3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers Football Club

Third Lanark FC are unique in the annals of Scottish if not British football as they were borne from the 3rd Regiment of the Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in 1872.

Volunteer forces were raised during the Napoleonic Wars but most were disbanded after the French defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

French naval expansion in the 1850's caused 'invasion panic' and in 1859 Volunteer Corps were re-created. Members of the corps received no pay and provided their own uniforms and equipment.

The Lanarkshire Volunteers were made up of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Corps with the 3rd based in the Strathbungo area in the south side of Glasgow.

The 3rd Lanarkshire Corp was made up by the amalgamation of several independent units including the '8th Coy Etna Foundry' and the remainder of the '78th Corps Old Guard of Glasgow.'

Their increasing 'professionalism' was confirmed in the Volunteers Act of 1863 by which time the Volunteers could now be called out for active military service instead of being utilised solely for defence purposes.

3rd LRV Camp of Instruction - Strathbungo, 1873

The first Scotland v England football international at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow in 1872 inspired the regiment to start a football team of their own, subsequently becoming one of the original members of the Scottish Football Association.

A meeting was duly advised by the intimation of a public notice on the 12th December 1872 by members of the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers and the meeting was convened in the Regimental Orderly room in East Howard Street, Glasgow.

Private Broadfoot explained that the meeting was called for the purpose of organising, if possible, a Football Club in connection with the Third Regiment. He further reported that Lieutenant-Colonel H E Crum-Ewing, the majority of the Officers and twenty-five other members of the Regiment had signified their willingness to support such a club.

Sergeant Wilson then moved: "That we, the Members now assembled should form ourselves into a club, to be called the 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteers Football Club."

The motion was seconded by Private Taylor, and unanimously approved of.
[Image] First to be debated was the 'uniform,' which was to consist of:

1) A scarlet Guernsey or Jersey (the colour of the regiment uniform)

2) Blue trousers or knickerbockers

3) Blue stockings

A subsequent meeting decreed that the number 3 should be displayed on the Guernsey.

The first playing field of the team was the Regimental drill ground at Victoria Road, Glasgow which was situated just to the south of the Regimental Headquarters, with occasional indoor training at Regimental drill hall in Coplaw Street, Govanhill, before ultimately moving to a 'new' ground, Old Cathkin Park in 1875.

The ground was offered to the team by the then owners 'Dixons' which was a well known ironworks in Cathcart Road, Glasgow and after making the surface playable goalposts and crossbars (as opposed to tapes) were erected.

A grandstand was built in 1878 with the ultimate accolade coming, for all the subsequent hard work carried out in developing the ground, when in 1884 Old Cathkin Park was chosen as the venue for the then annual Scotland v England match resulting in a 1-0 win for Scotland which was their 5th win in a row against the 'Auld Enemy'.

The team was enjoying a particularly successful period at this time and in 1885 recorded their highest ever score defeating St. Andrews 11-0 in a 3rd round Scottish Cup match ,a score line which was to remain unsurpassed throughout their illustrious history.

In May 1881, there was a major reorganisation in the British army. Regiments ceased to be numbered and instead took names associated with their recruiting area or an element of their history.

The Volunteer Corps were now linked with the regular army and the four Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions attached to the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were formed in 1881 by bringing together two single-battalion regiments: The Cameronians or the 26th Regiment Foot (raised 1689), and the 90th Perthshire Light Infantry (raised 1794), which respectively became the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the new Regiment.

The Cameronians were unique in that they were the only regiment in the British Army to have a religious origin, having been formed by Covenanters.

Each regiment now had two regular service battalions, one based at home recruiting and training, and one serving overseas. At regular intervals the two battalions would exchange roles.

The Regiments 1st Battalion took the name The Cameronians, whilst the other Battalions, including the Volunteers, were known as Scottish Rifles, a distinction which remained until the 1920s after which all Battalions used the Regiments full name.

It was Queen Victoria's wishes, that the Regiment became a rifle regiment, as a result of their great skill as marksmen, rather than ordinary infantry, thus becoming the only Scottish Rifle Regiment. This distinction was, by army tradition, considered a great honour.

The football club was now entering the most successful period of its short existence with season 1888/89 as the best to date winning the Scottish cup by defeating Celtic in what was to be known as the 'snow final'. A large crowd had arrived at Hampden Park for the final, unfortunately, the snow had got there before them and was ankle deep on the pitch. The general opinion was that the surface was unplayable, but the referee decided to proceed with the match which Third Lanark RV won 3-0.

