Penalty Thistle, Yes!
see also: Every penalty (taken) →

by William Sheridan & Jack Little
Pitch markings of 1891
● The pitch markings of 1891.

THE TWELVE YARD LINE ERA

When the penalty-kick law was introduced in 1891, a team had to APPEAL for a penalty a la 'howzat'. The offence had to be within TWELVE yards of the goal, the kick could be taken from ANY point twelve yards from goal and the keeper could advance to within SIX yards of the spot where the kick would be taken. (read more on this subject via this great piece at The Strawplaiters external-link.png)

Thistle’s first penalty was awarded at Inchview during a Glasgow Cup 1st Round replay on Saturday 3rd October 1891 vs. Cathcart. Alas, JOHN CAMERON saw his kick saved. Despite this, Thistle won comfortably 5-0. “Just as well for you m’lad” said a prominent committee member. Probably.

Actually, it wasn't so easy to score from a penalty in those early days, nor were they awarded so frequently.

In fact, Thistle's first converted penalty wasn't until 11 January 1896 - more than 4 years on from the introduction in 1891. It came in a 3-3 draw at Fir Park. According to the detailed account in the Motherwell Times, it was a fortunate penalty award (biased report!), early in the 2nd half that put Thistle 2-0 up, JOHN CAMPBELL doing the needful. We didn't need to wait more than 4 years for the next one; WILLIAM LAWSON got the 12-yard-line opener in a 4-1 League win over Morton at Inchview just 1 week later!

In a League game at Meadowside on 2nd September 1899, WILLIE FREEBAIRN missed 3 penalties in one game, all of which were saved by Ward. Willie's blushes were spared somewhat by the fact that he scored Thistle's third, and Jags duly maintained their place at the top of the League.

Willie has the unenviable record of missing all 5 penalties he took. Why he was given 2 more chances after his “hat-trick” is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps his teammates couldn’t get the ball off him!

By October 2021, thirty-two different Jags had missed the only penalty they ever took, presumably never having been given (or wanted!) another chance.

One of the 32 was R. LAMONT whose miss in December 1895 was somewhat unusual. Celtic “A” were winning 2-1 late on when Thistle were awarded a disputed penalty. Celtic threatened to walk off but the award stood. The “Scottish Referee” reported that Lamont sportingly aimed his kick at the corner flag. The age of the Corinthian spirit was not quite dead.

THE PENALTY BOX ARRIVES

It was all-change in the close season of 1902. Gone were the quirky six-yard arcs, the 12 yard line and the dotted 18-yard line, replaced by the six yard box, the eighteen yard box and the penalty spot that we know today. The rules changed too - penalty offences could only take place within this eighteen yard box.

With this change, came a 30% greater chance of success for the team being awarded the penalty. For Thistle, approximately 4 in 10 had been converted into a goal until now. This would very quickly re-adjust to the 7 in 10 figure that we've come to expect today.

First Jag to take a penalty from the spot was ROBERT CONNER (13-Sep-1902) whose second half counter sealed a 3-0 home win against Normal Athletic in the Glasgow Cup, the students having 'ceded home advantage to boost their coffers.

Thistle were awarded a penalty in 5 consecutive games from May to August 1906 - the all-time club-record.

Alec Raisbeck
● Raisbeck opened Firhill with 2 penalty goals!

Thistle's first-ever goal at Firhill was a penalty. ALEC RAISBECK scored the equaliser in a Scottish Qualifying Cup tie vs Dumbarton Harp. Amazingly, that was the same day that Thistle scored two penalties in the same game for the first time, Alec again doing the needful to make it 3-1!

16 players have done the same-game penalty double. Chronologically they were: ALEC RAISBECK; JIMMY GIBSON; JOHN TORBET; WILLIE MILLER; SAMMY-PICKEN; NORMAN McCREADIE; JIMMY DAVIDSON (twice); DAVIE MATHERS; CHARLIE SMITH; MAURICE JOHNSTON; KENNY WATSON; CHIC CHARNLEY; JIM DUFFY; ALBERT CRAIG; JERED STIRLING; JAMES GRADY (twice).

It could be argued that missed penalties have cost Thistle two Cups. The 1914 Glasgow Cup Final vs Clyde was drawn 1-1. Trailing 0-1, Thistle had a sure first-half goal stopped by a blatant hand ball. WILLIE BULLOCH's penalty struck the bar and Thistle lost out 0-1 in the replay. AARON MUIRHEAD, who was sitting on 4/4 for the season, had his 118th minute penalty saved in the Challenge Cup final of 2013 vs QOS, the only one of Thistle's 51 Cup finals to be lost in a penalty shoot-out.

On the evening of Monday 19 September 1938, MA BA' McKENNAN put Thistle 3-0 up in a charity friendly at Leeds Road vs Huddersfield Town, after just 25 minutes play. It was Thistle's first-ever penalty vs non-Scottish opposition. Amazingly, Thistle somehow contrived to lose the game 5-3!

John Wallace
● Sympathies for John Wallace

JOHN WALLACE converted 7 out of 7 penalties for Thistle, but 3 of these came in the 5 SFL games of 1939-40 which were subsequently deemed void, and have been struck from his record.

FORSYTH THWARTS CELTIC

ADAM FORSYTH was the coolest head amongst 52,000 at Hampden, when Thistle got a penalty in the 1951 Glasgow Cup Final. With 10 minutes to go and Thistle trailing 1-2, he slotted home his one and only goal for Partick Thistle like a seasoned striker. What a time to break his duck. A visibly rattled Celtic caved-in and Jimmy Walker grabbed the dramatic winner for the Wraggs, just a few minutes later. Meanwhile, Tom Reid, following a family tradition started by his father back in 1921, forgot the champagne. With the co-operation of some understanding Queen’s Park officials, one quick raid on the Hampden drinks cabinet and the problem was duly solved. The Cup was soon flowing with the sweet taste of success!

