The Wonder of You

A young boy of about six sits on a wall, swinging his legs. He is shivering and doesn't understand why he has been dragged out into the cold by his father and uncle but the big bottle of Tizer and quarter of cola cubes certainly help matters. He is somewhere he cannot quite comprehend. Vaguely aware of the twenty two men kicking a ball about somewhere over to his side, he is, however, far more interested in the long row of funny wee blue cars which have driven towards him and are now lined up facing the twenty two men kicking a ball about somewhere over to his side. His dad and uncle secretly sip beer from cans which disappear back into their jacket pockets now and again. He cannot possibly copy them with his Tizer. Asking for trouble. But little does he know that this would be the first visit in a lifetime of visits he would make to this huge, strange place.

Fast forward seven or eight years and the same boy, now a spotty teenager, is standing, still freezing, slightly back from the same spot. Old enough to come and watch Partick Thistle on his own, he has to accept a lifetime of solitary confinement and afternoons alone as his friends have opted for the all too safe havens of Ibrox and Parkhead. Even at thirteen years old, he is aware of the choice he has made, the difficult social situations which may arise, the difference. He has his doubts at times. He has brought those friends along before now, hopeful of a miraculous conversion which never comes. One game was dreadful, the other a victory which caused no end of embarrassment when they played Cliff Richard's 'Congratulations' over the tannoy. But he was at Firhill, his comfort zone and he knew even then that it would always be that way.

Another eight years pass. School is well gone and he pays his own way. But he still walks alone. Home and away now but things never replace that warm familiar feeling as he walks through the turnstiles and the stands in the same place. He takes every defeat personally; it ruins his evening and possibly his Sunday too. Relationships are made and lost on the strength of a Saturday afternoon and he knows that is wrong but he can't help it. Firhill on a Saturday is the only place he can find a place for that misplaced passion. The regrets, the possibilities of an alternative to Firhill have been considered and dismissed long ago. This is a part of who he is and will be. It feels good.

Ten years later. The boy within the man has lived his life elsewhere. But still the sight of the Firhill floodlights as he walks up Maryhill Road causes him to swallow a tear and fight the tingle down his spine. The people have changed but the place remains the same. An onslaught of middle age witnesses some success. Lambie returns. Championships arrive. Firhill comes alive again. And so does his passion. The one and only time he would take a woman to Firhill would be to share that passion with the woman with whom he would spend his life. One who tolerates and understands, to a degree. The special one in the special place. An unexpected phone call from his brother results in a closer relationship than either of them could ever have imagined when they were younger. Firhill brings them together.

And so to 2012. The old place has just reached its century, eh? That young boy of six wouldn't have understood, wouldn't have cared. The man who he would grow into has a season ticket now and doesn't take it quite so seriously any more. However, Firhill means more to him now than ever before. A lifetime of this one, constant, regular Saturday afternoon fix means that he couldn't contemplate ever watching Partick Thistle play anywhere else. If Firhill goes, that'll be it. And he'll stand and watch the bulldozers and weep. Weep for a lifetime of love and passion and obsession. And you're always there. To lend a hand in everything I do. That's the wonder. The wonder of you.