IAN McCALL says that the time has come for Partick Thistle to draw a line under their controversial relegation to the third tier, days after the Jags sealed the League One title.

The Maryhill club capped a remarkable late surge to the table’s summit with a 5-0 dismantling of Falkirk on Thursday night to seal the league title and promotion to the Championship, one year on from their contentious demotion last summer.

Thistle were relegated by a margin of 0.037 points after the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed and the final standings were determined on a points-per-game basis. After a middling start to the new campaign, McCall’s men capitalised on Falkirk’s collapse with a run of six wins in seven games to finish top of the pile as they rampaged their way to the title.

The Jags formally celebrated their success at Firhill yesterday in strikingly surreal circumstances. The kitted-out players held the trophy aloft, waving it in front of a stand that contained only club officials and media as Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ echoed around the vast, deserted stadium. There was no representation from either of our game’s governing bodies, too. Neither the SFA nor the SPFL were invited to send anyone to Glasgow’s west end: a small act of retribution for the club’s treatment last summer.

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For McCall, though, the time has come to move on. Thistle chairman Jacqui Low released a statement yesterday asking fans to “close the door on past events and concentrate on building a brighter future” for the club. The Jags boss agreed with those sentiments – adding that he would like to see a more collaborative approach taken throughout Scottish football.

“What I would say is that we made a decision today – and I was the one who drove it – in terms of who was allowed here but we draw a line in the sand on that now,” he said. “Next season, if we manage to do something great – which will be very hard – then the SFA and the SPFL will be welcome.

“We need to move on. There are loads of things that have happened in Scottish football in the last year which could have been done better. There has been some overly aggressive questioning from sections of the media, which has been shocking.

“It would be great if Rangers made up with the BBC and the newspapers and we all tried to help our game. My job now, though, is to help take this club forward together – players, directors and supporters. We made a statement today and we’ll stick by that but we won’t forget what happened.”

The Thistle boss, sporting a t-shirt with the slogan ‘All I feel is peace and love’, added: “A lot of our players will forget [the relegation], particularly the new ones. I won’t forget it but I won’t allow it to fester inside me like hate: that won’t be happening. We’re full-time but we weren’t allowed to train and we were given less help than the part-time clubs in the Championship, which was as big as anything else.

Glasgow Times:

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“My over-riding message is that if we are successful next year then Mr Doncaster and all the high heid yins will be welcome here.”

Thistle captain Ross Docherty, meanwhile, admitted that the “injustice” of the Jags’ demotion last summer was a handy psychological tool as they bid to return to the Championship at the first time of asking.

The midfielder, who previously worked under McCall at Ayr United, agreed a pre-contract move to Firhill in January 2020 and joined Thistle shortly after their relegation to the third tier had been confirmed.

Docherty revealed that the events of the previous summer were a regular feature of team talks throughout the 2020/21 campaign, providing the squad with all the motivation they needed for their title tilt. And while his first season in Maryhill wasn’t exactly as he would had pictured it when he first signed, the 28-year-old insists that the move was too good to turn down.

“What happened to the club last year was a huge motivating factor for us,” he said. “The manager mentioned it in most team talks, we can say that now we have been promoted.

“I know I wasn’t here when the club got put down but what happened was still an injustice. But we knew we couldn’t go over the top with our emotions. It was frustrating at the start of the season more than anything else.

Glasgow Times:

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“A lot of boys took a bit of time to get used to the fact it was like a cup final for other teams when they were playing against us. Clyde beat us at the start of the season and when they scored you’d have thought they’d won the World Cup. I’m not grudging anyone for doing that, I just think it took a few of our boys a wee while to get used to that.

Docherty continued: “There were plenty of emotions going through my mind [after agreeing to join Thistle]. I had signed in the January and I was starting to look at results, wondering when they were going to pick up.

“But I knew the size of the club, it wasn’t a case of I couldn’t have stayed at Ayr, I just couldn’t have turned down Thistle knowing the size of the club and knowing it should be going straight back up.”

Now that promotion has been confirmed, Docherty has designs on repeating the trick next season with the Jags riding the crest of a wave.

“The gaffer has talked a lot about momentum,” he added. “You guys mentioned it there with us being fifth ten games ago.

“I think there’s a real opportunity to kick on next season. I hope we can keep the players that we’ve got and maybe add a couple more. We really want to try and push on for next season.

Glasgow Times:

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“I wasn’t here when the club were last in the Premiership but when you look at the fanbase and how the club is run then for me, Thistle should be in the Premiership. I see some teams in the Championship and Thistle are every bit as big as them.

“So we need to aim high, it’s down to how we build a squad. But I signed for the club with the ambition of going to the Premier League and that hasn’t changed. It’s maybe just taking a bit longer.”