A Thistle Worth Grasping

Date: 16th December 2022

(Photo: @homesoffootball Twitter)

This week’s first blog from our Donald.

A Thistle worth grasping

“Partick Thistle nil”

It’s an old Billy Connolly joke and is likely to elicit groans and shakes of the head from the faithful. The fact is that, like many teams and clubs in Scotland, they have had highs and they have had lows. They have seen significant investment and they have almost found oblivion.

But there has been a constant.

Often described as “the faithful” the fans, supporters and the consistent terracing figures are the ones who keep a faith that can be dimmed by poor results, bad management and terrible decision making in a board room.

But they continue to turn up – because the definition of supporting is exactly and precisely that.

They can also be fodder for experimentation.

Let’s try something and see if it works with season tickets, archaic thinking and innovative practice. A new income stream or an engagement strategy is floated to see what runs up the flagpole and who salutes it. Management speak in search of change is found to bamboozle and confuse punters, because in their everyday, they hear it. Their weekend should be more about the 4-4-2 or the 4-3-3 or whether they are pressing high enough up the pitch or why there has been no movement in the transfer window.

But occasionally, the fans find a voice.

And when they do… it is apparently and according to the departing directors at Partick Thistle, “destructive”.

Now I have not followed this story with any degree of intensity. It’s not my club. There are Thistle fans and supporters, who, if they disagree with me, shall use that fact to discredit my conclusion. And that is fine. It is their club, and I can take it.

What disturbed me was not what they were saying or indeed how they were saying it, but how it was being reported.

One of the reasons why I have not followed this story is because it has complexity. I am also aware – all be it vaguely – of shenanigans at Dumbarton – but that is another story. I could also feel a little smug because my own club, having lost a fantastic manager in Ian McCall to Thistle, has found a management team that has transformed my club on and off the park into a wee powerhouse.

But I am not smug.

I believe that 42 clubs should exist in Scotland. In fact, in a mass participation sport like football and given the tremendous success of the likes of Ross County and FC Edinburgh and Inverness Caledonian Thistle we could probably do with more movement in who that 42 should be, even expanding the 42 to having a bigger professional set up.

In short, I want all the existing clubs to survive because I can see what they mean to their communities. And right now, more than ever before, they are the warmth – literally – at their heart.

So why am I upset at what has been described as “destructive”?

The departing directors, in their statemen has taken a sideswipe at how the fans’ protest could have affected sponsorship and how they have bought into a false narrative about fan ownership, and they could damage the club that they “claim to love”.

Pardon me for carping from the sidelines but can I just point out that the most significant investment came from a couple who had few of the “skills” possessed by the outgoing directors and who were clear about fan ownership which that board have singularly failed to deliver. The largest investor in their club wanted something to happen – it has not… damage? By the fans? I don’t think so… False narrative? Funny that it is mentioned but never explained. And the BBC report which gave me my source, didn’t either…

Now, I may be wrong, and I know quite a few Thistle fans shall read this and they might take offence. They might just send me messages telling me how wrong I am – and I shall listen, and I shall change my view if convinced by their argument – the fact it is their club is a great starting point for being utterly convinced they are right.

But I shall listen, adapt and survive.

Dear God, is it that hard?


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