Friday 13th March, 2020 at 10:54am
Scottish First Division
12th November 1983
Partick Thistle 5 Alloa Athletic 0
What a score-line! The euphoria must, however, be tempered by the harsh realisation that henceforth we would never see the magnificent Maurice Johnston in a Thistle jersey. Of course, he signed off with a couple of goals. We had to face up to the fact that we would be unable to hold on to him. The manager at the time, Peter Cormack, thought that the reported £200,000 received represented a good deal. Hindsight is a wonderful science, but had we been able to keep Maurice for just a tad longer we could perhaps have netted £1 million or more.
Anyway, off he went to Watford and the rest is history, as they say. He became a highly controversial figure, but what really mattered to us was the unwelcome fact that with him went our chances of promotion to the Premier League. We finished in 3rd place and entered a barren period which became known as the ‘Wilderness Years’. In short, the rest of the 1980s was downright awful!
Returning our attention to the chosen match, Alex O’Hara opened the scoring after just seven minutes and Kenny McDowall fired a double on 22 and 35 minutes to provide us with a commanding lead. With time running out, it became four and then five thanks in both instances to Maurice Johnston, the nearest thing to a goal-machine.
The Thistle team on the day was as follows:- Dougie McNab, strangely enough, signed from Alloa. He had the unenviable task of taking over from the irreplaceable Alan Rough, another star who simply had to go. This is, of course, what happens when a team is relegated and doesn’t immediately bounce back to promotion. The full-backs were Gerry Doyle and Kenny Watson. Number four and five were John Murray and Andy Dunlop, while at left-half (to use an outdated term) was the versatile Alex O’Hara. I hesitate to use the words ‘forward line’ as that no longer exists as in McKenzie, Howitt, Stott, Sharp and Walker at Firhill or Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull and Ormond, the ‘Famous Five’ at Hibernian. Nevertheless, Ian McDonald was the number seven in the featured game and Iain Jardine was eight as well as captain. Spearheading the attack was Maurice Johnston with number ten and eleven being taken by Kenny McDowall and John Buckley.
You will be accusing me of self-indulgence, using expressions like left-half and forward line and so on, but it does make a refreshing change from hearing about players playing wide-right in tournaments while wearing 57 on their backs. Nothing beats the good old days. At least people came in numbers to watch the games and outside Firhill, the streets were buzzing.
If you ask a silly question, you’ll get a silly answer. I said to a group of visiting youngsters – Where are those people today? Why are they not attending matches? Quick as a flash from a wee boy in the front row – ‘Please sir, I think they’re dead!’