Ground #: 136
Ground: Firhill Stadium
Competition: Scottish Cup 4th Round
Kick Off: 3pm
Partick Thistle 0
Muirhead s/off 27’, Forbes m/pen 71’
Dunfermline Athletic 1
Barrowman 35’, Barrowman s/off 90’
A nice trip up to Scotland allowed me to see another game North of the border. It had been planned so well. Cowdenbeath who have a possible ground move on the horizon, were at home in an intriguing Scottish Cup against Premier League St Johnstone. That was until the weather beat me (again!) and a frozen pitch ended that plan. (As I write this, the game still hasn’t been played) A frantic rush looking for other games found Partick vs Dunfermline and I was heading west to Glasgow’s best team.
Partick is an area of Glasgow on the north bank of the River Clyde, just across from Govan. Although Partick remained a village until the middle of the 18th century, it is an ancient place. The Kings of Strathclyde had a residence there, and in 1136 David I (1124–53) granted the lands of Perdyc to the see of Glasgow. The Bishops of Glasgow also had a country seat in Partick. It was later the site of Partick Castle, a country home of George Hutcheson (demolished 1836). It is thought the name comes from the Brythonic Peartoc, meaning bush or thicket. This was adopted into Scottish Gaelic as Peart(h)aig, giving modern Gaelic, Pàrtaig.
Formed in 1876 in Partick, the club lead a nomadic life early on. Thistle operated from various homes, among them Kelvingrove, Jordanvale, Muirpark, Inchview and Meadowside, before moving to Firhill in 1909. Firhill is actually in the neighbouring area of Maryhill, meaning they haven’t actually played in Partick in 104 years. The Jags won their first piece of major silverware in 1921 when they beat Rangers 1-0 for the Scottish Cup. They later did over the other side of Glasgow when they pumped Celtic 4-1 in the 1972 League Cup final. During this period they also had some success on the field, finishing 3rd in the top flight in 1948, 54 and 63. However, decline during the 80s and early 90s meant that Thistle’s existence was under threat. The 1998 campaign “Save the Jags” meant they survived just, although they were now in the Scottish 2nd Division and fighting against falling even lower. John Lambie’s return in 2000 meant that Thistle achieved back to back promotions to the SPL before being relegated in 2004. A yo-yo between D1 and D2 then followed before they have settled back into the 1st Division and trying to return to the SPL.
Thistle were currently sitting top of the 1st Division coming into this game. Clearly enjoying being under the guidance of Jackie McNamara, in his first managerial role. Firhill Stadium is a classic ground, although looks beyond recognition from when it first opened in 1909. The Main Stand (opposite to where I was sat) is an impressive structure, although is no longer used on matchdays as Partick don’t fill the ground and they can save on stewarding costs. The North Stand was built in 2002 to comply with SPL regulations as it was a large terraced area before this. Partick were well and truly fucked over by SPL regulation which stated when they went up, that 10,000 seats were needed. As this later dropped to just 6,000, the Jags spent resources that they didn’t need to. The Jackie Husband Stand housed most of the fans for this game as the away lot get a little section in the corner of the stand while the home fans fill most of it. Views are excellent from here and the leg room was good too, so a bonus. Behind the other goal is a former terraced area which was landscaped and still has nothing on it currently. It’s good to see the former entrances and stairs to the terrace still there so you can appreciate the history of the place, despite the overgrown weeds now dominating it.
The Scottish Cup had started a round earlier for the home side as Partick had beaten Highland League side Cove Rangers 2-1. The visitors for this game were last season’s SPL fall guys Dunfermline Athletic. After finishing bottom last season, the debacle over the Rangers saga had affected the Pars as they were disputing whether it was them or Dundee who would take Rangers spot. In the end it was Dundee and Dunfermline had made a reasonable start in trying to make an instant recovery to get promoted back to the SPL. Coming into this game they were joint top with Partick, although they had played at Firhill in early November with the Thistle coming out with a 5-1 win. While both sides are pushing hard to get promoted (along with challengers Morton, who are slightly behind), Dunfermline have the added pressure of current money problems and like Hearts have announced a share scheme to try and overcome these problems. Hearts legend Jim Jefferies is currently working minor miracles in keeping Dunfermline competitive, although he is not endearing himself totally to the fans with the style of football currently being played.
The opening moments of the game were played at quite a slow pace for a normal Scottish game as both sides clearly just eyed each other up. When the chances started being created, Dunfermline were on top at first as Ryan Thomson’s pass to Craig Dargo allowed the striker to force a good save from Partick goalie Graeme Smith. The game however, suddenly turned on 28 minutes. A hooked ball over the top of the Partick defence sent Dargo through on goal, but being chased by Aaron Muirhead. Just outside the edge of the area Dargo was pushed and took a tumble. Muirhead had to go. The home side were now going to be playing 62 minutes with 10 men but did escape from the resulting Dunfermline freekick which Stephen Jordan fired over the bar. Partick still hadn’t recovered from the red card and tactic changes however as the Pars began to press. Dargo should have scored on 34 minutes when he fired a shot over the bar, however the opening goal did arrive soon after. Josh Falkingham and Stephen Husband linked up well on the right and Husband’s ball in was headed home by Andy Barrowman. Simple as you like. The rest of the half saw Partick get slowly back into the game and so the 2nd half looked to be a cracker as both sides were well in this.
In fact, for the 2nd half it was clear Jim Jefferies had told his side to just sit back as Partick took the game to them. Early chances fell to Kris Doolan as he headed wide and Hugh Murray had a long range effort that was saved by Paul Gallacher. Dunfermline did occasionally offer something upfront and often caused the reshuffled Partick defence problems, making the constant negative play even more baffling. Jordan McMillan fired a shot wide of Smith’s post before the home goalie kept his side in the game with an excellent double save. Dargo sent Husband through on the left hand side of the area and his shot was well saved by Smith. He then went one better and dived low and bravely to stop the follow up from Joe Cardle going in too. Apart from that, it was mainly Partick and the home side were awarded a penalty on 72 minutes. Chris Erskine was blatantly tripped in the area by Andy Geggan, however Ross Forbes penalty was saved by Gallacher onto the post and the ball rolled along the line and out. The rebound was missed too as a Partick play crashed into the William Hill boardings behind the goal. Partick pushed forward still and Gallacher again did well to save from Erskine and then was nearly caught out by a Forbes shot but managed to palm it away for a corner. Dunfermline had the last chance of the game, but could not find a way past Smith again as he punched clear under pressure from Ryan Wallace before saving another Cardle effort. There was still time for Barrowman to produce something brilliant as he picked up 2 yellow cards within a minute of each other as the Pars would be without their top scorer for the next game.
The final whistle went and it was Dunfermline who were through to the 5th Round of the cup where they will meet the winners of the Dumbarton vs Hamilton Accies tie at home. With a continued challenge on the 1st Division title still to come in 2013, it looks to be an interesting next 6 months for the Pars. If someone asks me who my favourite Glasgow club is, then Partick Thistle will be my immediate answer. A really friendly side who were a pleasure to watch and be around during the day there. Good luck to them in their quest for promotion to the SPL.
Just prior to KO I also saw fellow blogger and nice bloke Shaun Smith (founder of the 100 Football Grounds Club) who was also taking this game in. You can read his report on it HERE.
- Match: 6/10 (reasonable enough)
- Value for money: 5/10 (better than Livi)
- Ground: 7.5/10 (great ground)
- Atmosphere: 6.5/10 (good stuff from both fans)
- Food: 7/10 (pie & bovril!)
- Programme: 3/10 (not worth £2.50)
- Referee: Steven McLean – 7/10 (got most right)