The misery of setting off early in drab conditions, and the ensuing turgid trek via the M6 and M74, was soon forgotten upon arrival in Glasgow’s most colourful district.
First stop was to visit my mate of 40 years, Colin, who’d recently picked up pneumonia and was in no fit state to attend the Theatre of Drams, something which was distressing him no end. A visit to Glasgow is never authentic without encountering a flavour of the excesses of our Old Firm “cousins” and Colin was quick to tell me that I’d only just missed a parade of a small contingent of knuckle-draggers from, curiously enough, Airdrie, Lennoxtown and a couple of other small communities. Why they chose to graze the rears of their hands along Maryhill Road on a dreich December Saturday morning remains a mystery.
Next stop, Café de Jaconelli. Awesome, and, as it would turn out, an opportunity to observe, first hand, a small group of anthropologically hindered representatives of the evil green tinged, hooped persuasion. I sat, awe struck and numb as four males of this type – two sporting the colours – deliberated for a full fifteen minutes over what bag of sweeties to buy and share and what combination of coins equated to the correct price for their purchase. Given that only one of this lot appeared to be under twenty and included a man in his late forties, I despaired and wished I’d had a camcorder handy to record this event.
Jaconelli’s was followed by the wee walk round the corner to the Aitken Suite where the mood was very uplifting, and chats with forum regulars, RDR, The Next Big Thing, Sandy, Old Scroat, The Green Man, Alan Murray and Honved put me in the right frame of mind for the match. In the event, brother Mark, aka, Homerjag, negotiated a later start at work and took up his seat inside, albeit just in time to catch WK’s faux pas which handed Airdrie their early lead.
Some fifteen minutes earlier, when taking my own seat, I spotted just behind me, a fresh faced, home grown legend, Mr Frank Coulston, which had me asking myself how we might benefit, in leaner times, from any assistance the great man might be able to pass on to some of our goal-shy strike force. I know he still cares passionately about our team and, in fact reminds me of a bigger version of wee Liam.
On the park, not much seemed to happening for us, a general lack of cohesion, Chris Turner struggling to resemble a creative midfielder and a simply awful “performance” by Mike McCurry, a disgrace to the refereeing fraternity, and that’s saying something these days. That said, the appearance of Archie gave an almost instant spine to the defence as he led the way, demonstrating to the others, graphically, the dictionary definition of the word commitment.
Just when it seemed like it might be another one of those days, the great Mark Roberts played one of the smartest passes seen at the stadium for a long time, through to Gary Harkins, whose sublime dink over the keeper seemed to take an eternity to land over the line. Wahey! No way were we going to lose to this shower now.
The second half heroics are well documented by our posters and the second goal, in my opinion, and despite being an OG, was brought about through sheer pressure in the Airdrie goal area; nothing lucky or flukey about it really, and on another day we might easily have put six or seven past them. Big pass marks on the day for Archie, super Kev, Jeebs and Twaddle when he came on.
So, we all left happier for the afternoon’s exertions; the teams that is. It can’t be denied that performances like this merit bigger gates than the 2,200 or so which witnessed this one. And, on an amusing note, I started to read one of the A5 flyers which had been handed out by a group of activists of some or other persuasion, on the way into the game. Printed in Jags friendly colours, the tract talked about “seven billion quid profits” which made me realise, instantly, that it wasn’t Thistle that was being referred to here; no, it was a piece of propaganda published by the SSP. But on a red, yellow and black background? Come on. Except when I looked at the reverse side, it was printed in Airdrie colours. Ah, the creativity of political campaigners these days.
So, after a satisfactory day’s result, an Irn Bru in the Aitken suite and a cursory visit to the Strathmore, to glean the perspectives of the faithful, it was back to reality; the 200 mile hike back to the West Lancashire coast. Plenty to talk about down here to those not blessed at birth by the Thistle archangel, but pointless trying to explain to them the complexities of sharing a city with a divided group of australopithecines with learning difficulties.