Sunday, 6 November 2011

Life as a Jag!

Life as a Jag

At 29 years old I've seen a lot of Scottish football and supporting Partick Thistle for just about all of my life has helped me. I was born in Rutherglen maternity and lived in Cambuslang for 2 years until my younger brother came along and we moved to a bigger house in Lenzie. It was here my love affair with football started. I was given my first football kit from my gran. It was a white top with yellow hoops and it's still my favourite Scotland top. I used to wear it all the time.

When I was about 6 my family moved to Duntocher in Clydebank. All of my mum's side of the family came from there and I still live there to this day.

September 23rd 1989 was the date I first experienced the Staduim of Dreams, Firhill. It was a match against Airdrie with goals from Alex kennedy and John flood securing a 2-1 Thistle victory in front of a crowd of 5301. From then on I was hooked and every home game me and my old man would sit in the Main Stand just along from the dugouts so I could have a perfect view of the Shed in its glory (those were the days). My dad grew up in Maryhill and was a Thistle/Rangers fan. He would watch Thistle if they were at home and go to Ibrox if Thistle were away. Basically he just had a dislike for Celtic - something that is still strong today. After the games, especially if we won, I couldn't wait to get to school and tell all of my classmates about how great my team was. I took pride that I was the only Jags fan at my school. Like 90% of my family, my school was full of Celtic fans.

For the next few years, my dad and I would go to Firhill every second Saturday. We would start with going to my grans for lunch (just up behind Harveys bar) and would leave my younger brother and sister there so we could go to the game. It was our ritual. We did occasionally go to away games but only if they were close by.

My worst away experience came in (I think) May 1991. It was the last game of the season: away to Clydebank at Kilbowie Park, which is now a Aldi, Gala bingo and McDonalds. Being a local boy my dad had said I could bring some of my friends to the game and as I was always banging on about how great we were I thought "Brilliant! They can see for themselves how great Thistle are!" My brother had also started to come to some games but I'm pretty sure he hadnt seen us win and I told him that today was the day. As most of us know, and want to forget, we got gubbed 7-1 and for the next few months my friends never let me forgot. Plus, I also blamed my brother who I called a jinx and said he wasn't to come along again. It worked pretty well as he never came to a game the following season and we got promoted!

For the next 5 seasons I wasn't at Thistle games much as, like most kids my age, I was trying to carve out a career in football for myself so I was playing on Saturday afternoons. Me and my dad did make midweek games and the odd saturday game if my match wasnt on. There was some great memories during those seasons and I was present at a few of them but these ones stick out:

Partick Thistle 3 Rangers 0

Partick Thistle 3 Celtic 1 (at Hampden)

Partick Thistle: Tennants Sixes Champions

I missed the famous win at Parkhead with Georgie Shaw scoring 2 goals but have seen it on youtube and heard countless tales from people that were there.

As I got older, I started to drift away from following Thistle, mainly because I was playing football but also all my friends started to go to watch celtic and if they had a spare ticket it was me who got asked and I tagged along.

It was when the Save the Jags campaign started that I realised I was still a Jags fan. I remember going into my local paper shop every so often and buying the pullout they had made for Save the Jags. I wanted to go back to Firhill but still found myself going to Celtic Park most Saturdays as my dad was working and I didn't want to go myself and someone always had a spare ticket for the Celtic game.

It was about July 1999. I had now left school and was working full time doing an electrical apprenticeship. On my first day I remember I was introduced to all my fellow staff and then it came those F*****G questions we always get asked:

Q 1 . What team do you support?

A 1 . Partick Thistle.

Q 2 . What Old Firm team do you like?

A 2 . None. Hate them both. FTOF.

Q 3 . Are you a Catholic or a Proddy?

A 3 . Neither.

For some reason that day I said I was a Partick Thistle fan, but I hadn't been to Firhill for nearly 4 years and I was attending Celtic games more often. I looked back on that day as the day my life turned around. I was going back to where I belong - Firhill.

It was September 1999, just short of my 17th birthday when my long awaited return happened. The game was against Ross County. We got beat 2-0 and although we were now bottom of the Second Division, I couldn't have been happier to be back. My old man was with me and it brought back great memories for the two of us. It was here I bumped into a friend (Jamie) and his dad who I hadn't seen in years. We met up for the next few home games and decided to go on an away trip without our dads. It was to be Queen of the South away and we won 2-1. I think Derek Lyle scored the winner and it lifted us off the bottom of the league. This is the game that I reckon was the turn around and after this match it was only upwards for the next few years.

