Friday 8th December, 2017 at 10:15am
With successful Thistle manager Davie McParland departing the hotseat in the summer of 1974, Thistle’s board of directors had to decide on who to bring into the Firhill dugout. A promising young trainer named Bertie Auld, learning his craft at Hibernian, was chosen as the next man to be tasked with the duty of keeping Thistle in the top flight of Scottish football.
Bertie’s opening season, 1974/75, saw Scottish football undergoing significant league reconstruction. The 18 team top flight campaign was being reduced to 10, meaning the bottom eight sides in the league would be relegated to the First Division. It appeared, with six games to go, that Thistle were going to be one of the sides to retain their top flight status. Sadly though, a run of four draws and two defeats saw the side slip out of the top ten, finishing the season in thirteenth position.
The stay in the First Division would last only one season with Auld’s side cruising to the league title in a shorter than usual league season of only 26 games. Once back in the newly-branded Premier Division Thistle were facing a tough challenge to stay in the league with two of the ten teams getting relegated at the end of the season.
The end of the 1976/77 season saw Thistle comfortably retain their place with a 5th placed finish and under Auld they would stay in the Premier Division for five seasons, having successfully navigated through tough campaigns, battling hard to secure their slot.
In November 1980, with Thistle sitting in 4th position in the table, Bertie’s time in charge was over as he found the approaches of Hibernian, a club he served as a player, too much to decline and joined the Edinburgh side. Thistle recovered from the set back to finish the season in a solid mid-table finish.
At the end of March 1986, Bertie Auld was tempted out of retirement to save Thistle, who were sitting in 12th place in the First Division, just two points above the relegation slots.
He took over a side bereft of confidence having only achieved one win in the previous thirteen league fixtures. His first game, a re-arranged fixture against Falkirk saw the side take them lead, before conceding twice quickly to trail. Kenny Watson saved the day with a penalty to ensure the team had a draw from Auld’s first match in charge.
His second match saw the side gain a precious two points with a come from behind victory. Thistle wearing their yellow away kit had to come from behind as Ayr United took the lead in only the second minute. Thistle led 3-1 going into the closing moments before a late strike for the Honest Men made for a nervy closing spell to the game.
Auld managed to stablise the team and after safety was secured on the penultimate day of the season, Thistle eventually went on to finish in 8th position. In the form tables, Auld’s side were ranked 5th in the league during his conclusion of the season.
During the summer of 1986 Ken Bates took controlling share in Partick Thistle and appointed Derek Johnstone in a player-coach role, with Auld having no consultation in the appointment, prompting an undermined Auld to hand in his resignation.