The Managerial Comings And Goings
see also our Managers A-Z →

by William Sheridan & Jack Little


COMMITTEE (1st spell)

Sat-19-Feb-1876 ↔ Tue-04-Aug-1903 (27y,5m,16d)
It seems a bit of a strange concept these days, but almost every club in the nineteenth century picked their eleven via a committee, typically made up of directors and prominent players such as the captain or vice captain. Whilst it's never been clearly stated who and how many men were involved for Thistle, it's known that Scotland's national team typically had a selection committee of seven to ten. Thistle directors probably had some sort of say in team selection all the way to the second world war era, and David Meiklejohn (1947-1959) is likely to be the first bona-fide manager in the modern sense. Scotland's team was picked by committee until 1954 and Queen's Park did likewise until the mid 1970s.



Tue-04-Aug-1903 ↔ Sat-01-Apr-1929 (25y,7m,28d)
George Easton already had several years behind him as administrator when his managerial tenure began, positions being formalized with the formation of Partick Thistle Football Club Limited in August, 1903. Although the team was still being picked by committee, Easton was very much the figurehead, the chief executive if you will. Often he'd be quoted when teamlines were fed to the press, and he was directly involved with scouting and player recruitment. The “faither of Firhill” procured (1908) and secured (1916) the ground we call home, before winning the Scottish Cup (1921). His record quarter-century stint at the helm came to an end in April, 1929, when he died unexpectedly at home from a heart-attack, several hours before a home game with Celtic.


COMMITTEE (2nd spell)

Sat-01-Apr-1929 ↔ Thu-02-May-1929 (31d)
Conflicting accounts of the post-Easton aftermath have Tom Galbraith or William Cochrane temporarily “looking after the affairs” of the club, but in any case both men were administrators first and foremost, the former being from a legal background. There's no supporting evidence to say that these men had any direct involvement in team matters and, in reality, the team was still being picked by committee, so, with all of this in mind, the April 1929 period is best described as the second spell for the collective.



Thu-02-May-1929 ↔ Thu-05-Jun 1947 (18y,1m,3d)
Donald Turner, who had been serving as Easton's assistant since 1909, had left to become St Mirren manager for the start of season 1928-1929. However, he did not hesitate when he got the call to return to Firhill as the new chief executive, and took up the role in May, 1929. In a dream start, he reached the Scottish Cup final in his first full season, playing in front of 211,000+ spectators (our two biggest-ever crowds) in two tough matches against Rangers. That was followed by a genuine challenge for the flag in 1930-31, finishing with a record top-flight goal difference of +33 (albeit that wasn't a thing until 40 years later). He never quite hit those dizzy heights again, but was a real steady Eddie. By May, 1947, 18 years in the hot-seat was enough for the 66-year-old, and the gentleman politely requested that he be relieved of the managerial duties, and could he continue as secretary? This he did with aplomb, and Donald was appointed to the board of directors shortly thereafter, where he served until November, 1955, finally retiring at 74.



Thu-05-Jun 1947 ↔ Sat-22-Aug-1959 (12y,2m,17d)
The Rangers legend had retired as a player 11 years earlier, and had been working as a sports writer for the Daily Record and others since then. He did incredibly well for us, finishing in the Top 10 in 10 successive seasons and reached several Cup Finals. Arguably, he was the greatest of all Thistle managers, and, had he continued, there's every chance he'd have bagged one or another of the major trophies, possibly even the flag itself. 12 succesful years came to an end unexpectedly when he collapsed and died from a heart-attack at Broomfield in August, 1959. As Monday's Times put it “To be cut-off so quickly without being allowed to see so much good at Firhill bear rich fruit is a thing to be deeply regretted”. For the first time, managerial appointments had become a big deal and post-Meiklejohn, the press speculated over possible candidates, notables including Andy Beattie, Jackie Husband and George Young.


