The fans believed, the management and staff believed and the players believed. On Saturday afternoon all that faith came to fruition. The players stuck two fingers up to all those who doubted them three months ago when there was a change in management.
Partick Thistle won the Division One title. Whilst everyone from the media to some opposition players told everyone that – “you don’t win anything with a young team”, “experience always shines through”, “why should we be worrying about Thistle they should be worrying about us”, “those kids don’t have the stamina to be able to play all those games in such a short time” – this young team and new management team of Alan Archibald and Scott Paterson quietly listened and did what all good teams do, they kept a private counsel and did their talking where it matters most ON THE PITCH!
Having had the chance to clinch the title at Firhill last Tuesday night after a 0-0 draw with a stubborn Raith side all roads led to Falkirk’s Westfield Stadium.
Another terrific travelling support made the journey through hoping to see the Jags crowned champions. They were not to be disappointed.
After a goalless first half, just four minutes into the second half a Ross Forbes corner was met by Andy Dowie who bulleted his header past McGovern in the Bairns goal to send us Jags fans into raptures and the celebrations started.
In truth it seemed to be a release for the players as well, suddenly the slick passing football – on a terrible pitch it has to be said – was back and everyone wanted the ball. As has often been the case at times this season, Chris Erskine decided he fancied a bit of the party and 12 minutes from time having received a Kris Doolan pass just inside the Falkirk half, he ran at the Bairns defence dribbling round three players, nutmegging the last centre half who ended up on his backside before calmly slotting past McGovern in the Bairns goal.
Party time indeed! As the full repertoire of Thistle songs were sung there was even time for a conga behind the goal. A great end to a truly great season for the Jags fans.
It would be very remiss of me not to mention Morton. It has been a fantastic tussle with them this season. I must confess I think at the start of the season most people thought it would be Dunfermline and Falkirk who would be the top two. I know I certainly fancied Thistle but I also knew Morton would be there or thereabouts.
It is a disgrace that the Scottish First Division is the only league in Europe where second place gets no reward. At worst they should have a chance to fight for a place in the SPL via a play-off.
Right now they would have the chance to play St.Mirren, a Renfrewshire derby that would be a sell out at both stadiums, what a shame that Scottish football is still so short-sighted.
So to Morton congratulations on the season you have had and also commiserations to my fellow blogger Andrew Ward, its been a pleasure to write with you recently and I wish you and your team all the best for next season.
And so its back to the SPL for us Thistle fans. A chance for us to test ourselves against the best teams in Scotland, a chance to revisit Fir Park, Rugby Park, Tynecastle etc.
A “New Glasgow” derby to enjoy, there will be an extra rivalry with Dundee United next season, due to recent events and a chance to renew our old rivalry with Kilmarnock!
I have been lucky enough to have experienced a few Thistle promotions (and a few relegations it must be said !!) but of all of them for me this is the best yet.
Why? Simple it’s the best Thistle team I have seen at Firhill. We’ve had some great players in past promotions but this is a great team. Its young, its hungry and we also have a management team who are the same and will continue to instill that into the players.
Yes we will need to strengthen the team, Paton and Erskine will need to be replaced and in “Squiddys” case that will be difficult. But players come and go from all clubs. We already have a back five whose performances have been outstanding, you only need to look at our defensive record this season.
In midfield Bannigan, Welsh, Lawless and Craigen all young players great engines on them and hungry for more success. One thing that has been said is the fact that in the SPL you get more time on the ball which should suit us as well. Look at how St.Mirren, Inverness, St.Johnstone and Ross County have settled into life in the SPL, who’s to say Thistle can’t do the same.
Have we anything to fear being such a young inexperienced team next season? I think that this team have already answered that question this season don’t you?
I look forward to Saturday when at around 5pm the First division trophy is in our hands, everybody involved with Partick Thistle deserves it from the behind the scenes staff, the management and coaches, the fans and those magnificent players who pull on that jersey and never give anything other than their best.
That’s what makes a team. That’s what Champions are made of. That’s why Partick Thistle are champions.