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RIGHT TO REPLY: This is a great time to be a Jags fan

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With our desire to increase our fan representation on Scotzine with the push for fan bloggers, it comes as no surprise that even within the same fan base opinions are split. This means that we give the right to reply to any fan or blogger who takes umbrage with an article on this site – whether written by a fan, a blogger or a journalist – in this particular case Partick Thistle fan Ian McKinnon wanted the right to reply to the recent Partick Thistle fan blog written by Scott McFarlane.

It was with some embarrassment that I attempted to work my way through the recent blog featured on this site relating to Partick Thistle. Like the author, Scott McFarlane, I am Partick Thistle supporter, but I’m afraid that’s where the similarities end.

The main reason for my embarrassment was the fear that anyone reading the blog would conclude that Scott’s views represented even a small minority of Thistle fans.

Now, I must stress at this point that I don’t know Scott, I am unfamiliar with his name and to my knowledge our paths have never crossed. I would also not normally respond to such a ridiculous bit of writing but having read it on a platform with a readership like Scotzine, I felt that there had to be some response to preserve the reputation of the rest of the Thistle support.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this blog and the numerous inaccuracies and pessimistic assumptions that permeate it. But here goes:

1) I think I speak for most Thistle supporters when I say that although we are staying up, I certainly expected more from this season.

Just what were you expecting Scott? We have one of the smallest budgets in the league, certainly smaller than the teams who occupy the bottom two places at the moment. We finished 10th last season and have already surpassed that points total with four games to spare – currently in 8th place. We have improved, surely that cannot be disputed?

2) The club’s foundations and fan base gives Thistle a much better chance than most in the SPFL of obtaining that European dream.

Quite simply not true. I realise that blogs are all about opinions, but this is just factually incorrect on all levels. I don’t quite know what you mean by “foundations”, but in case you aren’t aware Scott, Thistle are a small club who are forced to live within our means. We don’t have a sugar daddy who can invest heavily during every transfer window. Everything that we can spend on the team depends on the income we receive as a club. There’s no one on the board writing blank cheques. With regards to fan base, our crowds this season have actually been very poor. This is in part due to a number of bigger clubs not being at the top table, added to the fact that local teams who usually bring large away supports (Motherwell, St. Mirren) have had very poor seasons, meaning their travelling numbers have decreased significantly. We have also been very unlucky with postponements and TV scheduling. So all in all, your assumption that we should be “obtaining that European dream” is extremely unrealistic.

3) So where is it all going wrong?

It isn’t. We’ve been on an upward trajectory for the past three seasons and are currently holding our own in the top tier of Scottish Football.

4) The Thistle U-21 team seems to perform well week in week out, but where are the players being brought through?

Firstly, it’s an under 20s team. McDaid, Kennan, Wilson and Lindsay have all featured for the first team this season. We also have the likes of Duggan and Nisbet out on loan gaining first team experience. It’s still very early days for the Thistle-Weir Academy and anyone who is expecting instant results obviously knows very little about youth development.

5) Declan McDaid has made a few appearances this season but for all his fancy flicks and pace, he lacks first team quality and needs to face the harsh reality that he simply does not have the physicality for the league.

Hold on a minute. You’ve just criticised the club for not bringing enough youngsters through, and now you are criticising one of the promising youngsters who HAS been playing for the first team? Make your mind up Scott. In any case you are once again wide of the mark here. McDaid has shown some real promise when he’s been given the chance this season. To write him off because of his lack of “physicality” is unbelievably short sighted. Case in point – Steven Lawless.

6) We do need to be careful of our criticism, however. We are not, as of yet, a high flying club. I would rather be safe each year and achieve little in the league than maybe an occasional cup run.

Unbelievable. You’ve just contradicted yourself spectacularly again. We need to be careful of our criticism yet you have dedicated a whole blog to criticism.

7) We need to start taking risks and offer longer term contracts. A prime example in the need for this is Stephen O’Donnell.

All very well saying that, but we can’t force players to sign longer contracts, even if we were in a position to offer them. As for O’Donnell, we’ve had four great seasons out of him, he’s helped us gain promotion and keep us in this league for two seasons running. I’d call that good value. You also claimed in your original article that Blackpool offered £30k for him. Actually, it was £100k and it was the player who chose not to pursue the deal. I see this has now been amended.

8) The loss of players is yet another worry for next season.

Every club in Scotland is at risk of losing their best players during every transfer window. Even Celtic. To expect us to be any different is extremely naïve. Archie’s record during the transfer window is generally very good, so your worries are misplaced to say the least.

9) There are also rumours circulating of AEK Athens showing an interest in Conrad Balatoni. So that would leave us a centre back short as well. It’s getting to the point where Archibald may have to lace up for next season.

Again, simply not true. Centre back is probably the position where we have the most competition in the current squad. Frans, Seabourne, Richards-Everton and Lindsay are all under contract for next season. Doomsday isn’t quite at our door yet.

10) Archibald has a tough summer ahead and if good quality signings are not made soon, he won’t have the backing from me next season. A loyal, club legend? Yes. A good football manager? No.

Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out Scott. I’m sure we could all do without your “backing”. Archie is still a very young manager, but in his two and a half seasons so far he has achieved promotion via winning the league and kept us up two seasons in row, improving on last season’s points total with four games to spare. So the evidence doesn’t really back up your assertion that he’s not a good football manager.

11) I’m sick fed-up of going to watch a home game on a cold December afternoon, where the rain is pouring down and Thistle are losing 2-0 against the run of play and seeing Archibald stand there arms folded, watching the game go by as if he’s too busy thinking about what’s for his dinner.

Jesus wept. It sounds like you’re blaming Archie for the Scottish Winter weather as well now? Would you be happier if we were bottom of the league and Archie was blowing a gasket on the touchline every week? Certainly sounds like it.

12) Summer signings, that’s what it comes down to. I would love Archibald to prove me wrong next year but I just don’t see it. Anything less than seventh place will be a failure in my eyes next year. Things have got to change!

Next year? We’re still in with a shout of finishing seventh THIS YEAR. So I’m not quite sure why you “don’t see it”.

Now, I’m not saying we are the perfect club. The way club is run off the park could still be improved and this would undoubtedly help us progress.

Attaining that “European dream” is certainly not out of the question in future seasons but it wouldn’t be attainable at all without the great work Archie his team have done over the last two and a half years.

As I said earlier, I’ve never met Scott and have no idea how long he’s been following Thistle, but given what he’s wrote in his blog I’m guessing he hasn’t been going much longer than one or two years.

I’ve watched Thistle finish 8th in the Second Division in 98/99, one point away from dropping in to the bottom tier of Scottish Football. I’ve seen us suffer back to back relegations and lose 6-0 at home to Gretna in the mid-noughties.

Trust me Scott, this is a great time to be a Jags fan.

If you want the right to reply to any article on Scotzine – you can either post a comment below or even email in your reply to editor@scotzine.com

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Guest Writers are contributors to Scotzine, but not on a regular basis unlike some of our other writers. If you wish to become a Guest Writer on Scotzine, please email us at editor [at] scotzine [dot] com

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