ADAM McLEAN (caretaker)

Mon-24-Aug-1959 ↔ Thu-24-Sep-1959 (31d)
Following the sudden death of David Meiklejohn from a heart-attack, it was announced that “trainer Adam McLean will have charge of the players with the directors looking after the administrative side.” This was good news, as McLean was Thistle from a boy, and he was always keen to be involved at Firhill and had played for the club way back in 1933. We're unsure exactly when he arrived back at Firhill, but he had been trainer since at least 1957. McLean himself was quoted as being in the running for the job, although we don't know if he was one of the applicants. He continued on as Willie Thornton's number two.



Thu-24-Sep-1959 ↔ Wed-25-Sep-1968 (9y,0m,1d)
Thistle invited applications for the post of manager and received 24 replies all told, one of which was confirmed as former English internationalist Raich Carter, lately gaffer at Leeds United. “Right out of the blue” as the chairman described it, came the best one of the lot. The in-demand Willie Thornton was a real name in the Scottish game, and in recent times had turned down managerial offers from big guns such as Preston North End, Leeds United and Kilmarnock. Like his late friend, Meiklejohn, he was regarded as a legendary player for Rangers, and, without a break, had went straight into management with Dundee, where he had spent the last 5 seasons. The Dark Blues had finished 4th in the League last term, so this was a surprise application, and one which was almost certain to succeed. Indeed, within hours of the deadline on 8th September, a call was made to Thornton's Dundee home and the deal was done without formal interview. It was Thistle's luck that Willie hankered after a move back to Glasgow, so the arrangement suited both parties. A gallant charge for the Scottish flag in 1962-63 was thwarted by the big freeze, but Thistle marched into Europe all the same, on account of the third place finish. Thornton's departure was as surprising as his arrival, being tempted away as assistant manager to David White at Rangers. The announcement was made immediately after Thistle had lost 2-0 at Ibrox on 7th September, 1968. Whoever thought that was a classy idea needs to seriously have a word with themselves. Give him his due, just as he'd done by serving notice at Dundee, Willie stayed on until the new man was in place.



Wed-25-Sep-1968 ↔ Mon-13-Apr-1970 (1y,6m,19d)
Once again, the club invited applications for the vacant post, and it was another ex-Ranger (can you see a pattern here?) who got the nod. Although he'd been highly succesful as gaffer at Ibrox, he was never really forgiven for the defeat at Berwick in January, 1967, although it was still a great surprise to many when he was so unceremoniously dismissed ten months later. For the first time, Thistle appointed a “tracksuit” assistant manager in Davie McParland, and there were high hopes that this pairing would be a big success. Instead, an unimaginable relegation, the first since 1901, brought the partnership to a halt after just 18 months. As soon as it was mathematically over, internal discussions took place which resulted in Symon moving upstairs, never to manage again.



Mon-13-Apr-1970 ↔ Wed-08-May-1974 (4y,0m,25d)
After 18 months as assistant, Davie McParland took over as gaffer in April, 1970, becoming the first Thistle player to take the position. Based on a great rapport with the players, he had a succesful time, winning the Second Division at the first time of asking, and causing a worldwide sensation when McParland's babes whipped Stein's lions 4-1 in the League Cup final of 1971. Looking after his players eventually cost him his job. He had promised Hugh Strachan a coaching position for season 1974-75, and when the hard-up board refused to sanction the arrangement, McParland resigned on a point of principle. It was universally viewed as a sad ending for all parties concerned.


BERTIE AULD (1st spell)

Mon-01-Jul-1974 ↔ Tue-18-Nov-1980 (6y,4m,17d)
Within a couple of weeks, Thistle advertised the post, and the trend of “the young tracksuit manager” continued with the appointment of Celtic great Bertie Auld, who was one season into his new coaching career at Hibs. The deal was announced on 11th June, 1974, and Bertie officially got to work a few weeks later, on the first day of July. Only the Top 8 survived in the new cut-throat Premier League, and Bertie's Jags never faltered once they got there. It often seemed that in his mind he was acting out some kind of weird managerial fantasy whereby he was bossing the Lisbon Lions; that Tannadice was the Iron Curtain, and that we could do them over the 2-legs kind-of-thing! An unpredictable man by nature, the dour could just as easily be followed by the skilful, and six wins over Rangers solidifed his legendary status. Alas, his characterful and succesful 6-year stint ended when second-tier Hibs came calling, seeking a replacement for the failing Willie Ormond. The mid-season departure in November, 1980, was a huge blow to all Jagskind, and marked the beginning of a slow and sure downward spiral.


