Tag Archives: partick thistle

The Summer of 69

George Hunter: Glasgow, June 2021

I left school after sitting 5 o’levels, in fact I can even remember my last day at school it was 14th June 1969.

I had a job lined up in an office in Charing Cross after the Glasgow Fair so I was looking forward to the summer holidays with six weeks of long-lie-ins and footie in the park.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself at the family dinner table that day teasing my brothers David and Joe (below) about how they had to go back to school whilst I was finished with all that…. but I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.

Unbeknown to me my Dad had nipped out to the local phone box to make a quick call and when he came back he duly informed me that I was to report to the local farm owned by Jim Paul at 4am the following morning to start my summer job, no lazy summer lie-ins for me then, but at least I’d finish work in time to play a bit of footie in the afternoon!

My passion back then was football and it has been ever since.
I was obsessed, and if I wasn’t playing football for the school or the Boys Brigade or with my mates in the park, I was watching it or thinking about it, so in the summer of 69 when I read in the evening paper that the 3 main Glasgow teams were inviting players for trials for their youth teams for the 69-70 season, I couldn’t apply quick enough.

Celtic were first to respond with a trial date, it was to be held at St Anthony Junior’s ground in the south side of Glasgow near Ibrox.
On arrival I was filtered into a group of trialists for the Under 16 team along with 40 or 50 other lads, we were then told that we’d all get 30 minutes to make an impact and that it was up to us to impress the coaches.

I couldn’t wait to get started.
I played in my favoured midfield position but for the next 30 minutes I watched the ball sail over my head from our defence to the oppositions, I was lucky if I touched the ball 10 times and 6 of those were throw-ins!

I remember Brian Thistle (of this parish) was also there trying out for the under 14’s, he did well and unlike me he was invited back.
I couldn’t help but feel that I had let myself down but it was a tough environment, not knowing anyone and not really getting the chance to show what I could do.
The 30 minutes seemed to go by in a flash and I had a sore neck into the bargain, looking up at the sky trying to see where the bloody ball was!

Next up was Rangers and the local trials were being held in Drumchapel. At least there were a couple of familiar faces in my age group this time, lads who I had played against previously, good players who went on to become pro’s, like Gordon Smith  (St Johnstone  Aston villa & Spurs ) and Phil Bonnyman (Rangers, Hamilton, Chesterfield  & Dunfermline), unfortunately for me however the end result was the same as the Celtic trial. I just couldn’t impose myself in the limited time I had and I sloped off in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be getting a call-back.

The Teddy Bears in 1969

Last but certainly not least was a trial with the mighty Jags from Firhill.
The trial was being held at Sighthill Park and I was a bit more relaxed this time as I was accompanied by a couple of pals, Stuart Millan & Ian lamb who were also trying out. There were also a few ‘well-kent’ faces amongst the other trialists, again, lads I knew from School and Boys club football so I felt a lot more at ease.

Davie McParland

SEASON 1971/1972 Partick Thistle manager Davie McParland with the League Cup.

As I took to the pitch I noticed that the Thistle manager (and a hero of mine) Davie McParland was standing on the touchline.
I was more determined than ever to make the most of this opportunity.
I lined up in midfield and told the guys taking the centre to knock the ball back to me from the kick off so I could get an early touch, however the ball hit a massive divot, ricocheted off my shin and deflected to my midfield opponent,  who I missed with a lunging tackle, and watched from the deck as he went on to score the opening goal.

I could see the coaches scribbling away in their notepads from the corner of my eye and I knew I’d blown it. I actually went on to play pretty well but the damage was already done and unsurprisingly I was not asked to come back unlike my two mates Ian and Stuart.

To make matters worse that day I had arranged to go to the park when I got home to let my mates know how I had got on, most of the boys were sympathetic but I remember one lad called Davie Jenkins who called me a donkey and said I was wasting my time.
We had a wee game of football after that (first to 15) and I made sure Davie was in the other team. I also made sure that he was on the end of my first tackle, and I definitely made sure he knew donkeys had some kick on them!

I also decided that it would be best for me to keep any future trials to myself!

My next trial was with a team from Knightswood – Everton Boys Club who were a top youth team. This time my big brother Brian took me and stayed to watch me play.
The manager and the lads were really welcoming and I had a great game. So good in fact that the team manager asked me to join the club as soon as I came off the park, which I gladly did and with Brian in attendance he was able to sign the forms as my guardian on the spot.