Jamie and I never missed a game for the next few seasons and watched with joy as we won 2 league titles in a row and got back into the SPL. There were some highs and some lows ad after 2 seasons in the SPL, we got relegated and were back in the First Division and thinking it’ll be one year in this league or 2 at the most. We were right! 1 year is all it took but it was the wrong way. Relegated back to the second division...

The second division campaign was a terrible one and I'm still at a loss as to how we got promoted. I think we finished the campaign some 30 points behind 2nd place Morton but that is the luck of the playoffs.

The last game was the playoff final 2nd leg which was on a Sunday up in Peterhead. I had been on a night out on the Saturday and had had a couple of hours sleep before it was time to catch the minibus up north. There was a fear about everbody that morning. The worry: will we do it? The fact peterhead were 2-1 up after the first leg and we hadn't been able to beat them all season it didn't look good. But we are Thistle we always do it the hard way.

Once we arrived in Peterhead I was, lets just say hungover from the night before, and very nervous. I went to a local bar for a curer or two. Once I realised the time, I made my way to the ground several minutes late on route I heard a cheer. I just presumed it was for the teams coming out, but it was Peterhead going 1-0 up! I got to the ground just as Mark Roberts was turning to tuck the ball away to score with me thinking we were 1-0 up! It wasn't until about 30 mins into the game that I found out it was actually 1-1 and not 1-0 to us! Gutted. Approaching the 90 minute mark, I kept saying to my friends that I was going back to the pub but for some reason I just couldn't leave and I'm glad I didn't. As Billy Gibson's free kick deflected into the net it was mayhem. I don't think we had celebrated a goal like that for years. I was fairly confident when it came to the penalty kicks as we had beaten SPL side Inverness earlier that season on pens. From the minute Paul Ritchie's penalty hit the back of the net it was party time with a full scale pitch invasion. The rest of the night is a blur to me which involved stopping off in Aberdeen for a few drinks and not getting home till the wee hours plus a sickie from work on the Monday.

Since then we have been in the First Division. This is by far the most competitive league in Scotland and possibly britian with 10 teams who are evenly matched. I haven’t been to as many games as I would have liked since then with working away from home and becoming a parent. My daughter will be 3 on November 11th and my fiancee is due to give birth on January 13th 2012 with our second child. They have now become the most important thing in my life but Partick thistle will always come a close second and I will be at as many matches as I can. My daughter (Rebecca) has already been to Firhill for a game and had the chance to watch me try and play on the Firhill turf during the Firhill Cup Funday. Hopefully some day my kids will be regulars at Firhill with me as I was with my dad.

Nothing beats waking up on a Saturday morning with the anticipation of the days game; wondering whether it will be a win or defeat or possibly even a draw (a feeling old firm fans will never know. Well, mabye Celtic fans on current form). The nervous feeling you get when walking up to the Jackie Husband Stand or the night before a big game when you can't sleep (like a kid at Christmas). All I hope for the future is that there will still be a Partick Thistle Football Club for me, my family and my friends - so many who I have met going up and down the country watching the Jags. Long may it continue.



Heroes of past

Colin McGlashan, Dave Elliot, Chic Charnley, Gordon Rae, Alan Archibald, Stephen Craigan, Martin Hardie, Danny Lennon, Gerry Britton, Geordie Shaw, Craig Nelson, John Lambie

Favorite matches of past:

Partick Th 2 Airdrie 1 (first match)

Partick Th 3 Rangers 0

Partick Th 3 Celtic 1 (at hampden)

Tennents Sixes win

Partick Th 0 Forfar 0

Partick Th 1 Celtic 0

Partick Th 2 Queen of the south 1

Inverness 0 Partick Th 1

Stirling 0 Partick Th 3

St Mirren 0 Partick Th 2

Aberdeen 0 Partick Th 1 (charnley came on near end to take the piss)

Rangers 1 Partick Th 1

Peterhead 1 Partick Th 2 (won on pens)

Celtic 1 Partick Th 1 (lost on pens)

Partick Th 3 Kilmarnock 0 (think alex burns scored a hat trick)

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