PAT QUINN (caretaker)

Wed-19-Nov-1980 ↔ Sat-22-Nov-1980 (3d)
Assistant manager Pat Quinn took charge of team matters for one game in the immediate aftermath of Auld's departure, but the former East Fife gaffer, who had also managed in Iceland, was never in the running for the main job at Firhill. We think his last involvement with the club was the 2-3 loss at home to Dundee United on 22nd November. It seems like his destiny was inevitable, and Pat soon joined Bertie's coaching team at Easter Road, where he would work alongside a certain John Lambie.


DONNIE McKINNON (caretaker)

Mon-24-Nov-1980 ↔ Fri-05-Dec-1980 (11d)
It was announced on Monday 24th (1 day shy of his 21st Anniversary with the club) that ex-player and current physiotherapist Donnie McKinnon would pick the team for the forthcoming match at Broomfield. During this spell, an offer was made to Benny Rooney, who seemed keen, but Morton fought back with a 3-year-deal to retain his services, and that was that. Lisbon lion John Clark was next on the most-wanted list, but Billy McNeill's number two was not for moving, although a deal seemed close; “Partick Thistle will name Celtic’s Assistant Manager John Clark as their new team boss today” claimed the Aberdeen Evening Express on the 1st December. Turns out, a £70,000 offer wasn't tempting enough! Donnie was initially involved in the next manager's era, and he once again picked the team for the 1-0 defeat to Celtic (06-Dec-1980) as new gaffer Peter Cormack kept a watchful eye on proceedings.



Fri-05-Dec-1980 ↔ Sat-12-May-1984 (3y,5m,7d)
Third choice Cormack, who'd been playing at Hibs, was getting his first chance at management, and it seemed like a decent appointment, even if there was an element of rookie doubt. “Peter Cormack was the complete player and can become a first-class manager” said one Bill Shankly. On a personal level, Bertie Auld expressed happiness for Peter, but threatened legal action all the same. What a cheek! £19,000 was demanded, but £2,000 settled the mattter. Alas, relegation and failure to gain promotion tried the patience of the Firhill faithful, who pressed for change. Unusually, Cormack announced his intention to resign a few months before actually doing so, basically quitting rather than taking up a part-time appointment. Somewhat nobly, he stated that he would remain in place until 31st May. The final game of the season was his last involvement.



Mon-21-May-1984 ↔ Mon-31-Mar-1986 (1y,10m,10d)
Benny Rooney and Mike Jackson, two former Jags, were offered two-year contracts as manager and assistant on 21st May 1984 and accepted right away, leaving behind Albion Rovers. “Better late than never” quipped Benny, who had turned Thistle down 3 years earlier. Expectations that they might hit similar heights to their Morton era were not met, and Rooney became the first Thistle manager to be sacked. In a far from ideal scenario, he was told of his fate by telephone, as he lay ill in his flu-bed.


BERTIE AULD (2nd spell)

Mon-31-Mar-1986 ↔ Thu-17-Jul-1986 (108d)
Bertie Auld, who had been out of the game for a couple of years after managerial stints with Hibernian and Hamilton Accies, was charged with saving Thistle from falling into the third tier, and had 7 games to try and spark a revival. “We can talk about contracts later” said the bold Bertie. Assistant Mike Jackson stayed on, breaking up his long association with Benny Rooney. The Auld magic was immediately tangible, and it was mission accomplished. Alas, a very promising future path was destroyed when new owner, Ken Bates, imposed Derek Johnstone as a player-coach. Getting wind of Johnstone's salary and perks, assistant Mike Jackson quit and, 4 days later, Bertie did likewise, unhappy at having been undermined with regards to Johnstone's appointment in the first place. What might have been.



