A Trip to Partick

Partick

Andy Wilkinson was Stoke City through and through, but many people forget about his short stint at Partick Thistle.

This weekend I took a trip to Firhill to follow in the footsteps of Wilkinson, watching their Betfred League Cup tie against Queen’s Park.

Wilkinson played 17 times for Thistle and, most memorably, scored the only professional goal of his career whilst with the Glaswegian side. That strike came in a 1-1 draw with Clyde in the Scottish First Division, although the club were to be ultimately relegated.

Whilst Wilkinson’s time at the club was brief- for just half of the 2004-05 campaign- he remains an immensely popular figure north of the border.

In 2011 he became just the seventh former Thistle to play in an English FA Cup Final, something Partick are very proud of.

Wilkinson had moved on loan to Shrewsbury by the time Partick’s second successive relegation was confirmed, but the club have endured better times over the last decade.

This is The Jags’ fourth consecutive campaign in the top flight and they made light work of Glasgow rivals Queen’s Park on Saturday to make it four wins out of four in Group E of the competition.

Of course Wilkinson isn’t the only Stoke player of this century to have connections with Thistle. David Rowson’s move to Staffordshire from Aberdeen did not go to plan, but he did enjoy a successful time with Partick upon leaving Stoke.

The midfielder’s time at Stoke was blighted by injury, restricting him to just 18 appearances, but he did go onto play more than 200 games in two spells for Partick.

Rowson is highly thought of at Firhill and won the club’s player of the season award in 2007-08.

But it was a man following in Wilkinson’s footsteps who shone during Saturday’s 2-0 victory.

Ziggy Gordon, Thistle’s new right back, was clearly cut from the same bread as Wilko- crunching into tackles and at one-point flying into an advertising hoarding.

KingsleyDespite blood pouring from his arm after the incident, Gordon carried on with little more than a Scottish wince. Although Wilkinson’s time at Thistle saw him play in the centre of defence, he would have had a little smirk at Gordon’s determination to play through the pain barrier.

In more recent times, Stoke fans are probably more familiar with Partick for their unveiling of ‘Kingsley’- a rather unique looking mascot who yours truly met on Saturday. The stuff of nightmares, surely…but a magnificent marketing ploy from a club forever in the shadows of Glaswegian giants Celtic and Rangers.

Hopefully Thistle can extend their stay in the Scottish top flight this coming season, and after a successful start to their cup campaign there is cautious optimism they can secure a top half finish.

It was a delight to spend time at Partick Thistle and I thank the club for their excellent hospitality on a surprisingly warm Glasgow day.

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