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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

Gerry Collins

Everyone at Partick Thistle FC is truly saddened to learn of the passing of Gerry Collins, our former defender, manager and – most famously – assistant manager.

Gerry’s tight network of close family and friends are in our thoughts today while they deal with the pain and sadness of the great man’s passing after a long battle with illness.

That Gerry fought so bravely for so long defied the odds but would be no surprise to anyone who knew him, an individual known more than anything for his battling spirit.

Those characteristics of determination and bravery were what led to Gerry first joining the Jags in 1988, under temporary manager Bobby Watson, to help shore up a leaky defence battling against relegation from the second tier.

A no-nonsense defender, he would make interventions aplenty on the park but perhaps his most important intervention was as the man who convinced John Lambie that a future in Maryhill may be fruitful, and the rest is history.

Lambie returned the favour by turning the temporary signing into a permanent one, making Collins his first piece of business as Partick Thistle manager. One of the most famous Partick Thistle partnerships in the club’s history was born.

On the pitch, Collins would represent Thistle 38 times, scoring once in Dumfries, generally stopping the rot and setting a platform for great success in upcoming seasons. But it was in the dugout that the truly great times would roll.

In summary, in five seasons Collins assisted Lambie to fourth and then second in the old First Division, the latter securing promotion, then three of four consecutive seasons back in the top-flight. Those five campaigns are littered with highlights and hi-jinx: those trips to Blackpool and that draw with Forfar, famous wins over Celtic and Rangers, a Tennent’s Sixes success and a European adventure. The most iconic image of Gerry arguably when he tried to defy a touchline ban by disguising himself as a builder complete with safety helmet and ‘hiding’ from the match officials all alone on the Jackie Husband Stand while it was still under construction. They don’t make them like that any more.

Trips to Linz and then, particularly, Metz were legendary however sadly the duo chose a more permanent trip to Falkirk and a four-year Firhill sabbatical followed.

Thistle fell on bad times, on and off the pitch, and soon Gerry and John were needed more than ever, returning just in time to save the club from an unprecedented drop to the fourth tier. Another glorious era followed, back-to-back title wins as Thistle were catapulted from the old Second Division to the SPL in some style, a Scottish Cup semi-final appearance while in the First Division to boot. Forthbank, Forfar and Love Street in the sun, unforgettable.

Following a triumphant SPL season of survival Lambie retired but, despite his best efforts, Gerry’s own spell as manager was not long-lasting, a long run of single goal defeats reminding just how fine the margins are.

However, Gerry’s body of work at Partick Thistle and his overall contribution to the club was and is nothing less than magnificent, giving a generation of Jags fans some of the best times of their football supporting lives.

Only last year Gerry returned to Firhill as part of a Tennent’s Sixes reunion celebration and was on top form, loved by fans and former players alike, telling stories with genuine pride, with remarkable detail and with the sharp humour he was renowned for.

More recently, Gerry’s family were at Firhill to hear what thousands of fans across the Jackie Husband Stand and – aptly – John Lambie Stand thought of him: that there is only one Gerry Collins. And so say all of us.

Our thoughts continue to be with Gerry’s family and friends and the club is here to help them in any way we can.

Rest in peace Gerry Collins and thanks for everything – once a Jag, always a Jag.

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