League Cup Glory 2010
League Cup Glory 2010

by William Sheridan

Losing football matches can often leave you in an exaggerated state of despair, but losing a member of your family jolts us into the real deal perspective, and never was that more acutely highlighted than on the 10th April 2010. Dundee were the visitors to Firhill on league business and young Kieran Burns, only just turned 18, was a listed substitute for the second week in a row. He had made his first team debut the week before, and was all set to register appearance #2, when some devastating news filtered through to the dressing room, as Thistle manager Ian McCall explained:
Ian McCall
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Just twenty minutes before the game was due to start young Kieran Burns, who was listed among the substitutes, was given the horrible news that his father, who had been ill for some time, had passed away. It was a horrible situation and the thoughts of everyone associated with Partick Thistle are with Kieran and his family at this most difficult time. Kieran is a player with a great attitude and has a bright future here at Partick Thistle. I was proud of the way the players reacted to that news and the way that they rallied round 'one of our own' when they heard that news. I was proud too, as proud as I have ever been of a squad of players, of how they played after hearing that news so close to kick-off. I think that showed how much they care and how much they care about Partick Thistle.

Kieran Burns
● Kieran Burns, 2009 (SNS/JH)

And whilst that sad event may have put football in perspective, it could also be said that it was a perfect example of how negative energy can sometimes be channelled positively, and this was surely demonstrated in the weeks which immediately followed. Although injury delayed Kieran's start to the 2009-10 season, he was the under 19s leading scorer, and his form had been recognised by Ian McCall in April when he made his first team debut against Airdrie United. As the season drew to a close, he would now be juggling fixture schedules between first team and the under-19s. And he wasn't alone in doing so. In the closing weeks of the season three members of the Thistle under 19 side (Ryan MacBeth, Kieran Burns & Ross McGeough) featured on the park for the first team and looked perfectly at ease there. When Ian McCall became Thistle manager in May 2007 he spoke about the importance of developing a good youth structure at the club. These things don't happen overnight though, especially when you're starting almost from square one, as Thistle were at that time. While the new Partick Thistle youth structure was still embryonic, there were some sure signs that something worthwhile may be emerging from it.

The under 19s, under the shrewd tutelage of former star player Ian Cameron, had been in excellent form in the second half of the season and were in a good place. Their league campaign over, attention turned to the final challenge of the season… the SFL Youth Cup. Thistle were drawn in Group B of the West section alongside Dumbarton, Morton and Queen of the South. Each side would play each other once, with the four sectional winners qualifying for the semi-finals.

Sun-11-Apr-2010 Dumbarton 1 Partick Thistle 2 (SFL Youth U-19 Cup - Group B West, game 1)

Stuart Bannigan
● Stuart Bannigan, 2009 (SNS/JH)

Thistle's tournament got underway at Glenhead Park in Duntocher, an 11am kick-off. As first-team manager Ian McCall would note, Kieran Burns fantastic attitude to the game was exemplified by the fact that he was in line to play in this opening game, and it would prove to be a special afternoon for him. Turning out less than 24 hours following his father's death, it was KIERAN BURNS that opened the scoring for Thistle. The reaction from Kieran's team mates and coaching staff to his goal was a genuinely touching moment and was an indication of a great sense of togetherness with the group of players. Thistle's other goal in the 2-1 win was scored by STUART BANNIGAN. It was hard-fought game, but the Jags were off to a winning start.

Sun-18-Apr-2010 Partick Thistle 3 Greenock Morton 0 (SFL Youth U-19 Cup - Group B West, game 2)

Seven days on from the narrow opening victory, the U19s enjoyed a more comfortable 3-0 success against Morton. SCOTT TULLY was on target twice, one a penalty, with SHAUN FRASER netting the other. This was a fine win over a Morton side which had defeated Thistle in the league earlier in the season. A win, or even a draw, in Thistle's final group game against Queen of the South would now be enough to see Thistle top the section and qualify for the last four of the competition.

Sun-25-Apr-2010 Queen of the South 2 Partick Thistle 3 (SFL Youth U-19 Cup - Group B West, game 3)

On match day three it was down to Dumfries, for a 1pm kick-off at the Keswick Centre. The young Jags needed only a point to win the group, but secured their place in the semi-finals of the SFL Youth Cup via a 100% win rate after the three sectional matches. KIERAN BURNS (who played for the first team the day before) well and truly had his shooting boots on, scoring two of the three Thistle goals. The other Thistle was an own goal but even then Kieran had a part to play; it was his low cross that was turned into the net. These days we'd be calling a 'direct goal involvements' hat-trick!

