IAN McCall was proud to be named as Scottish League One’s Glen’s Manager of the Season after the 56-year-old guided the Jags to the third tier title in style.

The men from Maryhill were fairly slow out of the traps during the first half of the campaign as Firhill was rocked with an injury crisis but McCall managed to turn the ship around and steer Thistle to promotion to the Championship at the first time of asking.

The Thistle manager was thrilled to see his efforts this term recognised in the form of the annual award – even if he couldn’t help but ponder how things have changed since he picked up his first management award 23 years ago.

“I’m pleased, it’s good. The big thing about the manager of the year – certainly manager of the month – is the difference between then and now. When I got my first one in 1998, I got it three months in a row at Clydebank. It was a little plaque but it was sponsored by Bell’s so you got a bottle of whisky that size,” he says, stretching his arms. “So I got three of them. But the latest one was really, really nice!”

McCall admits that in the aftermath of the 5-0 trouncing of Falkirk – the victory that wrapped up the title in spectacular fashion a month ago – his phone has been inundated with messages of congratulations from well-wishers from all across the game.

“I had 267 messages and some of them were from top, top people,” he said. “But ones from my friends are equally important to me. They came from all levels of football and all levels of the media. It was great.

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“I know I was a bit marmite when I first started because I used to fall out with everybody but I think there’s a bit of empathy for me now, because I’ve been doing it for so long and because if what I’ve come through in my life. I think some people admire that.

“I’ll mention one – when I first got in I had a message from Craig Levein and goodness me, I was nearly greeting. It was just so nice. And I got one from the manager of one of the biggest clubs in Britain.”

McCall’s phone might well have been ringing off the hook but in the aftermath of that famous win over the Bairns, there was only one person he was interested in speaking to: his mother, who was celebrating her 87th birthday.

The matriarch of the McCall clan wasn’t the only one revelling in the title win, though. The Thistle boss’ son, Edson, was at the canal to the north of Firhill where fans had gathered to take in the game, with the crowd migrating to the front of the stadium at full-time to salute their heroes. A sick line from his dad would get him out of school the following day, McCall deduced, only for that particular scheme to fall apart at the seams.

McCall said: “The first thing I did was go up the tunnel so I could phone my mum and then I came on the park. But yeah, I had some friends out in the street.

“It was funny – I phoned the school on the Friday morning to say my son had a sore tummy and wouldn’t be in. Then I picked up the Glasgow Times and saw he’d done an interview!

“I thought it was very peaceful and very rowdy at the same time, which is how you should celebrate. Of course, they shouldn’t have been doing that at that point but it was an overwhelming feeling of joy – I think because of the circumstances of what happened to us last year.”

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It all could have been so very different for the Jags. Before they embarked on that remarkable late rise up the table, Thistle found themselves 2-0 down away to East Fife, lying sixth in the standings.

When McCall was asked if he felt like Manager of the Year during that wet and windy interval at Bayview, his response was quick as a flash: “No!

“I’ll tell you what I did say though – I told the players after that we’d come away with a big point. I said it in the dressing room. Zak Rudden will laugh but that night he missed two howlers and the following night I got questioned about it in the next day’s board meeting!

“A big moment in our season was when one went in off Zak’s chest [against Clyde, breaking his duck]. After that he was putting it in from all over the place.”