Mon-21-Jul-1986 ↔ Thu-05-Mar-1987 (227d)
It was a somewhat bewildered Derek Johnstone who took on the role of Partick Thistle's first-ever player/manager. As mentioned above, he had thought he was joining as a coach, but the resignation of the Bertie Auld / Mike Jackson managerial partnership left him in an unexpected situation. The vibes were not good. It felt all wrong, and so it turned out to be, Johnstone being sacked just 7 months into the job.


JOHN HAGART (caretaker)

Thu-05-Mar-1987 ↔ Wed-15-Apr-1987 (41d)
Assistant John Hagart was asked to take the team until the end of the season, and this he agreed to do. He himself was in the running for the job, as was Joe Harper. As it turned out, Thistle moved sooner than expected and the next manager was in place 3 games before the season's end.



Wed-15-Apr-1987 ↔ Mon-17-Oct-1988 (1y,6m,2d)
Billy Lamont had taken both Dumbarton and Falkirk to the top-flight in recent years and was seen as the ideal fit for Thistle, but it was all very humdrum and Thistle finished 8th again. Thistle seemed to be 8th for the whole of the 80s. A 5-1 defeat at Broomfield in September '88 spelled danger and, in the aftermath, we bore witness to one of the most bizarre things we've ever seen at a Thistle game. A furious Lamont had all the players out in the centre circle, and, judging by the body language, he gave them a right bollocking in front of the fans. Thistle hadn't sacked a manager until 1986, but, in October, 1988, just 3 games after 'Broomfieldgate', Lamont became the third to be sacked in 30 troubled months.


BOBBY WATSON (caretaker)

Mon-17-Oct-1988 ↔ Thu-10-Nov-1988 (24d)
Director Bobby Watson, who had managed at Airdrie and Motherwell, took over as interim manager. Playing 'The Sash' in the dressing room suggests he was not a Partick Thistle man. The sooner we were rid of that rubbish the better. Hamilton gaffer John Lambie had been approached (whilst Lamont was still manager), but he turned the offer down. Post-Lamont, Eddie Hunter of Queen's Park did likewise.


JOHN LAMBIE (1st spell)

Thu-10-Nov-1988 ↔ Tue-31-Oct-1989 (355d)
Thistle directors went back with an improved offer to John Lambie and this time it was accepted, Gerry Collins having helped to persuade his pal to join him at Firhill. He seemed to be the first since Bertie Auld to have the magic touch, so it was with great sadness to all at Thistle when the ambitious Hamilton Accies tempted him back to Douglas Park, less than a year later. Lambie seen the move as important for his financial security, and bought into the vision of the new Accies at a new ground, and “a job for life” for himself, being appointed onto the board.



Fri-03-Nov-1989 ↔ Fri-02-Mar-1990 (119d)
Sandy Clark's playing career had been coming to a troublesome end due to an ankle injury, and he had been operating as first team coach at Tynecastle. The Thistle job was his first step onto the managerial ladder, and he soon learned that it was no easy task. “It just wasn't the same” was the player's sentiment, and Thistle dropped like a stone, the heart seemingly ripped out of them. Clark was asked to resign, refused, and was promptly sacked, just 4 months into the job. Thistle had to compensate him for the best part of the remaining two years in his contract.


GERRY COLLINS (1st spell, caretaker)

Fri-02-Mar-1990 ↔ Mon-05-Mar-1990 (3d)
Our veteran centre half had recently taken on a coaching role too, and it was he who stepped in for a weekender after Sandy Clark's departure. It was an extremely short caretaker spell, but, as it transpired, he would have been quite pleased about how things turned out.


