The start of the league season is now less than a week away. After an encouraging pre-season and two good results away from home in cup competitions, we return home to Firhill on Saturday with the visit of Falkirk, themselves tipped to challenge for the championship.
Excitement ahead of this game is growing all the time, not least because life at Firhill is likely to never be the same again.
On Saturday the North Stand, opened in 2001,will become home to the most vocal section of the Partick Thistle support. The north stand, the new Shed, will be where we hope you will be able to hear the sound of the heart of the Thistle support beating.
We’ll have more information here at ptfc.co.uk as the week progresses but in the meantime Dave Johnston outlines just why this move is so special for him.
Standing Room Only
I was brought up in the most Southern suburb of Glasgow, every friend I had was either a Celtic or Rangers fan. But my Granda Jack and Dad, Iain, were Jags fans, local men from Maryhill and Milton. Thanks to them, I too would follow The Thistle.
(Dave's Grandad Jack, at the North End of Firhill)
My Granda stood at the North End behind the goals, my Dad in the area that would later become known as The Shed. The strongest, early memory I have of being at Firhill is standing at the North End, with the pair of them on an autumn midweek against Raith Rovers at the end of the 80's. My Grandad passed away many years ago, but that memory lives on.
The modern game has changed in so many ways, since then. None more so than how the fans are housed in the grounds. At the level Partick Thistle find ourselves, we require seating in Firhill if we are to be part of the top division. With that however, means that gone are the days of The Shed, where rivalries with opposition fans were fought out, vocally, for 90 minutes every second Saturday, with only that fence to separate us.
It wasn't until I was old enough, that I got to stand in The Shed. It had been an area I had hung about the edges of, for a few years. Looking on nervously, wishing I could be part of it. My strongest memory is that glorious night in '93 when we beat Rangers 3-0. The atmosphere was incredible, banter and song, exchanged over the fence and I was right in the middle of it, 17 years old and loving it. I had grown up.
Since the building of The Jackie Husband Stand, there hasn't really been a home for a singing section at Firhill, originally at the North End of the stand, but under the pressure and eye of the police control box meant you couldn't stand. This saw a move to the South End, and a relaxed attitude to standing. Loud enough to support the team, but at the opposite end from the way fans meant any sort of rivalry and oneupmanship was restricted to the pub or workplace.
Fans are vocal when we have someone to sing to, be it the team to encourage, or an opposition support to wind up. This coming season, we will have the opportunity to have that vocal joust with the away fans once more. For the first time in many years, the more vocal of the Thistle support will have somewhere to call home. A dedicated area, to hang flags, to stand and in direct view and voice of the away fans.
As of The first home game, we will be situated in the North Stand, the area my Grandad stood all those years ago. The away support no more than 20 yards away in the North End of The Jackie Husband Stand. Not only will the players have a Thistle end, with Jags fans behind the goal. But the vocal Jags fans will have an area to call home and with that, a chance for Firhill to become that intimidating stadium visiting managers used to talk about as a place they feared coming to.
I'll be honest, I can't wait for it. To get some banter on the go, singing to the away fans, having a laugh with the home subs, encouraging the Jags keeper and trying to put off the away keeper. All parts of the game, all things returning to Firhill.
If anyone is of similar mind, if you've missed the days of standing at Firhill, singing and encouraging Thistle to a win. Then get along and get in the North Stand. Let's fill it, make the fans that 12th man again. Together, as One Thistle.