We’re pleased to announce the launch of the seventeenth Thistle Pin, depicting none other than Gerry Collins.
Every superhero has a trusted sidekick, and Gerry Collins was that sidekick to John Lambie.
Gerry is another of those legends to have played, coached and managed the Club, and to have brought a sense of fun to Firhill.
A Trio of Academicals
Gerry began his playing career at Stranraer, going on to play for Albion Rovers, Ayr United and Hamilton Academical.
He was initially brought to Firhill in October 1988 by caretaker manager Bobby Watson, on loan from the Accies.
Watson had taken temporary charge of the team following the departure of Billy Lamont.
The circumstances of Gerry’s arrival were challenging. The Jags languished second-bottom of the old First Division (then Scotland’s second tier). Gerry would be joined at the same time by fellow Accies player Jim Kerr. Weeks later, Thistle completed the Douglas Park triple-coup by bringing John Lambie in as manager.
Gerry made an instant impact, with his debut against Queen of the South resulting in a resounding 4-1 victory at Palmerston. He would go on to make 38 appearances as a player for the Club, and scored his only goal for Thistle against the same opposition in early 1989. He helped secure Thistle’s survival in the second tier that year.
Gerry proved a no-nonsense player both in the way he played and the way he carried himself. He quickly got Lambie’s ear and became his assistant manager. It is this role for which Gerry is most affectionately remembered by most Thistle fans. As Lambie’s right hand man he helped deliver a golden period for the Club on the park, across different spells.
Having won promotion to the Premier League in 1992, Gerry and Lambie kept Thistle in the top flight for three years before departing to Falkirk. They would both return to Firhill in 1999 in even more challenging circumstances.
Thistle had slumped into Scotland’s third tier for the first time ever. Worse still, there was a genuine prospect of further relegation to the fourth tier. The fans had to dig deep during Save The Jags just to keep a team on the park.
John and Gerry kept the Club up, then did the unthinkable. They delivered a blockbuster side, that secured back-to-back league titles and promotions. The Jags also reached our first national cup semi final in a generation.
But with that on-field success came an off-field burden. The Jags had to invest significant resource into increasing the capacity of the stadium, greatly limiting the Premier League budget the management team had to work with. Against the odds, the dynamic duo kept Thistle in the top flight with a 10th place finish, ahead of much better resourced Dundee United and Motherwell.
With Lambie retiring that season the reigns at Firhill were passed to Gerry. But budget constraints really began to bite, particularly with regard to player recruitment and retention.
Top players like Alex Burns and Stephen Craigan moved onto a relegation rival, Motherwell, even though they were also in financial difficulty.
Gerry was forced to work with a squad of untried youth players and lower-league hopefuls in the top tier. In the end it proved too much, and his tenure as manager came to an end.
Knocking them for Sixes!
One of Gerry’s managerial successes did come through a more eclectic part of the Scottish Footballing calendar. He led Thistle to Tennent’s Sixes glory in January 1993.
The Jags dispatched Airdrie, Motherwell, Dundee United, St Johnstone, and Airdrie again… at the SECC.
Wishing Gerry well
We are grateful to Gerry and his family for helping us to design and promote this Pin. It’s our way of thanking him for his time at Firhill and the wonderful memories he had a hand in creating.
Having consulted closely with him and his family, TJF will be donating 50% of sales from the Gerry Collins Pin to the Beatson Cancer Charity. We hope this makes a positive impact for families in the West of Scotland living with cancer.
Everyone at TJF wishes Gerry and his family all the best as they chart their way through this difficult spell.