JOHN LAMBIE (2nd spell)

Mon-05-Mar-1990 ↔ Wed-09-Aug-1995 (5y,5m,4d)
Chairman Jim Donald worked some kinda miracle in persuading Lambie to return to Firhill in March, 1990. Financially, it was the biggest offer ever made to a Partick Thistle manager, but it turned out to be money well spent as Thistle finally climbed their way back to the top flight after 10 years in the wilderness. The legendary managerial partnership between Lambie & Collins was re-united, and the good time vibe was evident throughout the club and the fanbase. Just as season 1995-96 had begun, Lambie was head-hunted by Falkirk chairman George Fulston as the replacement for Jim Jeffries who was heading for Tynecastle. Surprisingly, our man agreed to the switch, this time taking Gerry Collins with him as assistant.



Mon-14-Aug-1995 ↔ Fri-23-May-1997 (1y,9m,9d)
Murdo MacLeod was ending his playing career at Dumbarton where he was player-manager. He had recently won promotion with the Sons and his stock was high. When Thistle came calling, his side were sitting top of Division 1, with 2 wins from 2. From hereon, it all went horribly wrong for Dumbarton, Murdo, Lambie and Collins in this great managerial roundabout. The Sons, the Bairns and Thistle were all relegated - there's a lesson in there somewhere! Failure to bounce back cost him his job; MacLeod, and his assistant, Gordon Chisholm, were sacked in May, 1997, after an uninspiring mid-table campaign in which Thistle finished 32 points adrift of the champion club, St Johnstone.



Mon-14-Jul-1997 ↔ Fri-15-May-1998 (305d)
In what was regarded as a surprise move, John McVeigh, no.2 to Alex McDonald at Airdrie, got the Thistle job in the summer of '97. It wasn't a big name signing and was probably reflective of the budgetary concerns of the time. At times, players weren't being paid, which was a huge issue in motivational terms. Save the Jags raised £150,000 in 3 months and the club, although still fragile, were kept alive. A nightmare season ended with a gutless performance at home to Ayr, which saw Thistle relegated to the third tier of Scottish football, a new low. McVeigh was not trusted with another season and was sacked within the week.



Tue-02-Jun-1998 ↔ Mon-08-Mar-1999 (279d)
Tommy Bryce was another appointed and sacked within the same season, as Thistle finished in all-time low position of 28th in Scottish football, coming within a whisker of a dropping down to the fourth tier. The least said the better.


JOHN LAMBIE (3rd spell)

Tue-09-Mar-1999 ↔ Sat-24-May-2003 (4y,2m,15d)
John Lambie hadn't managed since he was run out of Brockville by the hostile fans in season 1995-96. Since then, Thistle had plummeted to a relegation battle in the third tier. The two found each other again in March, 1999, and, while it was a little strained at first, they survived the rocky reconciliation. Things were so bad that a mid-table finish in the following season's third tier was considered progress, and this rebuilding season was soon gloriously maximised with back-to-back titles and a succesful return to the top flight in 2002-03. Before that season was out, it was announced that the 62-year-old Lambie would be retiring and that assistant Gerry Collins would be the natural successor. They flirted with the idea of making the changeover as the season was in-play, but on second thoughts this was considered too risky and the changing of the guard came at the end of the season, after a relaxed 3-2 win at Easter Road. Up until a few days before the game, Lambie still wasn't sure whether or not he would take the dressing room and said he would see how he felt on the day. As it turned out, Gerry took the team, whilst Lambie swanned around all over Easter Road shaking hands, chatting to everybody and posing for photies. Stats wise, we class the game as Lambie's on the grounds that he was still the gaffer, figuratively and contractually. Sorry Gerry - great win though!


