Friday, 23 September 2011


My life changed for the better on 17th June this year as my big sister gave birth to my first niece, Jennifer Anne. You may mutter about me having to man up a bit, but she's a magical wee thing who has made me and the whole family so happy.

Right, so how do we make sure she becomes a Jags fan?

Her mum, my sister, had her season ticket for almost ten years before giving it up during the summer. She was able to attend all but the final game of last season, a mean feat for someone who had a human being growing inside her for the majority of it! She is obviously keen for her offspring to follow in her footsteps. I can't wait for her to attend her first Thistle game. Her first ever football match was at Petershill Park where she saw her adoring uncle struggle to play a full 90 minutes at rightback in a bounce game. It wasn't fair on her. She'll see enough struggling righbacks in her life without having to watch her uncle make an arse of himself.

This idea of "making" your kid do the right thing and become a Jag has troubled me. What about when it's my turn to have weans? What if some wee numpty at my son's school persuades him to go along to an Old Firm game or worse, a Cly*e game?!? What if my son ends up listening to my father in law and decides he likes green and white hoops?!? These are the kind of things that keep me awake at night.

My dad managed it with all three of his children. Even although my first ever game was a ridiculously boring 1-1 draw on the first day of a Premier Division season with Hibs, I was hooked. How did my old man do it? I've thought long and hard about this and I've come up with a Rough Guide to Make Your Child a Footballing Masochist. Enjoy.

1. Create an air of mystery. I remember being about 3 or 4 and Dad would disappear on a Saturday afternoon. I was too young to completely understand what "off to the fitba" meant. I knew it was a game, and I knew that my dad liked it but I knew no more than that. I was curious. My curiousity increased dramatically when my two older siblings would be invited along to this football malarky. I wanted to go. Why wasn't I allowed to go? It's not fair Dad, take me too! Bingo.

2. Bribe them. When I was wee, Dad used to park the car on Braeside Street and we would walk to the stadium from there. There was a small newsagents near where we would park the car. Dad always made sure to pop in and get me a Ribena pre-match. Brammer.

3. Make them desperate. "So, eh, Dad. Thistle are at home today, you know?"
"Oh. Is that right, son?"
"Yup. Falkirk."
"We could get off the bottom of the table if we win."
"Is it still only a pound for me to get in?"
"Yeh. I think so."
"Can we go to the football?"
"I'll...I'll clean my room first?"
"We'll see."
2 o'clock comes.
"Right Vinny. Grab your scarf."

4. Buy them appropriately coloured toys. Ok, so a red and yellow tiger isn't scientifically accurate but maybe, just maybe, you'll hear your child playing with that tiger (which you decided to name Lambie) and that tiger might just be dummy fighting a green and blue parrot. Result.

5. Give them self-defence training. I'm not talking Krav Maga here. I'm thinking more along the lines of verbal self-defence. As you will know, your child will be exposed to some brutal slaggings in the playground. They need to be prepared, Monkey Island style. Here are a few gems that I've heard:
"The old firm are two cheeks of the same arse."
"I prefer to take the moral highground and support Thistle."
"I'm not just a sheep who foolishly follows the rest of the crowd."
(Depending on the current Rella strip) "Horizontal lines make you look fatter."
And the classic:
"4-1, 1971."

So, follow these guidelines and you'll be on your way to bringing up a Thistle family. I'd love to hear any other tricks, so get in touch.

I am delighted to tell you that my big sister is well on her way to bringing up a Thistle family. Which brings me onto my final tip:

6. Sign them up to be a Wee MacBee



  1. I'm not sure if being a Clyde fan is really worse than being an Old Firm fan, is it?


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