Not surprisingly Celtic lodged a strong protest and following a special meeting at the Scottish Football Association a replay was ordered.

The 'warriers' or 'redcoats' as they were affectionately known (for obvious reasons) prevailed with a great 2-1 win and thus won their first trophy since inception. They accomplished this feat of endurance in grand style as they had to play a total of 13 games within the eight scheduled rounds due to several replays along the way.

This was by no means to be the limit of their success and by the end of the Century the Glasgow Charity Cup was captured three times.

The increase in professionalism within the club meant that changes were pending and the tenuous link with the regiment was finally severed in 1903 when they became a limited company and dropped the regimental title from their name (although retaining the colours of the Rifle Volunteers) and re-registered with the Scottish League as the 'Third Lanark Athletic Club'. Their first success under the new badge was not long in coming with the winning of the Glasgow Cup that season.

Trophies were still on the agenda and the greatest achievement any club could aspire to was securing their national league championship and this was won for the one and only time in the clubs history in 1904.

What makes this achievement so remarkable was that all their matches were played away from home at either Hampden or elsewhere due to the new ground not being ready for occupancy for that particular season.

This was to be their final move and the ground, which was purchased from Queens Park FC, was located on Cathcart Road, Crosshill just 'up the hill' from their previous home and was to be called New Cathkin Park and what better way to celebrate the new 'home' than to round off an excellent season by winning the Glasgow Cup.

The Scottish Cup was won again in 1905 when Rangers were defeated 3-1 after a replay and with the Glasgow Cup again being secured in 1908 the future was certainly looking bright as the club moved forward into the new century.

The Haldane Army reforms of 1908 was to herald the end of the famous name of the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers when they were disbanded, only to reform as the 7th Territorial Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

The 1st, 2nd and 4th Volunteers became the 5th, 6th and 8th Territorial Battalions, respectively.

The turning point for the Volunteers came when they served overseas for the first time in the Boer War and had distinguished themselves fighting alongside the regular battalions.

The ultimate test for the new territorial battalions was not far away, with the advent in 1914, of what was to be the most cataclysmic conflict of those modern times, The Great War.

The Great War began on 4th August and throughout Great Britain an air of excitement and expectation prevailed with men of all stations keen to be involved before it was 'all over'.

James Yuill Turnbull
17th Battalion Highland Light Infantry

James Turnbull was born in Glasgow in 1883 where he was brought up, educated and upon leaving school entered the Tailoring trade.

James was intelligent, had an outgoing personality, a love of the outdoors and bore a fine physique, which was honed as a result of his sporting prowess as a member of the Cartha Athletic Club on the south side of Glasgow.

His interest in the promotion of an active lifestyle was clearly indicated in his earlier years as a member of the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers where he loved the military training and camaraderie associated with the Battalion, which was ultimately to play a bigger part in his life than he could have imagined.

When war came James enlisted in the 17th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Commercials) and the training he had received with the 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteers meant he quickly rose to the rank of sergeant.

The 17th HLI was as near to a 'Pals' battalion as was possible, because Pals battalions, perhaps by some intuitive foresight, were not actively promoted in Scotland, although the 17th had two sister battalions: 16th Boys Brigade and the 15th Glasgow Tramways all of which were to fight and suffer together in the Thiepval area of the Somme in 1916.

The Boys Brigade, inspired by their treasurer, David Laidlaw, volunteered to form a battalion of the HLI but was turned down by the City fathers. He then approached the Cameron Highlanders which was not a Glasgow regiment but finally achieved success in Glasgow when the Corporation consented to the formation of a Highland Light Infantry Glasgow Tramways Battalion.

On the 7th September, the Tramways, motormen and conductors assembled in George Square, Glasgow resplendent in their green uniforms and marched in formation behind a pipe-band to enlist at the tram depot in Coplawhill (a matter of yards from the old 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteer drill hall in Coplaw Street).

Under the auspices of James Dalrymple, Glasgow's transport manager, 1102 men enlisted in just 16 hours to form the new 15th Battalion Highland Light Infantry.

