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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

Blast from the past – Alloa Athletic

Scottish Second Division

1st October 2005

Alloa Athletic 1 Partick Thistle 6

This turned out to be a great day out, as the score-line would suggest. Primarily it is, however, the remarkable story of an import from Finland called Jukka Santala, on a six-month loan from Rangers. He is described in the match programme as a defender. Whatever else he was, he was certainly not a defender, as we soon discovered in his early games for Thistle. All at sea most of the time, he was all over the place, so we hit upon a great idea – we would play him up front. The transformation was unbelievable. He started to score goals for fun and notched a couple in the featured game. It was quite a turn-around and Thistle were the beneficiaries.

This season will see us visit Recreation Park for the first time in ages. Those who haven’t been there for a long time will become aware of many changes which have been made to the stadium. It is, of course, scant consolation amidst the overall havoc and heartache of relegation, but at least on away trips – we have a change of scene this season.

The Thistle team which won so handsomely on the day was as follows:- Colin Stewart(formerly of Kilmarnock), Grant Murray, Scott McCulloch, Jukka Santala, Marc Smyth, Darren Brady, Jimmy Gibson, Ricky Gillies, Graham Dorrans(on loan from Livingston), Mark Roberts, Sean Kilgannon.

The Jags were 2-0 up at half time, playing up the slope(not sure if it still exists) courtesy of goals by Dorrans and McCulloch. Alloa pulled one back immediately after the interval, causing the alarm bells to ring in Robert’s head, but all was well thanks to a rare goal by Jimmy Gibson followed by two in the space of a minute(75 and 76) by newly discovered Finnisher(sorry about that) Jukka Santala. The other member of the Gibson clan, Billy, put the finish touch to the goals bonanza after 78 minutes.

Thistle gained promotion with that dramatic play-off win at Peterhead on the final day of the 2005/06 season. It had been a hazardous journey with a few slips here and there and we struggled to beat Alloa 4-3 in the return match at Firhill. Still, we got there in the end, with big Jukka playing his part. Centre-half to centre-forward is not unique, but unusual. Older fans will immediately recall the scoring exploits of erstwhile defender Andy Kerr. What a revelation he was, playing up front.

Nostalgia is a great by-product of being a football fan.

Robert R

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