GERRY COLLINS (2nd spell)

Sat-24-May-2003 ↔ Sun-30-Nov-2003 (190d)
The Gerry Collins reign was statistically the worst in many respects, but in truth he was rather unlucky to register just two points in fourteen games. An old cliche it may be, but it's a results-driven business and, after 10 straight League defeats, he was sacked, along with his assistant Bobby McCulley, shortly after taking Sunday morning training on 30th November, 2003. It was a bitter disappointment for everyone after the preceding glory years. Thistle advertised the post, and Jim Duffy was initially considered favourite to land the role, but the next appointment came from within.



Sun-30-Nov-2003 ↔ Mon-20-Dec-2004 (1y,0m,20d)
Derek Whyte and Gerry Britton were asked, and immediately stepped up from the players dressing room as joint interim managers. They were considered as possibles straight away, and were told they had until January to prove themselves. No doubt to the great annoyance of Gerry Collins, they won their first League game against Motherwell, ending the 10 game losing streak. John Hollins, the former Chelsea manager, and a number of top managers (Billy Davies, Graham Rix, John McCormack and John Connolly) were thought to have been among 35 or more people who applied for the position, but the board were unanimous in their decision to stick with Whyte and Britton, confirming their permanent status just hours before the Dundee United game on 23rd December, 2003. Relegation and a poor start to next season's campaign led to their sacking just before Christmas in 2004.


JOHN LAMBIE (4th spell, caretaker)

Mon-20-Dec-2004 ↔ Tue-04-Jan-2005 (15d)
John Lambie got the Cavalry clarion for the fourth (and final) time just before Christmas 2004, and took charge for three games. Seemingly, a relaxing retirement with his pigeons was not to be for the gaffer, who was apoplectic at what he witnessed on his return, branding the class of 2004 as “brainless and lazy”, before adding the immortal line “this team couldn't turn over a pancake”. If he was self-aware he didn't let on, and in his own inimitable style he added “we're all in it together.” How we'd missed him.



Tue-04-Jan-2005 ↔ Tue-27-Mar-2007 (2y,2m,23d)
The board sought a John-Lambie-type character, and Dick Campbell was given the Thistle job just after New Year, 2005. A three-and-a-half year contract demonstrated a great deal of faith that he could deliver. He would be assisted by former fan's favourite, Jimmy Bone. Disastrously, they could not save Thistle from another ignominious drop down to the third tier of Scottish football. By the skin-of-his-teeth through the play-offs, Campbell returned Thistle to the First Division the following season, but struggled to win the fans over, and he couldn't survive a poor run of form early in 2007. Following a weekend loss at home to bottom side Airdrie, he was summoned to a mid-morning board meeting two days later, and sacked with more than a year of his contract still to run.


JIMMY BONE (caretaker)

Tue-27-Mar-2007 ↔ Fri-25-May-2007 (59d)
Campbell's assistant, with the help of Terry Butcher, took over for the final games of the season and somewhat soured his relationship with sections of the Thistle support when he refused to let popular 'keeper Kenny Arthur take a final bow in the (otherwise meaningless) last game of the season.


IAN McCALL (1st spell)

Fri-25-May-2007 ↔ Fri-15-Apr-2011 (3y,10m,21d)
The board were impressed by the high calibre of applicants for the job, and had interviewed Davie Hay, but it was former player Ian McCall, recently manager with Queen of the South, who was unveiled as the new Firhill gaffer in late May, 2007. A second place finish in season 2008-09 was a decent effort, but, aside from that, Thistle failed to make the required progress during McCall's near 4-year tenure. For personal reasons, he wasn't fully focused on the job at this time, and it was considered in the best interest of all parties that he should quit, and this he did in April, 2011.



Fri-15-Apr-2011 ↔ Wed-30-Jan-2013 (1y,9m,15d)
Current player, Jackie McNamara, took on the caretaker manager's role, and, 4 weeks later was made the permanent new manager, signing a rolling one-year deal. He would be assisted by fellow-Jag and ex-Celtic team-mate Simon Donnelly. They built a decent and hungry young team, and were promotion hopefuls in season 2012-13. Despite being at a critical stage in the season, Thistle were good enough to let Dundee United speak to McNamara in January, 2013. As a result of these discussions, McNamara and Donnelly resigned to take up managerial positions at the Premier League club. Legally, Thistle were due compensation for the loss of their contracted management team, but collecting this from the dishonourable regime at Tannadice proved to be problematic. In May, McNamara disgraced himself by filing a counter-claim in the form of a £40,000 promotion bonus, forever staining his reputation with many Thistle fans.



