By Mark Dingwall
At school, Partick Thistle fans were not as thin on the ground as they appear to be now. McQuater, Neevo, Wee Arra – quite a healthy contingent at Knightswood. So much so that a trip to Firhill was not unusual – midweek or when Rangers were playing away from home – a group of us also indulged in Bankies games too.
When I started working in a pub as a student it meant Rangers away games were out of the timescale so Firhill it often was. Later in life our old fanzine pal the Downhill Hack and I would take in a game as well – although he got in for free with his press pass and then swerved the press box – “full of wankers” he’d say!
While Thistle fans hate it, many people in Glasgow view Thistle as a cuddly wee club and wish them well.
Yet things change – where Thistle fans were once a little prickly about their underdog status now they tend to be majorly offensive. Last time they were in the top flight they actively boycotted games against the Old Firm as for operational reasons much of their support was moved around or out of the Jackie Husband Stand by the police.
It struck me that their efforts might be a little more constructively spent trying to boost their win ratio from soothing like one in thirty games rather than adopting a moral high ground about how shocked they were by sectarianism. Substitute sectarianism for the bile Thistle fans spew about Clyde or Airdrie and try to spot the difference!
If Thistle come up I suspect they may adopt the St Mirren approach and leave large empty spaces in the stands rather than giving those tickets to Rangers or Celtic fans. Add in the constant whingeing and I’m not looking forward to it in the way I once would have.
Ross County – now, there’s another prospect. In recent years I’ve loved my away days up there taking the long way up past Loch Lomond and the coast up to Fort William before driving along he banks of Loch Ness and admiring he Great Glen. Normally I stay for two nights. The local very welcoming and the crowd remarkably free of the small-time, small-town chip on the shoulder all too common in Scotland.
So, despite happy memories of bygone days I suspect Ross County get my vote!