Monday, 7 November 2011

One Team in Glasgow

Ruairidh MacLennan was given the task of writing about his favourite Thistle game. Although he was limited in terms of the amount of memorable victories, given his age, he has managed to come up with a cracker.

Needless to say, Thistle’s fans, like all others, turn up in fine form when the occasion demands it. That said, not all of my favourite Jags games have been on the big occasions. Of course, we all remember our heroic cup efforts against Rangers just three or four years ago, but there have been many more games when I have left the game proud, not just as a result of the team’s efforts that particular day, but of what it is to be a Thistle fan. Without further ado, we go down (recent) memory lane.

Not yet being a veteran of the Thistle psyche, my first noteworthy away game was a Scottish Cup Tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Highland Capital. With the exception of the trek up the A9, it promised to be a good day. I recall a sense of optimism within the ranks as match-day approached. Despite a very underwhelming season thus far, nostalgia shone through, as memories of another cup clash with the Highlanders came to the fore. I was of course intrigued: I wished to be a part of Thistle’s next cup upset, just hearing stories is never enough it seems! It was of course an early start, but having endured away trips to Peterhead, things had been worse! Nonetheless, my father and I made our way up the, for want of a better word, bland A9, stopping off at Pitlochry on the way. We arrived in Inverness around an hour or two before kick-off, but if I tell the truth, I was counting down the minutes. Being too young for a pre-match pint or such, the alternative consisted of trekking around a cold city-centre in red and yellow. Mind you, living in Glasgow means regular funny looks from blue-scarf wearing youths anyway!

At long last, 3pm arrived. The opening period is a bit of a blur, but I clearly remember Scott McCulloch lining up a free-kick at the opposite goal. There was a buzz, a very bizarre, but completely understandable sense of anticipation, as there always was when McCulloch and set-pieces were involved. The ball was thumped goal-ward and Mark Roberts got a touch to send us meagre lower-leaguers in front against the “big-timers”. Of course, as happened so often that season, some embarrassingly shoddy defending allowed Inverness to level and then take the lead. All seemed lost: the better, wealthier, bigger club had won. Some had made their way to the exit when, out of nothing, Thistle found themselves in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. While the precise details of the award have long since disappeared into neural purgatory, the resulting goal is a treasured memory. Delirium broke out in the stand when Mark Roberts made it count. That piece of luck provided Thistle with a televised reply, bringing with it some much needed financial relief. However, never being good at maths, I attached more significance to what the team did that day than what Messrs Cowan and Hughes thought would be an appropriate way to spend said money. The fans left the ground happy. I left the ground, feeling for the first time, that my team had its moments, just as the Old Firm have theirs. The difference was, however, my Thistle moment didn’t come with feelings of victory over some left-field Royal/Vatican/Masonic/insert as appropriate plot as I always heard from my class-mates following a league victory or Old Firm triumph. Since that day, and that season in fact, I have viewed supporting as a clean business. I was astounded that it took so long after my first Jags game to have something significant to be proud of, but that was a very dark patch in Thistle-lore it has to be said. Nonetheless, I hope that such a victory will be recorded more often in the future, to give the youngsters amongst our number every reason to stick with us. It is important to remember that one game, one moment, can make all the difference in a youngster’s mind when it comes to football.

I find myself continuing after what seems like a logical point to conclude, but I just can’t without mentioning one fair evening at Ibrox when we were all vindicated. Honestly said, I have never been so hoarse the next morning, nor have I walked with such a swagger. It had been a fair old while since we had locked horns with the neighbours, hence the massive build-up to the occasion. I used delirium to describe Marko’s penalty at Inverness, leaving me short of a word for Damon Gray’s placed shot in front of the travelling fans. That wouldn’t do it justice anyway! That’s a nice thought to finish on. Remember, no matter how dark it gets, how up the creek the situation seems, we’ll get by and have our moments.

One team in Glasgow!

Ruairidh MacLennan

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