For Celtic Football Club, the season of 1962-63 was turning out to be one of those when the bad rather outweighed the good. The club had failed to qualify from their League Cup section; had lost in the final of the Glasgow Cup to Third Lanark; the first foray in the Fairs Cup had ended in the first round when they lost 2-4 to Valencia; and Celtic were lying in fourth place in the league table, some ten points behind leaders Rangers.
The good news was that Celtic had reached the final of the Scottish Cup, having comfortably disposed of Raith Rovers 5-2 at Ibrox in the semi-final. That match, however, was some weeks away, there were six matches left in the league campaign and on this day in 1963, the players of Third Lanark took the short journey over from Cathkin Park for the clubs second league meeting of the season, Thirds having won the first 2-0.
If things were not great for Celtic, they were worse for the Hi Hi. Off the field, the financial affairs of Third Lanark were in disarray, the subject of much discussion in the press and among the support, with the role of the directors – and particularly the Chairman – constantly under scrutiny. The very impressive side of the late 50s and early 60s had been broken up, with several players transferred to raise money to keep the club on an even keel. And, as usually happens in cases like that for clubs out-with the top rank, the players coming in are not as good as the ones who left.
Only 14,000 bothered to turn up for this match, when the Celtic side was Frank Haffey, Dunky McKay, Willie O’Neill, John McNamee, Billy McNeill, Billy Price, Steve Chalmers, Bobby Craig, John Divers, Bobby Murdoch and Frank Brogan.
Craig opened the scoring for Celtic in 25 minutes, Cunningham equalised for the visitors two minutes later and then Craig again, in the 35th minute, made it 2-1 for Celtic. And, in spite of a great deal of effort by both sides in the second half, that was also the score at the final whistle, keeping Celtic in fourth spot and Third Lanark 14th in the 18-team league.
NB Cathkin Park is still there, minus the stands and dressing rooms. The original terracings are still in situ although quite overgrown with grass, or more accurately, weeds. If you head up Cathcart Road towards Hampden, you will pass a road called Myrtle Park, then just beyond there, on the left side, there is a small group of houses and beside that, a staircase taking you up a hill. Go up the steps and once you reach the top, Cathkin is right in front of you.