For anyone who has more than a passing interest in grounds then Glasgow must seem like the Mecca of the groundhopping world. Not only does it have Ibrox, Hampden and Celtic Park, (plus numerous smaller venues), but the stadium equivalent of a ghost town in Cathkin Park.
Situated a short walk North of the present Hampden Park, the ground was opened in 1884 when Queens Park moved there. Initially it was also called Hampden Park, the second by that name, with the Spiders' original ground bearing the moniker as well. To make things even more confusing, when Queens moved out to 'third Hampden', they sold the ground to Third Lanark, who renamed it New Cathkin Park after their original home, with it becoming the second ground to go by that name as well (football in Scotland is rarely simple!).
When they took over the ground in 1902, Thirds were one of Scotland's major clubs, League Champions in 1904 and Cup winners the year after. Throughout the 20th century they were considered to be the club of choice for Glaswegians disassociated by the sectarian nonsense of Celtic and Rangers. Crowds were often in five figures and the clubs future seemed bright at one time. League Cup finalists in 1960, they went on to finish third in 1960/61 with over 100 goals scored, and have a new stand built at the ground in 1963, but just four years later they found themselves bankrupt and merely an entry on the pages of history. Inquiries blamed their demise on in-fighting, and a desire by the chairman to sell the ground for housing (although having funded the newly built stand, this point is often disputed), but when the club did go into liquidation, then the ground was indeed put up for sale for housing, but the city council blocked attempts to build houses there, and today it still exists, having been converted into a park for public use.
At one time it held 50,000 and was built in the traditional Scottish oval shape, with a Main Stand on one side, and banked terracing around the other three. The Stand was removed in the late 70s when the council turned it into a park, but the terraces were kept as part of the landscaping project, with the pitch still seeing action today, albeit at a much lower level than before. A reformed Thirds started playing games there recently, even expressing a desire to return to league football after Gretna's demise in 2008, for now though it stands as a monument to their past, and is a truly unique sight, with full credit going to Glasgow Council for having preserved it in the way they have. Whilst it may not see league action again, then it's a must for anyone in Glasgow, especially if visiting nearby Hampden.
For a fascinating insight into the history of the club, see this video from Channel 4 - Third Lanark FC: 1872-1967
Cathkin Park Panoramic