Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Firhill - Past,Present & Future?

With yet another 2 scottish clubs (hearts & aberdeen) thinking of moving away from there current grounds and homes for over 100 years, i asked myself would it benefit partick thistle to do the same. There will always be supporters for and against this idea, this is my take on it.

 Firhill has been like a home from home for me for the 22 years i have been going there. Like the majority of grounds these days it has changed from the first time i set foot in it to the current setup of the ground. The first time i attened i sat in the main stand and then progressed onto the city end terrace before making my way round to the famous shed, then sadly it was demolished to make way for the excellent Jackie Husband stand.
Since then we have lost the north stand terracing to a single tier all seated stand and have lost the city end terrace to whst can only be described as a grassy hill!
 The main stand is no longer is used unless an ugly sister (old firm) come to play at firhill.
                                          Current arial view of firhill showing the grassy hill

The atmosphere at firhill used to be great it was electric especially on night matches but now it is dull and boring. Its not all partick thistle supporters fault though, yes our supporters (myself included) are not as vocal as we used to be except for the odd game - morton friday night match but away support in scotland is declining and fast.
 With the away supporters not coming to firhill in decent numbers anymore, I believe and it has already happened for some games this season that only the jackie husband stand will be open. Is this a good move by the club, it might save the club a few quid with not having to put stewards in the north stand or open food & drink facilities in the stand, plus could make the atmosphere a little better with the fans nearer each other. On the other hand it will leave the place with that empty and souless feeling with having the 2 empty stands and a grassy hill.

 When we built the jackie husband stand we were in the scottish premier division and crowds were bigger than they are today so building a stand with approximately 6,000 seats although the club nearly folded in the following years which did not help with a dip on the field and we were relegated to the third tier of scottish football. In 2002 we were going for promotion to what is now called the spl (scottish pish league in my eyes) and we had to build a new stand of approximately 2,000 seats to get to the 10,000 seats required to join the spl as well as winning the first division. After only 2 seasons we were relegated again but only after a change of rules which allowed inverness caley thistle to gain promotion as they were allowed to groundshare with aberdeen which is at least a 240 mile round trip , wonder if they would have changed the rules if it was a club like aberdeen or motherwell at the bottom instead of us. Sadly since then we have not been back in scotlands top flight and are struggling along with crowds averaging only 2,500 in a 10,000 seater staduim.

                                          Firhill with the terraces behind each goal

Should partick thistle stay at firhill, in my opinion i honestly believe we should move, Currently we have a staduim with a capacity of over 10,000 and it never gets full or even half full, sadly and it saddens me to say this but i believe firhill has become a staduim that is too big for partick thistle. I think now might be the time to either move or the club which i love could slowly be going into a major financial decline.
 Next season we will be losing the money from the sru, so the club need to generate more finances but there are no new deals on the cards at the moment. Would i make sense to sell firhill and the land behind it and locate the club to a new area and build a smaller staduim (at most 5-6000 capacity). I dont like using other clubs as an example but look at st mirren, they sold love street and moved a short distance to new st mirren park and ame out of the deal with a new ground and debt free. Currently our average gate is around the 2,500 mark so why do we need a ground that holds over 10,000 . I would love to go back to the days when there are 4 sides to a football ground and people in all of them. If we had a new staduim of say 6,000 we could have 4 stands all of similar height and even one stand form home fans that would have the option of terracing or seating like they do have in germany.

                                                               German terracing/seating

Next plan would be were to relocate the club and to build the new staduim, i would love to see the club move back down to the partick area from where we originate. There is better transport facilities to partick and the club could try and tap into the local area to generate new supporters as it has been tried and tested with the local maryhill folk.
 I was never one for moving to new grounds before but the ways things are going in scottish football this might just be the way to make sure that there is a partick thistle to watch in the future.

 I believe this is the way to go by moving to a new ground as i dont see downsizing firhill as an option. I know people will be against this and think we should stay at firhill but please look at the bigger picture and ask yourself - How many times in the last 10 years has the attendance been over 5000 apart from when the old firm visit, there is only 2 that spring to my mind and that was against hearts and dundee untied and both were in the scottish cup.

 Dont worry if the partick thistle board dont move and stay at firhill i will still be there week in week out as i will be wherever we play our games, as staduims can change but football clubs dont. All i want is to make sure my beloved partick thistle are there for me to watch.