Wed-30-Jan-2013 ↔ Sat-06-Oct-2018 (5y,8m,6d)
Alan Archibald was in a player-coach role, whilst Scott Paterson, out of the game at this point, had recent coaching experience at Aberdeen and Livingston. Initially appointed on an interim basis, they were universally backed to lead the club permanently, finally getting the nod to do so seven weeks in. By then, Archibald had won the First Division manager of the month award for February, and was relentless in gathering points from thereon. Making a mockery of his initial reluctance to take the job (“I didn't want to be the guy who messed it up”), he greatly improved on McNamara's (relegation-form) away record, coming from 8 points behind to win the title and collecting silver medals in the Challenge Cup. Finishing Top 6 in 2016-17 was an excellent achievement, a career highlight for both men. Archibald was on the verge of becoming just the third Thistle manager in history to register five consecutive Top 10 finishes, but it all went horribly wrong in the end; never were the thin lines between success and failure so accute. The team spirit which had served him so well previously had dissipated 5 years in, and, after the meek surrender to Livingston in the relegation play-offs, the writing was on the wall. Negligence in close-season recruitment between manager Archibald and chief executive Britton meant that Thistle were 3 substitutes short for the opening League game, and the poor start which ensued came as no surprise to many of the growing critics in the fanbase. By the start of October, 4 losses in 5 had Thistle sitting 8th, and the duo were relieved of their duties in the immediate aftermath of a home loss to Ross County, bringing a largely succesful 6-year reign to a sad end. Archibald was Scotland's second longest-serving boss at this time, outlasted only by Peterhead's Jim McInally.


GERRY BRITTON (2nd spell, co-caretaker) & SCOTT ALLISON (1st spell, co-caretaker)

Sat-06-Oct-2018 ↔ Mon-15-Oct-2018 (9d)
Some were of the opinion that chief executive Gerry Britton should follow Archibald out the door, but he took temporary charge, along with head of the youth academy, Scott Allison, who spoke impressively and seemed like a strong character to have around. In their single game against Dundee United, they were up against debutant Robbie Neilson in the opposing dugout at Firhill, and narrowly lost by 2 to 1. Said Gerry in the aftermath: “We have identified a number of strong candidates and we would like to hope, all going well, in an ideal world we would have a new manager in the dugout for next Saturday.” His hope came to be. Or did it?



Mon-15-Oct-2018 ↔ Wed-18-Sep-2019 (338d)
Post-Archibald, Ian McCall, whose Ayr United side were sitting top of the Championship, was a much-quoted name but he ruled himself out as “it wouldn't sit right with me sitting in Alan Archibald's seat”. There were a great many applicants for the job, but chairman Low was “blown away” by the interview preparation of one particular candidate. Gary Caldwell had won the League One title with Wigan in 2016, but was dismissed several months later, with the side struggling badly in the Championship. A nine month spell at Chesterfield followed in 2017, during which the Spireites were relegated to League Two. Brian Kerr, doing very well in his own right at East Kilbride, accepted Caldwell's invitation to join him as assistant. 5 losses from his first 6 was a disaster from which he never recovered, and, far from meeting the objective of promotion, Thistle only avoided relegation on the final day of the season at Palmerston. Kris Doolan was made scapegoat and Caldwell's management credentials were severely questioned with regards to the manner of the dismissal. It was understood that a strong start in the League was essential in 2019-20, but after a 1-1 draw at Gayfield, Thistle remained winless after the first five, prompting emergency board meetings. It was rumoured that not all board members had been convinced in making the appointment in the first place, but the decision to terminate the contract was reportedly unanimous. In September, 2019, for the third time in three years, Caldwell was sacked, leaving behind a disgruntled fanbase.


