This letter was published in Issue 76/Winter 2000 of the Scottish Football Historian magazine and contains the confession of an undiciplined football fan.
Just a short note to say how much I enjoyed David Allan’s article on Alex Harley, and in particular his mention of the last day of Season 1960-61, when Thirds beat Hibs 6-1 at Cathkin to score goals number 95 to 100 of that magnificent season. Such was the carnival atmosphere which prevailed on that day that I ran onto the pitch to congratulate Alex after he scored his forty-second goal of the season. In mitigation, I was only thirteen at the time.
David is quite right to infer that for many Hi-Hi men the 1960-61 season and that last game against Hibs was the high point, although seeing Thirds at Hampden in the 1959 League Cup final against Hearts was also an occasion for great pride – and who could forget wee Jocky Robertson’s gallant display in goal that day against his boyhood heroes.
Where I might take issue with David is his description of “the shambolic Thirds” with reference to Season 1962-63. Sadly “shambolic” they may have been nearer the end, but in 1962-63 they finished as the fourteenth best team in Scotland and, with the inspirational Sammy Baird as captain, they captured the Glasgow Cup for the first time in fifty-four years by beating Celtic in the Hampden final.
This was a Thirds cup-winning team that still had Jocky Robertson, ‘Junior’ MacGillivray, Billy Lewis, Jim Reilly, Willie Cunningham, Jimmy Goodfellow and Joe McInnes from their 100-goals-in-a-season side. They also still retained the credibility to attract players of the calibre of young Joe Davis, later a captain of Hibs, at left back. Only the name “W.C. Hiddleston” listed as a director in that season’s programmes hints at things to come. Four years later Thirds would be no more.
It is the speed in which Third Lanark went from being a respectable First Division club to oblivion and the deliberate maladministration which powered their heart-breaking decline, it's that which is the real tragedy.
Setting The Record Straight