The 'Big Push' of 1st July 1916 is a date that was to be etched forever in the annals of British history and the 17th HLI in the company of its sister battalion the 16th HLI were detailed to attack the Leipzig Redoubt.

The initial objective of the 17th was to occupy the Granatloch, which was a small and heavily fortified quarry, while on their left the 16th were to take the Wundt-Werk.

The 16th HLI had a torrid time and found the wire in front of them uncut by the week long bombardment and in the face of murderous machine-gun fire their casualties quickly mounted to 19 officers and 492 other ranks.

The 17th HLI faired better and were able to secure the quarry but suffered horrendous casualties when they tried to advance further towards the rear of the redoubt by the machine-gun fire that was coming from the untaken Wundt-Werk and had to retreat back to the Granatloch.

The 17th was badly depleted but at 2pm two platoons of the 2nd Manchesters managed to reach the Granatloch to bolster the remains of the stricken battalions that still occupied the quarry, which included the11th Border, the 1st Dorset and the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers.

James had discovered an abandoned bomb store and for more than twelve hours his athletic abilities and powerful physique allowed him almost single-handed to outdistance the German bombers and thus prevent the remainder of his unit from being outflanked and annihilated.

James was killed by a sniper's bullet on the evening of the 1st July when he attempted to bomb forward in an effort to counter an attack that was developing from the German trenches to the north.

For his bravery and devotion to duty James was posthumously awarded the highest honour his country could bestow, the Victoria Cross.

The citation in the London Gazette on the 24th November 1916 records:

"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, when, having with his party captured a post apparently of great importance to the enemy, he was subjected to severe counter-attacks, which were continuous throughout the whole day. Although his party was wiped out and replaced several times during the day, Sergeant Turnbull never wavered in his determination to hold the post, the loss of which would have been very serious. Almost, single-handed, he maintained his position, and displayed the highest degree of valour and skill in the performance of his duties. Later in the day this very gallant soldier was killed whilst bombing a counter-attack from the parados of our trench."

The ground held by James and his comrades was the most northerly point reached on the first day of the Somme battles and testament to the severity of the battle lay in the carpet of bodies that lay around the quarry that was the Granatloch.

James Yuill Turnbull VC is buried in the Lonsdale Cemetery (still no man's land) a mere few hundred yards from where he performed his heroic acts on that dreadful day of Saturday, 1st July 1916.

John Ferguson
Second Lieutenant
4th Battalion. attd. 2nd Battalion
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

John was born in Glasgow but moved to Stirlingshire at an early age, where he was brought up by his aunt, Miss M Ferguson at Forest Hill, Aberfoyle.

He attended Callander High School where he excelled in the classroom as well as the playing field with football his main past-time.

His first senior team was St Bernards who as recently as 1895 had won the Scottish Cup and very soon his scoring exploits on the park had attracted the attention of the bigger clubs with Newcastle United, Heart of Midlothian and of course Third Lanark all chasing his signature.

It was the wiles of the Thirds manager Mr M Tarbert, which won the day. John had gone for the evening to the Glasgow Empire theatre and upon hearing of this Mr Tarbert headed straight there. He waited outside for John to emerge and when he did was whisked quickly away to a restaurant for a meal after which the signing was completed.

By this time John was attending Edinburgh University and made his debut on 18th October 1913 against Rangers and scored a goal in a 4-2 deficit.

It was unusual then and perhaps even now, for a university educated man to be involved in what was becoming a working class sport, but John bore no 'airs and graces' and was certainly a welcome and well liked addition to the playing staff at Cathkin Park.

When war broke out John enlisted, like a true Volunteer, in the 4th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and due to his university education was commissioned 2nd lieutenant.

He was then seconded to the 2nd Battalion as part of the 4th Army, 8th Division, 23rd Brigade and in October 1916 found himself in the Flers sector in the Somme battle. On the 23rd October, the 2nd Scottish Rifles in the company of the 2nd Middlesex were to attack and capture Zenith trench, which they managed to achieve. The Scottish Rifles were then ordered to push on and take Orion trench but were forced back under murderous machine-gun fire, resulting in horrendous loss of life and it was at this time John was killed.

Sadly, as was often the case in the Great War, John's body was not recovered and he is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, Somme, along with 73,000 of his comrades.

John only played with Third Lanark FC for a brief spell due to the intervention of the war, but, in that short passage of time he earned the respect and admiration of all attached to the club, not only for his ability on the park, which was heading for international honours, but for his qualities as a human being and no man could ask for more.

