IAN PAUL talks to Robert Reid, author of a fan's guide to Partick Thistle.

IF it is possible to dream in colour, Robert Reid's nights will be drenched in vivid red and yellow. The man who has been following the undulating path of Partick Thistle since he was in very short trousers could lay claim to being the Firhill team's most dedicated lover.

He would never entertain such a suggestion himself, however, in the certain knowledge that there is someone out there who has seen more of the Maryhill side than him. Whoever it is will have to be consumed by the same obsession that has devoured much of Reid's thinking processes for 50 years.

Having already given up a career in education, at which point he was assistant head teacher at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow, to become secretary of Thistle, Reid does not have to do a great deal more to convince sceptics that his devotion is complete.

It makes a great deal of sense, then, that this articulate and charismatic former teacher of modern languages should exorcise the inner demon by writing a book about his beloved club 25 years after its greatest triumph.

This he has done and it boasts the unsurprising title, Red and Yellow Forever.* It is a reminiscence, a record of one man's 50-year journey from Maryhill to Maryhill, via the South side of town.

Born in Maryhill, Reid was weaned on Thistle by his dad, to the extent that even when he moved to the other side of Glasgow at pre-school age, he was Jagged forever more.

In those days, there was Clyde, as well as Queen's Park and Third Lanark, as options for non-Old Firm devotees in the city, but they did not make any impact on the Reid psyche.

Even when this eager fan grew up, having played school football well enough to earn a trial for Glasgow Schools, to become a teacher, he did not leave the things of his childhood behind.

One of them, at least, remained his passion. The team that rarely wins anything, that has become the cuddly toy of football, that has more declared supporters than Manchester United and less than Dundee United on a Saturday, was, is - and will forever - be the subject of his devotion.

He does his best to rationalise this inexplicable and enduring fanaticism. ``I suppose being born in Maryhill was first and I feel a certain loyalty to them. I wish others, like Paisley people, for instance, would feel the same way about St Mirren. But there is also the great unpredictablity of Partick Thistle which attracts not only me but many others.

``It would be true to say as well that the attraction of being neither blue nor green, with all that this entails, is a major factor.''

He regrets the way the game and leagues have changed, at least in the sense that Thistle have to face up to intense pressure to be part of the premier division, a status they lost once again last season.

``In the days when there was a bigger league we could finish between eighth and twelfth. To be honest, I would have said ninth was about where we stood in the game and if we ended up there we were quite happy.

``Now, if we are ninth we are curtains. But I think also that people are more difficult to please now, even Thistle fans. People like to attach to success, maybe because of what they call nowadays the feelgood factor.''

Reid, while unquestionalby Thistle daft, has a passion for the game itself which is only marginally less demanding. He has seen 80 of the 92 English League clubs in action somewhere or other and is hell bent on completing the set before much longer. He has seen the Jags play on all 40 of the current Scottish League grounds and last season watched a startling 123 games of all descriptions. He is out to beat that record this season.

Talking about Thistle comes easier to this educated man than discussing the weather or the difference between German and French grammar.

He claims that Thistle win things every 50 years, having lifted the Scottish Cup in 1921 and the League Cup in 1971. On that basis 2021 ought to be party time in the old town.

He reckons that over the years Thistle have won about 50% of all games played. His delight at wins and depression at defeat have not changed a great deal, and he reckons his long-suffering wife, Joan, would vouch for each emotion. She, their two sons, and one daughter, have found themselves involved at some stage, in some way, with the club, selling programmes, etc.

His deepest depression came at Tannadice last season when Thistle lost in the play-off to stay in the top league.

Reid began teaching at Airdrie Academy, then King's Park, followed by Kingsridge, Drumchapel, where the team he superivised included Andy Gray, John McDonald, and Gregor Stevens, and finally Shawlands.

If it seems incongruous that an assistant head would abandon education for Firhill, it should be pointed out that financially there was little difference and, more important, Reid had become more than a mite disillusioned with the route education was taking.

``I was a traditionalist, I am afraid. I felt that discipline and standards were being allowed to deteriorate and, although I had really loved being teacher, I felt I was maybe not on the same wavelength any more.''

He also reckons that a challenge entirely different from what has gone before does not do anybody in any profession any harm. The fact that he was leaving to pursue the love of his life, outside his home, was a fair bonus.

He has been secretary for five years and, although now part-time, still puts in a great deal of his energy, which is considerable, into the job. The fact that he has been made an associate director fills him with immense pride. Having helped out the scouts at one time, then edited the programme, assisted with the lottery, the 800 club, he feels he did go through the Jags apprenticeship.

His finest day was not difficult to guess, when Thistle beat Celtic 4-1 in the League Cup final in 1971, but what gives him the biggest thrill is to see young lads come through the ranks into the first team.

``As Bertie Auld used to say, that lights my candle.'' Auld is one of a host of managers who have known the secretary through the years and he recalls many of them as genuine ``characters.''

His favourite players, understandably, date from his early years. Jacky Husband, Willie Sharp, Johnny Mackenzie, Jimmy Davidson but he makes room for Alan Rough, too. Among the managers, Davie McParland gets a special mention . . . ``he was very good to me,'' and Bertie, naturally, tops the list for memorable tales.

One such. ``Thistle were on a pre-season tour of the north of Scotland and Bertie was trying to instil some discipline. He put a curfew on all the players.

``At 2am, Don McKinnon was wakened by a pebble hitting his bedroom window and a voice whispering, ``Let me in.'' It was Bertie himself.

It is difficult to spend 20 minutes in the company of Robert Reid without emerging with at least the notion that red and yellow is maybe not a bad combination.

* Red and Yellow Forever, published on September 3 by GD Records.