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Saturday 12th May 2012 ko 10.00am

Glasgow Colleges League Division One

HAMPDEN 2 (Addison 34 Walker 52)

ST DAVID’S 3 (G Rankin 3 Taylor 25 58)

Att 16 (h/c)

@ Cathkin Park, Glasgow

Entry FREE

Nothing for Sale

So, why would anyone drive from Long Eaton to Glasgow to watch a low grade game on a council pitch? Well this is no ordinary council pitch. From 1872 from 1967 this was the home of Third Lanark AC. The club went bankrupt a mere 6 years after finishing third in the Scottish League, amongst allegations of huge financial mismanagment and corruption. There’s still more to Cathkin though, as prior to Third Lanark moving in it had been home to Queens Park, and known as Hampden Park, the second ground to bear the name. Queens moved a few hundred yards to the third Hampden Park in 1904, and its that’s the Hampden of today.

It wouldn’t mean so much if Cathkin wasn’t so atmospheric. The huge banks of terrace still remain, albeit overgrown in many places, and the open side is where the huge main stand once stood. I’d visited around 15 months ago, and when Chris Berezai suggested it, and with a little change in my pocket going jing-a-ling, I jumped at the chance. The great Scottish football writer Bob Crampsey used to live in Myrtle Park, just beyond the open end, and the there’s been moves afoot to renovate the place a little. The Scottish actor Simon Weir, whose great-grandfather John Weir played for the “Hi-Hi” in the 1910’s has been gradually clearing debris, and has painted the remaining crash barriers Third Lanark red.

There is a revived Third Lanark playing in the amateur ranks, and they did start their existance playing here. Sadly they’ve moved elsewhere, rather defeating the point of their existance, but a club called Hampden strikes me as the next best thing, although I did find the Hibernian-style green kit a bit odd!

So what about the game. Well, this is the top division of a league that started life as a churches league then became a colleges league, when there weren’t enough church sides. Nowadays the participating clubs have little of nothing to do with Colleges, and there are moves afoot to rename the league again. St Davids are this year’s champions, and Hampden third. (The term Third doesn’t half crop up!). The St Davids manager told me about the time former Falkirk, Albion, Arbroath and Brechin midfielder Hugh Hill signed for the club. League rules stipulate that a photo must be provided, so Hill simply handed over his Panini Sticker! His son, also a Hugh, played in our game.

I really wasn’t expecting much of a game, but we were surprised at how good the quality was. Two good sides, on an obviously boggy pitch passed and moved beautifully. At no point did the champions look like losing, and two of the goals were sublime, the passing move that led to Nicky Taylor’s first, and his second a cushioned lob. Both were worthy of a far greater attendance, at a ground I couldn’t decide was either a shrine or a graveyard. What it definately is, is an icon, and one I’m pleased to have seen a game on.

As we left we found an inscription set in the terrace. “Life is short; art long; opportunity fleeting; experience treacherous; judgement difficult.” That aphorism is attributed to the Greek Physician Hippocrates, and I’m not sure its an original feature, but its a fine comment on the demise of a once proud club.

So folks, there’s the league, go find the website, and visit this amazing piece of football history.