The time had now come for the old 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in the guise of the 7th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) to make their mark in the Great War.

They were part of 156th Brigade of the 52nd (Lowland) Division and were detailed along with their sister battalion the 8th Scottish Rifles and the 7th Royal Scots to head for the peninsula that was Gallipoli.

The Royal Scots landed on V beach at Cape Helles on 13th June 1915 but disaster had already struck before they had even left their native Scotland. The train carrying them to Liverpool for embarkation crashed at Quintinshill near Gretna Green resulting in over 500 casualties, 200 of which were fatal.

The Scottish Rifle battalions landed on V and W beaches on the 14th June and were greeted at V beach by disembarking via an old collier which had been beached to act as a pier that would carry the troops across the deep water to dry land and had a name that would be familiar to them, the 'River Clyde'.

The troops were now given time to acclimatise themselves to their new surroundings and to shake out the cobwebs after their long sea voyage by digging new trenches and occupying the front line trenches to get them accustomed to shell-fire. They were unsure which was the lesser of the two evils.

Very soon they were on their way on a tortuous route march to what was to be their jumping off point for the next attack, Gully Ravine.

Gully Ravine was two miles long and up to 100 metres wide at some points with steep sides and the Turkish trenches bisected it from the Spur on the seaward side to the inland side in front of the village of Krithia.

The 156th Brigade was now attached to the 29th Division and they were to attack on the inland side of the ravine, but with minimal artillery support, as the main bombardment would concentrate on the seaward side the consequences of which were to prove disastrous for the territorials.

The bombardment started at 9am and the troops were due over the top at 11am, with the 8th Scottish Rifles and the 7th Royal Scots the first to go. The 7th Scottish Rifles, in reserve, followed soon after and had the onerous task of climbing over their dead comrades of the 8th battalion who were mercilessly cut down by Turkish fire at Fir Tree Spur.

The minimal bombardment had little effect on the Turkish trenches and all three battalions were to suffer grave losses. The 8th Scottish Rifles lost 25 officers and 400 other ranks while the 7th Royal Scots and the 7th Scottish Rifles were also decimated by murderous machine-gun fire.

The territorials of 156th brigade had at least achieved their objectives for the attack but at what cost.

Such were the losses for the two Rifle battalions that what remained were amalgamated into the 7th/8th Scottish Rifles for the duration of the campaign.

The decision was finally taken to evacuate the peninsula and the removal of troops began in December and by early January 1916 the momentous task was successfully reaching its conclusion.

The remaining members of the 7th/8th Scottish Rifles to their eternal credit were one of the last units to leave on the final day. The 7th and 8th battalions had arrived at Cape Helles on the 14th June 1915 with 2200 officers and men and were now leaving by the same route on the 9th January 1916 with a combined strength of 130.

It has to be assumed that the last remaining embers that were the old 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers were surely extinguished on the white, hot slopes of Gully Ravine on the Gallipoli peninsula on the 28th June 1915.

Gallipoli was an expensive and disastrously led failure that the British government wanted to quickly forget and as a way of minimising its importance no special medal was struck to commemorate the campaign.

The Great War finally reached its conclusion and in 1919, the 1st and 2nd Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) returned to peacetime duties, while the territorials returned to their previous calling or were disbanded

World War II, brought the Cameronians out of 'retirement' and the 7th Battalion was again to distinguish themselves, after the D-Day landings in 1944 on Walchern Island, off Antwerp. The 7th Cameronians in the company of the 6th Battalion liberated the island thus allowing access to the vital port of Antwerp, which was required as a landing base for supplies to support the allied push.
[Image] In 1950 the 6th and 7th Battalion amalgamated, but in 1966 the last link with the 7th was finally severed when they were disbanded.

Twelve months later the team borne by the forebears of the 7th Cameronians was in deep financial trouble. Third Lanark were now playing in the Scottish League Division 2 and played their last ever match against Dumbarton FC on 28th April 1967.

A Court Order in June of 1967 finally closed the turnstyles at Cathkin Park forever.

The famous names that were Third Lanark FC and the 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers are now sadly consigned to History.


For a direct link to the author of this article, email Ian Livingston

Copyright © Ian Livingston March, 2002

Return to the Hellfire Corner Contents Section