To round off a great day, heading back to my brothers car I bumped into Davie McParland who’d watched the game. He was kind enough to say that his coaches would have signed me based on todays performance and would I still like to come and train with them?
At this point the Everton manager saw what was happening and shouted over “Hey, hands off, he’s ours now Davie”.

I went on to have a great season with Everton, met some brilliant guys and made friends for life with guys like Frank Murphy who went on to become a football agent and John Cairns who’s son I went on to coach at Lennox (see pic below).

I may not have signed for any of the big Glasgow clubs but I had a fantastic time at Everton Boys Club and as the song so aptly says….
“These were the best days of my life”

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

John Allan: Bridgetown, Western Australia, April 2021

It must be over 20 years since I came to the realisation that it’s function over fashion, comfort over couture.

There are basically two seasons in this part of the world.
Summer… where I adorn fabulous floral Hawaiian shirts and shorts.
Winter…. when I rug up in sweatshirts and trackie dacks (tracksuit trousers).

My major dilemma is whether to have the elasticated waist below or above the beer gut.
Shitty nappy look versus camel toe look.

Thong (flip flop),
Croc,
Ugg,
Blundies (Blundstone or it’s competitor Rossi elastic sided boot)
and you’ve covered all known Australian footwear.

I haven’t laced up a shoe for over 5 years.

Our early ‘look’ was of course solely in the hands of our parents.

Any baby photos I’ve seen of myself, I seem to be wearing a dress.
More than that, there are layers upon layers of petticoats underneath.
Now there could be various reasons for this….

It could have been a christening or some other type of formal ceremony.
Or, perhaps after two boys, my Mum had prepared for a daughter.

Or lastly…. my parents were just taking the piss.

If I breathe in, I can just about squeeze into them today!

I can’t ever remember my parents holidaying in the Black Forest or being visited by any Tyrolean travellers but for some reason at an early and vulnerable age I was presented with a pair of lederhosen.

I was paraded in front of many a coffee morning to the oohs and aahs of neighbouring mothers.
Certainly they were hard wearing and tough and with the bib removed and a long t-shirt, nearly inconspicuous until one of your mates clocked them.
“What are you wearing ?”

Was this a continuation of the parental piss take ?

Ahead of their time, my parents would bundle 3 boys and assorted camping equipment into the family Cortina and head abroad.
The check list must have read like :- tent, ground sheet, sleeping bags, lilos, calor gas stove, 3 kilts and brylcreem.

National Lampoons European Vacation – Allan style…

There are numerous photographs of my two brothers and I standing in front of the famous buildings and monuments of Copenhagen with shirt, tie, matching v-neck jerseys, slicked back hair and kilts.

Even complete strangers queued up to take pictures of us.

We were pimped out like Caledonian Kardashians.
In fact as I write this there may be some demented Dane ogling at us on his mantelpiece as we pose in front of the Little Mermaid….

Photo opportunity or piss take ?

It wasn’t until the 70s that you were allowed to take charge of your own wardrobe…..No more man at C & A’s for  me!

The groovy mauve (rounded collared) shirt, with the red, yellow and black tank top.
Think Fair Isle Partick Thistle.

Loon pants so tight around the crutch that it lowered your sperm count. Indeed, most of the material was utilised around your ankles billowing atop of baseball boots.

For a jacket I had my Dad’s old RAF tunic sans original buttons (disrespectful otherwise).

Mum would give me a good look up and down.

“Are you taking the piss ?”

Most of my working life I was spared the noose of shirt and tie and wore uniform.
As a student nurse I had to endure the itchy starchy collars of the dentist shirt…. a straitjacket like garment that buttoned up over you right shoulder.

One day I had to accompany a District Nurse into the community, so adorned jumper and jacket. I noticed one client being very reverential to me and calling me Father.
I of course absolved her of her sins, told her to recite five Hail Marys and promised to christen her grandchild.

As a ‘Nurse Educator’ I had to supervise male medical students on several ‘work experience’ days.
First lesson was to secure their ties, although it was always amusing to watch some gormless would be Doctor with his tie traipsing in a full bedpan like a thirsty puppy.
A literal piss take.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and nurses went about their business in scrubs.
Like wearing pyjamas in the daytime………………….which I’m doing now.

Call the fashion police. It’s an emergency !

