Friday, 11 November 2011

Cowie's All Time Thistle XI

I've only really been able to get along to Thistle games with any degree of regularity since Ian McCall became manager, so my team might be a little impoverished on the nostalgia stakes. Separating the "quite good"
from the "mediocre" isn't terribly easy!

*Goalkeeper: Jonathan Tuffey*

I only saw Kenny Arthur play a handful of times in a Thistle jersey, so this was really between Tuffey and Fox (sorry Hinchy!). I think Tuffey edges it as he was capable of some ridiculously good performances, even if his occasionally eccentric blunders cost us. One of the few players in recent years you really feel was playing for the shirt.

*Right-back: Paul Paton*

This one goes to Paton almost by default. If it weren't for the need of John Robertson at centre-back I'd have him in there. Before his legs went (and to a considerable extent, even after they'd gone!) I always thought that John Robertson was light years ahead of Paton in terms of executing the role of a right-back. Was disappointed when he moved on.

*Left-back: Marc Twaddle*

This one was reasonably straightforward. The only issue with Twaddle was his application. Boyle runs him close but for quite literally being head and shoulders above Paddy the titch, I think Twaddle edges it.
Unfortunately I never saw Archie when he was at his best at left back, albeit he did a turn or two a couple of seasons back.

*Right-centre-back: John Robertson*

Solid in defence, perhaps not especially adventurous, but a reliable seasoned-pro. Best moment probably his looping over-head kick that had Alan Main unstuck against St Johnstone. Bonus points for playing through the vomit barrier against Inverness a season and a half ago.

*Left-centre-back: Ian Maxwell*

I know this one will raise a few eyebrows, but before his injury around the winter the season he came to us, I thought he was better than Archibald. He read the game well with John Robertson in a way I never got the feeling Archibald did for a centre-back pairing. A true gent who could have done a better turn for us if we'd come across him even a couple of years earlier.

*Centre Midfield: David Rowson*

I used to watch David Rowson when he was a young upstart in the Aberdeen team. His phenomenal work-rate, bullet shot and authoritative finger pointing genuinely makes me wonder why he isn't Thistle captain. He's made for the job. If anyone was in any doubt as to just how much I love David Rowson, ask VBL and Donald Mark Corcoran Balatoni how I responded when he scored against Falkirk a few weeks back.

The crossbar at Broadwood is STILL shaking.

*Left-centre-midfield: Gary Harkins*

The bald one's shimmies, blatant dives and game-changing qualities brought us as close to title glory as we're likely to get for some time.
For me, though, the day Harkins first impressed me was in a Cup replay against Livingston. Simon Storey had been given the run-round at right-back by Graham Dorrans and was subbed, only for John Robertson to pick up an injury minutes later. Harkins was shifted to auxiliary right back and was rock solid. It's funny to think he was signed as a central defender and now plies his trade often as the deeper of two forwards for Killie (having also done so for Dundee). Still haven't forgiven him for joining the cheats but hard to deny that he was anything other than one of the best players we've had.

*Right-centre-midfield: Martin Hardie*

Alas I only saw the Big Mad Mental One on his brief return to Thistle on loan, but in terms of a team having a wee bit of missing psycho about it, Hardie finds it. Time and time again he's dragged teams from the cesspit to First Division glory. In terms of physical presence, brute determination and true footballing intelligence, he ticks all the boxes.

*Centre-Forward: Mark Roberts*

Goals. Lots of them. The last genuine striker to have donned a red and yellow shirt. He single-handedly dragged us up from the 2^nd and his goals the following season pretty much single-handedly kept us in the 1^st . Sadly his legs have gone, but he still shows the occasional moment of brilliance for Ayr and most Thistle fans will have fond memories of the Hoor.

*Left-Wing: Chris Erskine*

He knows no fear. He knows no danger. He knows... nothing. But neither does anyone who tries to mark him! Erskine makes watching football fun.
Brilliance to horror-show. Bizarre to the ridiculous. Erskine for Scotland!

*Right-Wing: Stephen O'Donnell*

Possibly a premature inclusion, but I don't care. I've been massively
impressed by O'Donnell since he signed up. You might think it a little
odd that I've chosen to include him as a right-winger especially given
he was signed to give Paton competition, but he's proved versatile
virtually anywhere along the right flank, is impressively quick and
generally doesn't muck about. An important counterbalance to the
temperamental Erskine.

Special Substitute:

*Simon Donnelly*
Just because it will annoy half the Thistle support and delight the
other half.

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