The last Loose Ends adventure involved the Meadows in Edinburgh, a park in the heart of the city. Cathkin is a park in a city though it has similarities to the Meadows in that it’s been a football ground too. Hibs played their first game in the Meadows and won their first Scottish Cup in 1886 at Cathkin when it was known as Hampden Park, now of course just over the hill. Cathkin is a place I like plus I hadn’t been for ages so it was an easy choice for Loose Ends.
It was cloudy and overcast as I walked the short distance from Crosshill station. Small football goals were set up on the grass just inside the gate, a sign of games past or even still to come. I wasn’t alone – another guy was walking about the park taking photos and crouching down at regular intervals. Cathkin Park was the home of Third Lanark Football Club until it went out of business in dubious football circumstances in 1967. The terracing remains, much of it reclaimed by nature, much of the rest cleaned up recently as part of an ongoing restoration effort. It is now a public park owned by Glasgow City Council and still used occasionally for football. Pilgrimages from football fans happen, such as before the 2016 Scottish Cup Final when I was one of a few Hibees at Cathkin before heading over to Hampden.
In his article The Passion of Harry Bingo, Peter Ross quotes a Queen’s Park fan by the name of Higgy who considers Cathkin ‘kind of a church for me’. This came to mind as I stood on the terracing at the western end, my hands resting on a green and white post as I looked across the pitch. The corner leading to Hampden was now the most overgrown. When I first came, a few years ago, the place was far leafier and decorated with debris, broken glass and bottles, food and other wrappers. It was much cleaner and I liked that. As I stood there I thought about possible Loose Ends connections, to Lanark itself or other defunct football stadia like Shawfield. The thought occurred to me that Third Lanark and East of Scotland League outfit Haddington Athletic share a nickname – the Hi-His – and I might think of a trip to Haddington, though maybe not for football.
As I walked across the pitch and stood on the south terracing, I thought what I often think at Cathkin: what it would feel like for my club to die, to be there for the last time. It would be interesting to know just where the fans went, whether, for example, they crossed the hill to go watch Queen’s Park, Clyde or either of the Old Firm. Football’s an important part of my life and I think Higgy was right. Cathkin is like a church for me too.
Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows in two weeks time.
A special Streets of Glasgow post will appear here on Tuesday.