Sun-02-May-2010 Airdrie United 1 Partick Thistle 3 (SFL Youth U-19 Cup Semi Final)

It's always great fun doing the Airdrie over, especially on their own turf when knocking them out of the cup, and the young Jags seized their opportunity to do just that in the semi final, played at Airdrie Leisure Centre. They were at it straight away from the 11am kick-off, and KYLE LOCHHEAD gave them the early lead. The home side came back to equalise, but ROSS McGEOUGH restored Thistle's advantage and KYLE LOCHHEAD, with his second of the game, gave the Jags a two goal cushion, which sparked big celebrations!

WHO'S WHO? THE A-Z…

And so, with 4 wins on 4 successive Sundays, the young Jags were through to the final, which was all set for the following Saturday, 8th May 2010. League champions Livingston would be the rather daunting opponents and, somewhat unreasonably, the game would take place at Bankton Mains in Livingston. In the build-up to the big match, the club website ran a mini pen-pics A-Z feature on the squad which had the club on the verge of adding some silverware to the cabinet:

Bannigan, Stuart Season 2009/2010 was his first as Firhill under the Modern Apprentice scheme. Previously with Celtic midfielder Bannigan had been with the Thistle under 17 side before turning full-time last summer.

Baxter, Jonathon Previously with Queen's Park and Park Villa BC this is Jonathon's second season as part of the Thistle youth structure.

Burns, Kieran Is enjoying an excellent first season as a full time player at Firhill. Although injury delayed his start to the season he is the under 19s leading scorer and in April made his first team debut against Airdrie United.

Campbell, Jamie Jamie had already featured for the Thistle under 17 and under 19 sides before he turned full-time at Firhill just under a year ago. Highly rated by the coaching staff Jamie, who comes from Greenock, was previously with Inverclyde BFC.

Dunbar, Andrew Plays in midfield. With previously with St Mirren Youth. This is Andrew's second full season as he was in our 17s squad.

Fraser, Shaun The former Lennox Youth FC player joined Thistle last August and has comfortably made the step up to the Thistle under 19 side. Has been in excellent goal scoring form in the second half of the season.

Hodge, Scott Part of Partick Thistle BC in season 2005-2006, Scott returned to the Thistle youth set up a couple of years ago after a period with Clyde Thistle BC.

Lochhead, Kyle Defender Kyle is just ending his first season as a full-timer at Firhill. Previously with St Johnstone, Kyle scored twice in the semi-final win against Airdrie United. Kyle's brother Blair keeps goal for the Thistle under 16 side.

MacBeth, Ryan Made his first team debut for Thistle against Stirling Albion in the 2008-2009 Scottish Cup and has since made a further three first team appearances including the full 90 minutes against Queen of the South on Saturday. Is returning from a trial period with Bolton Wanderers to play in Sunday's final.

McDermott, Ciaran Although not full-time at Firhill, defender Ciaran, a former St Mirren youth player, has featured for the Thistle reserve team this season.

McGeough, Ross Has made excellent progress this season culminating in making his first team debut against Raith Rovers at Firhill. Recently signed a new contract at Firhill that will keep him at Firhill beyond his two years as an apprentice.

Pearce, Lance South African born, although he now hails from the less exotic Mearnskirk, joined Thistle from Eastwood Charlton YFC.

Scully, Ryan A goalkeeper with a bright future ahead of him. After finishing his second year at a Firhill trainee he signed a new contract that will see him continue his football education as a Partick Thistle player. Has been substitute goalkeeper for the Thistle first team twice this season.

Shepherd, Graeme Another young Thistle goalkeeper with a bright future ahead of him. Season 2009/2010 was his first as a full-time player at Firhill and he has made excellent progress.

Stevenson, Colin After spending a couple of years as part of the Morton youth set up, Colin joined Thistle in September 2008 and last summer joined the Club full-time.

Tully, Scott Just about to complete his second season as a full-time player at Firhill. The former Balmoral BC and Ayr Boswell BC player had a spell on loan with Maybole Juniors earlier this season.

BELIEF

To defeat Livingston in their own backyard would be a tall order. Thistle had been thumped 4-0 in the league back in September. The 'Livi Lions' had one of the most enviable youth structures in the country at the time. They had cruised with ease to the SFL Under 19 Youth Division title, dropping just a handful of points and banging in over 90 goals in just 20 matches. Twice during the campaign they registered double figures and whipped Ayr United by 14 goals to nil. They ran to 9 on a further two occasions. However, Thistle were not entirely without hope. Indeed, there was a quiet air of confidence within the camp. A few of the boys had first team experience under their belt, and star man Ryan MacBeth was returning from his loan at Bolton, especially to play in the final. Since the turn of the year, the Thistle Under 19s had played 17 fixtures, winning 11 and drawing 3. They had plenty of reasons to believe.

