The Jags are back

Thistle are back in the top flight. A fix over fixtures. Seaman's woes (contd.) Hall of Fame


There are two great myths surrounding Partick Thistle which have been circulated for decades by journalists too lazy to bother with the truth. One is that 'everybody has a soft spot for Thistle.' Ask the average supporter of other West of Scotland sides and you will be told that the only soft spot most have for Partick is a plot of ground six feet below the surface.

The second myth is that the Jags are the 'great unpredictables.' That hasn't been the case since the foundation of the Premier Division more than quarter of a century ago - and was more myth than fact even before that. Partick's relationship with the Premier is highly predictable: struggle to get there, fight like furies to stay there, get relegated after a few seasons, take ages to get back, fight like furies to stay there etc...

In recent seasons there has even been a concerted effort to portray them as media luvvies. The team the stars support. Firhill as Glasgow's Stamford Bridge. How ludicrous. As if anyone would ever mistake Maryhill for the King's Road. The only time Thistle ever looked like Chelsea was around 1990 when the odious Ken Bates wanted to buy them as a feeder side.

As for being favoured by the glitterati, this is simply a convenient excuse for big names in music, film and TV to parade their football chic without alienating half their audience by revealing which side of the Old Firm divide their true allegiances lie on. That said, John Lambie's team talks would be a natural for 'Chewin' The Fat's 'Glesca Banter' boys!

After all this, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there is no reason to welcome the return of top flight football to Maryhill. Au contraire, as they say between sips of Chardonnay and mouthfuls of foie gras in the Jackie Husband stand, there is every reason to be delighted at the prospect of SPL football in G20.

For Partick Thistle represent the only outlet for the Glaswegian football supporter who doesn't want religious bigotry to determine support for a professional football team. Yes, I know Queen's Park still proudly play at Hampden but I use the word professional deliberately. Scottish football can never repay the debt it owes to the pioneers from Mount Florida, but the amateurs will never play at the top level again. Therefore, the Glaswegian sickened by the Old Firm has to turn to Thistle or leave town.

It wasn't always thus. As comparatively recently as 1958, Glasgow sported SIX clubs in the old First Division. That year was the last that Queen's Park played at such a high level. Since then they have earned short-lived promotions to the intermediate divisions of the League.

Third Lanark folded in 1967 and Clyde gave up Shawfield in 1986 - embarking on a nomadic existence centred on Firhill and Douglas Park before moving to Cumbernauld.

Which leaves us with the 'Harry Wraggs.'

Over the same period they have known both joy and despair. The never-to-be forgotten League Cup victory in October 1971 came less than 18 months after being relegated for the first time in nearly 70 years. They missed out on the initial Premier season but were the first winners of the new First Division.

After six years they were relegated and spent a decade out of the big time. Coming back in 1992, they spent another four years in the Premier before being cruelly relegated in extra time in a play-off at Tannadice.

That began a rapid descent to Thistle's rock bottom. Two seasons later they were in the Second Division. Other 'big' teams had reached that level - Dunfermline, Falkirk, Kilmarnock, St Johnstone - but they had usually escaped it quickly. Not Thistle. In 1998-99 they avoided the drop to the Third by a single point. In March 1999, John Lambie returned as manager - not so much a caretaker as an undertaker, it seemed.

Consolidation was the name of the game the following year before Thistle started their remarkable climb back to the summit by winning the Second Division title in 2001, finishing 17 points ahead of runners-up Arbroath. Then came last season and a second successive title and promotion - ten points ahead of Airdrie.

It is a wonderful achievement, against all the odds. It looked like the Jags would be dead and buried or, at best, eke out an existence hovering between the First and Second Divisions. Absolutely no one would have predicted two years ago that they would be back in the SPL ready to resume where they left off in 1996. For the fixture list has sent Dundee United to Maryhill on the opening day of the season.

Here is a team which has refused to give up, not just in the face of economic adversity in recent times. But one which has also refused to knuckle under to the Old Firm for more than a century. Where others have given up the ghost, moved away or gone under, Thistle, alone of the Glasgow clubs, have dared to dream that they can compete with the Big Two.

Thistle have produced some great players over the years. Alan Rough and Alan Hansen are probably the best known but they have a history of Scottish internationalists going way back and have been the home of some of the best-known characters in the game, like Chic Charnley for example. They have even competed in Europe twice - three times if you count their ill-starred Intertoto campaign in 1995. And, in boss Lambie, they have another of the great characters of Scottish football.

Such a history would, by itself, merit a warm welcome to the SPL. But the real reason to feel good about the return of the Jags is one that would pass without comment in any other city on the planet. You can go and support them without fear of taking sides in a sectarian conflict fuelled by bigotry and nursed by prejudice.

John Lambie: Ask HIM what it means


If you believe some of the Scottish press, Firhill is less the Theatre of Dreams than the place where luvvies dream of the theatre


We'd like to bring you the full fixture list for 2002-03. We know that it's particularly useful for non-UK based supporters who are unable to receive British TV/radio and can't get their hands on a football annual overseas. We know how useful it is in being able to plan your trips home so that you can see your favourite team in action. We'd like to provide this service but we can't.

Why not? Well, we don't have a spare four grand lying around in loose change. That's how much the SPL and the SFL want to charge websites for providing this simple information.

Scandalous, isnt it? That's what some fans think and they've got together to organise an online petition. You can find the details here.


How are the mighty fallen? When David Seaman's autobiography 'Safe Hands' (and no, you won't find it in the fiction department) was published last year, it looked like a nice little earner for the England keeper with the prospect of a reprint after a successful World Cup.

How galling it must have been then to see his tome languishing on the UK site of internet auctioneers eBay. Within an hour of going up for auction, the book attracted its first bid - the less-than-princely sum of £1-95.

For the next ten days, the price was like Seaman at a free kick - it didn't make a move. Then, with just ten minutes to go, a buyer charged to the rescue, crashing through the £2 barrier.

What a relief for England's finest. The book may, like some of the goals he's conceded, have been sold cheaply. But at £2-30 it's still more expensive than Andrex. Just.



We asked on our SFAQs page why certain Scottish 'greats' aren't in the Hall of Fame. The Scottish Football Museum's Project Director, Ged O' Brien, replies:

"None of the greats are in the SFA's Hall of Fame for the simple reason that such a thing does not exist.....yet.

You might be confusing the HoF with the 50 Cap Club where the SFA commission a portrait of a player when they reach that milestone. They used to hang in the Copper Canopy Room at Park Gardens.

The Scottish Football Museum has dedicated a space within the Museum at Hampden for a HoF and have been working for many years on a set of rules: no easy task I can tell you. We will announce the HoF when we are happy we have
the correct format.

On another subject: we currently have on show the Home International Championship trophy on loan from the IFA."

The love of your life has a past you don't know about....


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