AFTER he sealed his return to Firhill last September, Ian McCall found it hard to wipe the grin off his face. He was back at the club he loved for a second stint as manager, having previously led the team between 2007 and 2011.

On the face of it, McCall's love affair with the Jags might seem incongruous. As a player, he spent just one season towards the end of his career on the books at the Maryhill club, making just seven appearances in red and yellow.

The 55-year-old is well-travelled in Scotland, having spent time as a player or a manager at as many as 15 different clubs scattered around the country. But after spending the majority of his life living in Glasgow's west end, the unpredictable nature that accompanies life as a  Thistle fan was a pull he was unable to resist. Supporting Celtic or Rangers, he says, would have been boring because they always win. Thistle, however, offered something different: rare victories, made all the more sweeter by their scarcity.

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Speaking to the club's website, McCall said: "Why the Jags? Having lived locally for many (many!) years, my base of friends were, almost to a man, Thistle fans.

"None were working in the football industry … which in some ways explains my mediocre playing career! But they all loved going to Firhill and when I could I would join them. We always stood in the old terracing behind the goal. It was kind of beginning to start then.

"I started to realise that the team in Glasgow that most suited my personality was Thistle and I think that’s important.

"I couldn’t get my head round wanting to watch any team that was going to win almost every week; how can the taste of victory be so incredibly sweet when it is almost guaranteed? Another reason why I evolved to the red and yellow.

"There are other reasons but I will leave you with one that rightly or wrongly, I believe. There are maybe another 10-12 clubs of our size in Scotland but we are the only club of our size that can claim to be iconic."

The former Ayr United boss also pointed out that, coincidentally, there were two reserve fixtures at Firhill that he attended that would go on to play a huge role in his life - both personally and professionally.

"It may have been around 1987/88 that I attended a reserve game at Firhill; the opposition was either Dunfermline or Hamilton," he said.

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"I was there to watch a pal of mine (Stevie ‘Snowy’ Morrison). I sat in the main stand and got chatting to an older gentleman who was there to watch his son play for Thistle.

"He was called John Elliot and his son was called Thomas. I met Tommy about a month later, we became great pals and, many years later, he was the best man at my wedding. Already Thistle was starting to seep into me!

"Secondly, and at another reserve game at Firhill, I saw a striker play, a striker that I would sign a few years later; his name was Stephen Dobbie. He scored five, six, maybe seven goals that night and I went away with his name written in my wee book in capitals!

"I’ve managed a few international players but in terms of natural talent, most were a good bit behind him. Incidentally he still tells me he owes me a season!"