Sat-08-May-2010 Livingston 2 Partick Thistle 3 (SFL Youth U-19 Cup Final)

The match kicked-off at 2.30pm at Bankton Mains, Livingston and the SFL website report carried the fine opening line that “Ian Cameron's under 19 side did Partick Thistle proud by lifting the SFL League Cup with a 3-2 win over league champions Livingston…

Scott Tully
● Scott Tully, 2009 (SNS/JH)

Against a side that had won the league with ease, Thistle fell behind as early as the third minute when Cummings turned sharply inside the box and the Jags' prospects didn't look good. Thistle were level though just ten minutes later. Kieran Burns put pressure on the Livingston goalkeeper and when he lost the ball SCOTT TULLY was on hand to roll the ball into the empty net. Three minutes later and Thistle were in front. KIERAN BURNS again put the Livingston keeper under pressure and this time he was to benefit from his own hard work as he knocked the ball home to put Thistle ahead. Thistle we paying little heed to their tag as outsiders and Stuart Bannigan tested a jittery looking Livi keeper with a shot after 21 minutes. At the other end Ryan Scully was looking anything but jittery, producing two excellent saves as Thistle preserved their advantage to the break.

Thistle had been under a fair bit of pressure during stages of the first half and the early exchanges of the second half followed a similar pattern. Inside the first minute of the half it took two further fine saves from the impressive Scully and then a block by a defender to keep the score at 2-1. It wasn't all one way traffic though and a Kieran Burns snap shot in the 50th minute nearly caught out the Livingston keeper and a minute later Burns set up substitute Shaun Fraser who saw his shot turned round the post for a corner. Ryan Scully again under lined his obvious potential with a fine stop in the 55th minute but he had to admit defeat less than a minute later when a shot from Malone from fully 25 yards out left Scully with absolutely no chance. For a while it looked as if Livi might push on from that and Scully was again called into action to keep out a free kick from the corner of the box out. Thistle continued to look a threat on the counter attack and when Kieran Burns slipped a pass through to Shaun Fraser, Fraser's chip very nearly went over the keeper's head.

Kieran Burns pen
● The decisive kick… (PTFC)

The game's decisive moment arrived in the 77th minute. A Livingston defender was a little harshly adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box with the result a Thistle penalty. KIERAN BURNS was the man entrusted to take the kick (pictured) and after a lengthy delay he despatched the ball into the back of the net despite the Livi keeper managing to get his hands to the ball. Thistle had to withstand some late pressure from Livingston but they clung on to lift the cup.

Livi: Jamieson, Welsh, D. Jacobs, Fordyce, Hastings, Cummings, Gray, K. Jacobs, Malone, McNulty, S. Jacobs.

Thistle: Scully, McGeough, Baxter (Dunbar), Stevenson, McDermott, Campbell, Lochhead, Bannigan (Pearce), Tully (Fraser), Burns, MacBeth.

Ian Cameron

After the match, coach Ian Cameron was clearly a happy man:

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I thought the boys were fantastic today and I'm very proud of them. Livingston are a fantastic team. From 20 league games they won 18 and drew one. In their 4 League Cup ties they scored no fewer than 24 goals and have about 6 or 7 players in their first team. We knew, therefore, that we would need a bit of luck to win this afternoon and we did get a wee break with the penalty. That said, the attitude of players was brilliant and you can see from their reaction how much it means to them. In many respects developing as a footballer is learning about how to play and win cup finals and deal with pressurised occasions and they certainly did that this afternoon. It has taken Livingston about ten years to produce the youth system that they have and we have to try and make sure that we push on from this ourselves. We can't afford to stop and start with youth development but keep progressing from year to year. Winning the cup today will hopefully give inspiration to the players we have at under 16 and under 17 level as we aim to do just that. It means a lot to the players but it means a lot to the club as well and in my opinion this is the way forward for Partick Thistle Football Club.

League Cup 2010
● That winning feeling! (PTFC)


Dedicated to the memory of Mr. Burns.


With special thanks to ptfc.co.uk external-link.png for various reports from back in the day.

Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 17-Jan-2024.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 17-Jan-2024.

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