Fashion! Turn to the left
Fashion! Turn to the right
Oooh, fashion!
We are the goon squad
And we’re coming to town
Beep-beep
Beep-beep

didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to…………methil?

(by Alan Fairley – Edinburgh, March 2021)

First things first, this is not a football post, neither it is a Partick Thistle post.

Posts of that nature can be easily found elsewhere on the site but for this travelogue, which details an epic journey from suburban Glasgow to the darkest recesses of Fife in August 1970, both the game of football and the Jags provide convenient pegs on which to hang this partick-ular (see what I did there?) jacket.

Along with Courthill legend Dougie ‘Sparra’ Davidson, I had been following Thistle home and away for some time and the club’s relegation to the Second Division at the end of season 1969-70 had opened up a cornucopia of new travel opportunities resulting in us spending the summer eagerly planning trips to the uncharted waters of places like Montrose, Arbroath, Stirling, Brechin and Forfar, all of which had been, to us, mere dots on a map of Scotland up until then.

Dougie was the main planner. he was the 70s equivalent of Google. How he did it I’ll never know but he seemed to know every bus and train timetable in mainland Scotland as well as the geographical and socio-economic features of most areas of the country and our first major adventure of the season was a journey to The Kingdom of Fife.

Not a trip to the historic burgh of Dunfermline where the bones of King Robert the Bruce rest beneath the town’s abbey.

Not a pilgrimage to St Andrews, the equally historic home of golf.

Not even an excursion to Anstruther where the most famous fish suppers in the world are flipped out from the sparkling friers in all their golden glory.

Nope, none of the above. This was a jaunt to see our team play a League Cup sectional tie against East Fife in the club’s home town of Methil,  a locality which had apparently once been described by no less than Prince Philip as a ‘dump’ during his wartime service with the Royal Navy. A remark which the Chookie Embra has since denied, but an opinion which has been shared by, well, pretty much everyone who has ever had the misfortune to visit the place.

Dougie had the itinerary meticulously prepared – early morning bus into Queen Street, train to Edinburgh Haymarket, another train to Kirkcaldy and then a bus to Methil.

All went well until we rolled into Haymarket a few minutes late and missed our connection.

Not to worry, plenty of time in hand so we went out of the station for a brief stroll around the Haymarket environs (little did I know that in six years time I would be buying my first flat just across the road from the station).

The first thing we saw when we emerged was a group of about 15 sullen looking Hibs supporters who, on noticing our scarves, advanced en masse in our direction.

It was long before Irvine Welsh had created the characters of Begbie and Renton but even so, the sight of a group of Hibs fans coming at us was suitably frightening. However, it transpired that the supporters bus for their game at Airdrie hadn’t turned up and they merely wanted advice on how to get to the Peoples Republic on the Plains by alternative means.

Step forward the human Google, aka D. Davidson esq, and the happy Hibees headed off with a comprehensive knowledge of the train times which would ensure their arrival at Broomfield by 3pm….

Next stop Kirkcaldy and a pleasant walk along the esplanade to the bus station before enjoying a picturesque run through the east neuk of Fife, passing through a series of small towns with quaint names such as Coaltown of Balgonie.

Methil, however, was anything but picturesque. Ive never been a great admirer of HRH Prince Philip but his alleged description of the town was bang on the money.

Calling Methil a dump is an insult to dumps the world over and, having arrived there with over an hour to go before hostilities, and being well short of legal drinking age, the only source of amusement was, wait for it, a cafe with a bagatelle. That’s right, a bagatelle. A wooden board with a series of wooden pins where you manually projected a steel ball and waited for it to nestle in one of the areas at the base where numeric stickers confirmed your score.

Don’t knock it however. Bagatelle was probably the forerunner of pinball and, who knows,  without it Pete Townshend might never had written Tommy.

In the unlikely event that anyone’s remotely interested in the game itself, it ended in an uninspiring 1-1 draw with most of the action occurring on the unsegregated terracing as either set of fans lobbed bottles and cans at each other in time honoured fashion.

The hostile atmosphere continued in the streets after the game and as the two of us looked for an escape route, we found ourselves face to face with a group of small boys, every one of whom looked to be around seven or eight years old.

One of them, who possessed an angelic-like countenance, stepped forward with a rather unangelic opening gambit of ‘fuck off back tae Glasgow ya cunts’.