The Thistle penalty award was seen most regularly in season 1960-61. 14 were given in our favour in the 48 matches, one every 3.43 games. Laughably, however, we only managed to convert 6 of them. Oh Thistle!

JOHN HARVEY got Thistle's first-ever competitive penalty vs non-Scottish opposition when, at Firhill, he scored the last goal in a 7-1 aggregate win over Glentoran in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup. 6 weeks later he also got the second, putting Jags two up against Spartak Brno in the next round!

Thistle were awarded no penalties at all in 1973-74; the only such occurrence of the 20th or 21st centuries.

HANSEN BREAKS RANGERS

ALAN HANSEN scored one of the most famous Thistle penalties of all-time when he scored the 7th, and decisive, goal in a 4-3 League win over Rangers at Firhill in March 1977. With just 5 minutes to play it was a sweet moment! The elegant one left behind a perfect penalty record with the Jags - 3 out of 3.

Referee Hugh Alexander caused a bit of an uproar at Firhill on 21st October 1978 in a game vs Motherwell. With the scores at 0-0, DOUGIE SOMNER's penalty was parried out by Stuart Rennie, but to the delight of the home crowd, the big feller slotted home the rebound. The joy of the Firhill faithful was short-lived however, as the pedantic whistler deemed the first-half to be over before the ball had a chance to rebound and the goal was disallowed!

History was made on the evening of 28 July 1981 at Claggan Park when Jags crushed Fort William by 11 goals to 1 in a pre-season friendly. For the one and only time, 3 Jags penalties were scored in the same match; one from KENNY WATSON in the first half and then counters from DONALD PARK and IAN McDONALD in the second.

The record number of penalty awards in one season is 15, set in 1987-88. With 6 conversions, IAN McDONALD was the main beneficiary that term.

JAGS AT THE SUMMIT

Aaron Muirhead
● 'Arrow' celebrates putting Jags top (in-play)!

Going into the Friday night match of 16th August 2013, a victory over Hearts at Firhill would have returned Thistle to the outright summit of Scottish football for the first time since the 9th August 1980 (when we won our first game of the season 3-2 at Firhill against… Hearts; funny old game innit?). When Bobby Madden awarded a spot-kick for Jamie Walker's push on John Baird with just 5 minutes to go, the excitement levels were sky-high. AARON MUIRHEAD stepped up to take his first kick since the Almondvale miss a few months earlier and drilled it home emphatically. Firhill was bedlam as the fans enjoyed being top of the League, an adrenalin rush which lasted all of 3 minutes until the Edinburgh side snatched a late equalizer. Groan.

In the mid-2010s, Thistle fans were being driven up the wall by an incredible run of 18 months without a penalty award. Finally, on 12th March 2016, with Jags trailing Celtic by 2 to 0 in a Premiership game at Firhill, an award was made with 5 minutes to go. SEAN WELSH converted safely, although it proved merely to be a consolation goal in the end. The run of 68 competitive games without a penalty was second only to the club-record run (105) set in 1895. It also ended a mammoth 25-month run of 86 competitive games without a Thistle penalty goal; again the longest streak since the club-record (118) set way back in 1896.

Thistle have been awarded most penalties versus Clyde (43), followed by Falkirk (40) and Rangers (36!)

WE THREE (PENALTY) KINGS

So, just who are the three greatest Thistle penalty takers of all-time? The verdict is unanimous from our two-man jury!

no0001.png
jered-stirling.jpg

JERED STIRLING

goal.png 13/13

Jered's record is faultless: 100% after 13 takes. He'd simply stroke them in with an unerring ease from his left-foot everytime - keepers never got a sniff.

Top Pen:

cp.png When he scored the equaliser from the spot vs Stirling Albion at Firhill on 4th January 1997, Jered set a unique club-record by scoring penalties for Thistle in 3 consecutive games.
no0002.png
jimmy-davidson.jpg

JIMMY DAVIDSON

goal.png 29/34

Jimmy's mighty penalty total is unlikely ever to be matched - 29 succesful conversions and a success rate of 85%. With his lethal right foot he was all about the power drive, and was our dead ball specialist throughout the 1950s.

Top Pen:

cp.png Jimmy's early penalty against League leaders Aberdeen at Firhill on 30th October 1954 ensured a 1-0 victory for the Magyars. At this stage, he still had 100% record from the spot. It was his 15th consecutive penalty conversion - a club-record which still stands today.
no0003.png
chic-charnley.jpg

CHIC CHARNLEY

goal.png 17/19

'Le Chic' was another with a trusty left-foot; he'd be just as likely to place them as blast 'em. 17 times out 19 he found the back of the net; every bit as reliable as Jimmy Davidson, but with far less games under his belt he must settle for 3rd best.

Top Pen:

cp.png By netting the late penalty goal which sealed the 3-1 win over Hamilton in November '89, Chico sent John 'Judas' Lambie homewards to think again!


Publishing date Originally published on 30-Mar-2016 (WAT).
Thistle Archive Publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 13-Oct-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 13-Oct-2021.




p.s. BONUS PHOTIE (taken by Jack!)

Chico 1990
● Chic Charnley converts, Thistle go 2-1 up vs. Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup, 20th January, 1990.

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