What was the biggest bang yesterday on July 4th? Not the many fireworks from coast to coast, not the rocket launch by Kim Jong-un, BUT the score from the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg City as the local part timers Progres Niederkorn sent the Big Time Light Blues from Glasgow 2-1 crashing out of the Europa League before other Scottish club had even started their European campaigns. Barthel was the 1500m gold medalist at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, the nation's only gold medallist.
After winning 1-0 at Ibrox in front of 50,000 fans a week ago even the Progres match day programme didn't think that their lads had a chance, even with home support in the second leg. 2,000 fans who had paid £20 just to register with the Rangers travel club, plus the cost of flights, meals, accommodation and tickets showed up for an expected win... and progress to the next round.
The match turned out to be the biggest shock in any European competition for any British side EVER !! It was Rangers first European tie for 6 seasons, after their demotion to the 4th tier of Scottish football and their climb back to the Scottish Premier League north of the border. They had finished WAY behind champions Celtic with 106 points, Aberdeen 76, Rangers 67, and this was the chance for new manager Pedro Caixinha to prove his many, many critics wrong. result - HUMILIATION !!!
Progres only finished in 4th place in Luxembourg last season, had not won a European match in 13 attempts, scoring only one goal and conceeding FORTY ONE goals in the process. Goals from Francoise 65th minute and Thill ten minutes later were the only goals of the match in front of 5,534 spectators. Oliver Thill won the Man of the Match award. Kenny Miller had scored the only goal in Glasgow a week ago. They are from a small town of only 3,000 people www.progres.lu
One of the best known Scottish football grounds was Cathkin Park in Glasgow's southside. It was actually the site of the very first Hampden Park and home of Queens Park, the country's oldest club. When they moved to the present Hampden Park in 1903 it was renamed Cathkin Park and Third Lanark took over the lease. On March 15, 1884 Scotland played England there, the very first all ticket match.12,000 fans.
Third Lanark played their last match there on 25 April 1967, a 3-3 draw against Queen of the South. The club folded later that year. I remember walking across what was left of the park on the way to nearby Hampden Park about 40 years ago. The grandstands were demolished and the ground was bought by the local authority, who retained the pitch for public use..
A reformed Third Lanark, which plays in the Greater Glasgow Amateur League, currently play in the park which has been refurnished by the local parks department, and also Hampden AFC and a boys team, The Jimmy Johnstone Academy. The club want to get funding for redevelopment including an all weather pitch, floodlights, changing facilities and to be used for both football and cricket which are both popular locally in Mount Florida and Govanhill.
Third Lanark currently groundshare at Vale of Clyde's Fullerton Park in Tollcross, but would like to return to their original home as soon as possible.