GERRY BRITTON (3rd spell, co-caretaker), SCOTT ALLISON (2nd spell, co-caretaker) & KENNY MILLER (co-caretaker)

Wed-18-Sep-2019 ↔ Mon-23-Sep-2019 (5d)
Inadvertently, Thistle harked back to the days of the committee in this interim period, going for the multiple man management approach, incorporating the chief executive, the head of youth development and the centre forward. Subconsciously or not, this ambitious new template seemed to inform the next appointment.


IAN McCALL (2nd spell)

Mon-23-Sep-2019 ↔ Sun-12-Feb-2023 (3y,4m,20d)
Thistle had been denied permission to speak to Clyde's Danny Lennon, but there was no such barrier in place with regards to Ian McCall at Ayr, even though he had guided them to the Premiership play-offs last term, and was currently second in the Championship. This seemed like an ideal fit, even though he had ruled himself out a year earlier. The lure of the Thistle job was too strong this time around, and McCall seemed determined to deal with “unfinished business”. It felt good to have a genuine Partick Thistle man in the post; it's always re-assuring to know that every possible effort is being made to further the cause of the Jags. At McCall's behest, Alan Archibald, who was still being paid contractually all the while, returned as coach, whilst Neil Scally, who'd been assistant at Ayr, made up the three man management team. Despite the obvious will-to-win credentials, 2019-20 results were truly woeful. Sure, the pandemic stopped play and the SPFL's decision-making was appalling, but the truth is Thistle were demoted with a measly points-per-game ratio of 0.963, the club's lowest figure of all-time outwith the top-flight. An alarming lack of goals in 2020-21 had the side struggling in the third tier until seeds sown finally blossomed in April, when a record haul of 20 points in the calendar month secured the title and a return to the Championship.

In 2021-22, Thistle's 50% clean-sheet ratio in the League matched the previous club-record for the second season in a row, and Thistle finished 4th. Whilst there was a fair degree of merit in all of that, just 2 wins in the final quarter ended any lingering hopes of a title challenge, and it was a tired looking Thistle who entered the play-offs. The lack of all round belief was underlined in the return leg at Inverness, as only a few hundred fans ventured northwards. 2022-23 was pretty much the same story, as Thistle flattered to deceive, stringing together mystifying result (and performance) sequences which veered from the sublime to the ridiculous. Early in 2023, patience amongst the board and fanbase finally snapped after back-to-back home defeats against the lowly positioned Hamilton & Cove sides. Strangely, the public announcement to terminate the contract was delayed until a couple of hours after the next game which, ironically, was one of the most committed performances of the season, as Thistle lost narrowly 3-2 away to Rangers in the Scottish Cup. The timing left everyone shocked, so much so that Ian McCall goes down in history as the manager who had fans singing his name at the end of the game which marked his last! At that point, Thistle were sitting 5th with 13 games to go, 1 point behind the play-off spot and 10 points behind the leaders (Queen's Park) albeit with a game in hand. At the end, 12 defeats in his final 21 competitive games was so frustrating, especially since the poor Championship was there for the taking for any team which showed consistency.



Sun-12-Feb-2023 ↔ to date
After almost 4 years in exile, Kris Doolan returned to Partick Thistle in mid-January 2023, taking over as the head coach of the Partick Thistle U-18 team. Just 4 weeks later, Ian McCall was “relieved of his managerial duties” and Kris was asked to take over as interim manager of the first team. As he himself put it, “for the club I love, I couldn't not step up to help”. He was appointed permanent manager after just 3 games and went on to have an excellent start, losing just twice in nineteen games, a run which had the Jags on the brink of a dream return to the Premiership, in the end denied only by a penalty shoot-out in a dramatic play-off final at Dingwall.

Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 19-Apr-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 09-Jun-2023.

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