LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Partick Thistle

Now owned by fans, the Jags aim for Premiership return

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Aiming for a return to the Premiership they last graced in 2018, Partick Thistle are based in the Maryhill area of north-west Glasgow. Originally, as their name suggests, the club came from Partick, site of the West of Scotland Cricket Club where the world’s first football international took place, in 1872.

Formed four years later, Partick Thistle adopted their floral moniker shortly before the move to the Firhill Stadium, 1909. Under long-term manager George Easton, Partick improbably won the Scottish Cup in 1921. Led by ‘Napoleon’ McMenemey, Thistle scored the only goal, a somewhat fluky effort from Blair. Rangers gained revenge by beating the Jags after a final replay in 1930.

Rangers legend Davie Meiklejohn played in all three of those finals, and spent his entire post-war managerial career at Partick. He was to die at Airdrie, shortly after leaving his position to another Rangers stalwart, Willie Thornton, in 1959.

Firhill/Peterjon Cresswell

Both managers took Thistle to a third place in the top flight, in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with winger Davie McParland making 400-plus appearances over nearly two decades. It only took him a year as manager to achieve Partick’s greatest triumph of the modern era, the shock 4-1 League Cup Final win over Jock Stein’s Celtic in 1971. 

With Alan Rough in goal, and Jimmy Bone and Alex Rae up front, a team of part-timers and youngsters incredibly went 4-0 up inside 37 minutes, holding on against Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy Johnstone and Lou Macari. Rough, a recently qualified electrician, only let one past him in the second half. Thistle’s finest 90 minutes also involved right-back John Hansen, whose younger brother Alan of Liverpool fame was in the crowd that day, breaking into Partick’s first team two years later.

Even in transition, Honvéd easily saw off Thistle in the subsequent UEFA Cup tie a year later. An Inter-Toto appearance in 1995 met with similar failure.

Rough spent most of his career at Firhill Park, Scotland’s first-choice keeper at two World Cups. His departure in 1982 signalled a period of lower-flight football and near extinction as debts mounted through the 1990s. A fans’ campaign saved the club, as manager John Lambie performed miracles with minimal resources on the pitch.

Munns Vaults/Peterjon Cresswell

The Jags yo-yo’d between divisions, before gaining promotion to the Premiership under former stalwart Thistle centre-back Alan Archibald in 2013. Buoyed by goals from long-term Partick striker Kris Doolan, the club’s top scorer in each of five top-tier seasons, Thistle reached a highest sixth place in 2017 – but were always struggling.

Staying with the club for one season in the Championship, Doolan headed for Ayr in 2019, having hit the target 121 times in 401 games, many of them at Scotland’s highest level. The arrival of former Rangers and Scotland forward, the veteran Kenny Miller, failed to compensate for his absence, and in 2020 Thistle sank to the third tier for the first time since 2006.

It was another experienced striker, Brian Graham, staying with Partick despite relegation, who lifted the club back up straight away. Also assuming managerial duties of Thistle’s women’s team, Graham continued his scoring streak in the Championship. 

Behind the scenes, having beaten off a takeover bid from a Chinese-US billionaire in 2019, the supporters’ trust held on to its majority share of nearly 20%. Then came a miracle of Hollywood proportions: lottery winner and lifelong Jags fan Colin Weir spent his windfall on his beloved club and their ground. 

In the weeks before his death that same December, ownership passed to the fans and Firhill to the club. Thistle’s fate lay in the hands of the followers who had long placed their trust in it.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

Set on a bend of the Forth & Clyde Canal frequented by fisherman and dog-walkers, Firhill has been Partick’s home ground since 1909. It’s also the nearest one to central Glasgow.

Equipped with a main stand in 1927 and floodlights in 1955, Firhill was also used at various times by Clyde, Hamilton and even Hibernian. The Edinburgh team staged the away leg of their European Cup tie with Djurgården here, a few days before the home one at Easter Road, in the inaugural tournament of 1955-56.

Modernised with new stands in 1994 and 2002, the ground is today a comfortable all-seater of 10,000 capacity. Home fans gather in the Jackie Husband Stand and John Lambie Stand behind the north goal, visiting ones in the Colin Weir Stand opposite the main one. Depending on demand, they may also be allocated the north side of the ackie Husband Stand.

Note that the ground also goes by its sponsors’ name of the Wyre Stadium at Firhill.

getting here

Going to the ground – tips and timings

From Central Station/Hope Street, buses 17 and 60/61 run every 15-30mins to Maryhill, journey time 15-20mins, stopping at Bonawe Street, at the stadium end of Maryhill Road, a 10min walk to the ground.  

The M3 bus from Cowcaddens subway station (8mins) stops right outside the ground at the stop for Springbank Street, but it’s daytimes only, every hour and none run on Sun. 

The club has an arrangement with First Bus to offer free match-day travel for ticket holders. 

The sat nav code for Firhill is G20 7AL. There is free street parking on Garscube Road (G20 7JX) and the streets leading off it, about 10 mins from the ground. On busy match days, the police may close Firhill Road either side of the game.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

The main ticket office (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, match days 10am-90mins before kick-off) distributes in the run-up to each match. Tickets are also sold online.

On match days, tickets are sold from 90mins before kick-off at the portable office behind the Jackie Husband Stand. For the John Lambie Stand, cash turnstiles operate.

Prices are set at £20, £15 for seniors and full-time students. It’s free admission for under-16s.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The club has a matchday outlet behind the Main Stand on Firhill Road and otherwise operates an online service

The current home shirt of red, yellow and black stripes comes with black sleeves, the away top a strange combination of pink-and-grey hoops. The inventive third choice shows a street map of Maryhill in the Partick colours of red and yellow, with Firhill just below the badge.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

If you’re walking up Maryhill Road from St George’s Cross subway, you’ll first come to the Royalty Bar (No.144), a sports pub preferred by Rangers fans. Further up on the other side of the street, the Woodside Inn (No.239) is more of a Thistle hang-out, with TV sport and a decent menu. Away fans welcome on match days.

Prime spot is the Munns Vaults (No.610), just after the turning for Firhill. Partick paraphernalia, framed shirts and the like, brighten a darkish interior equipped with a pool table.