We were amazed that such an aggressive and profane salvo could emerge from the mouth of one so young and cherub looking (unless of course, Methil Primary School had introduced the works of D H Lawrence to its curriculum), but we didn’t feel there was any mileage in debating the point and increased our pace a notch to ease clear of these mini gangsters, especially when I saw one of them picking up a discarded half brick from the gutter.

A quick glance over my shoulder and I was met with the sight of the said half brick hurtling towards my head, after which discretion quickly outstripped valour as we broke into a sprint and in fact, legged it all the way to the neighbouring town of Leven before seeking sanctuary in the bus station.

The return journey was uneventful up to a point. That point being our arrival back at Haymarket and finding ourselves with time to spare before catching the Glasgow train.

Never mind, it was August, the sun was shining and the Edinburgh Festival was in full swing so a pleasant evening stroll seemed a good idea. 

Bad move. Hearts had been playing Ayr United at home that day and a group of their fans, clearly fortified by some post-match libations in the nearby hostelries, took exception to us invading their turf and we were chased back into the station where we jumped on to a departing train which looked to be heading a in a westerly direction.

Westerly was correct but we hadn’t checked the destination, an error of judgement which only became apparent when the train pulled into some God-forsaken place called Fauldhouse and the driver switched off the engine before heading home at what was clearly the end of his shift.

Not only were we up shit creek but the famous ship creek superstore ‘Paddles R Us’ was closed for the summer.

A TYPICAL FAULDHOUSE WELCOME!

Dougie scanned the fading numbers on the station’s timetable board and established that the next train to Glasgow was not for another two hours so we trudged off for the proverbial ‘look round’ and decided a drink of beer would improve our jaded demeanour.

In terms of shit-hole towns, Fauldhouse could easily have given Methil a run for its money but we did find a pub that was open.

As stated earlier, we were well below the legal drinking age so we hung around the pub door like a couple of jakeys (ie blending in with the locals) until we managed to convince an old guy to pick us up a couple of cans of Harp lager which, as I recall, retailed at 2s 9d each, thats about 14p for those who may not recall the advent of decimalisation. The good old days.

The cans were drunk, the train arrived and we eventually got home about 10pm at the end of an eventful 14 hour odyssey.

Ive watched countless games of football in eleven countries within three different continents and as the memory fades with age, they all tend to blend  into one another but that trip to Methil over 50 years ago is the one where, for reasons which I’m sure are obvious,  every single detail remains firmly lodged within my psyche.

Any idiot could see that we were going to go on to win the League Cup the following year!

you thistle from partick!

(Post by Russ Stewart from London)

At the dawn of the 70s I was a moderate Partick Thistle fan (and a less than moderate footie player). The school seemed to be awash with Rangers, and to a lesser extent, Celtic fans. 

For me it was Firhill for thrills, Johnston’s for rolls and trying to scoff a hot mutton pie during the game,  before the fat congealed down your arm like candle grease.

Some young fans wore builders ‘hard hats’ painted in the club colours. Particularly useful when opposing fans threw spent beer cans filled with pish.

During the 71/72 season two magical results rewarded perpetually disappointed Jags fans: a 3-2 win over Rangers in a league game and a 4-1 mauling of Celtic in the league cup.  To give some perspective:  Celtic were European Cup finalists the previous season, and Rangers were European Cup Winners Cup that season.

During that period at school, I sensed a flowering of support for Thistle.  Not sure if it was closet fans openly declaring their allegiance, or glory-hunting Old Firm fans moving their support.

Messrs McQuade, Bone and Rough leading the celebrations on 23rd October 1971

A few years later I encountered some of the players from that era. 

In 1979 I had a job interview for an insurance company, the interviewer being Thistle legend Dennis McQuade.  I did not get the job and subsequently joined the Royal Hong Kong Police. 

Hong Kong seemed to be a magnet for ex-players at the time.

Charlie George the Arsenal legend and Scotland’s 1974 World Cup hero Tommy Hutchison were neighbours at my Kowloon apartment block as was ex-Ger Derek Parlane, who was a personable chap. 

Regrettably, Jimmy Bone a favourite of the Thistle loyal, and a regular at my local pub, turned out to be less than charming.

Perhaps the saying ‘ you should never meet your heroes’ rings true after all.

However, what is undeniable, is that nobody can take away that special day in 1971 when the “Maryhill Magyars’ lorded it over our city rivals.