Partick v Morton

FATHER knows best. He's the head man. The saying comes to mind, ''Don't do what I do, do what I say.''

And when father and son suddenly come under the same umbrella at work - dad is Allan McGraw, manager of Greenock Morton, and son Mark is the player - striker Mark has to follow instructions on the field.

And there's the gamble - dad who brought his boy through the efficient Morton youth scheme, was very hard on him when Mark made it, and last Wednesday signed him from Falkirk to give the lad his second spell at Greenock.

When you see them off the field of play they are like chalk and cheese - Alan, although quietly spoken, quite hard in his attitude, Mark, quietly spoken.

But with experience gained on both sides of the bench, there comes a frankness with a bit of humour when the pressure of a game is not there.

McGraw, senior, admits he was hard on his lad first time round. McGraw, junior, admits he was inclined to be ''a bit lazy on the field.''

Manager McGraw says of Mark's first spell at Greenock: ''I was a bit harder on him than anyone else. In fact, I blamed him for everything. If we lost a goal, and Mark made a bad pass five minutes later, I blamed him.''

Mark's response: ''I never really noticed when I was in the first team, but I did notice it when I was in the reserves. I did think then that trying to get into the first team was harder, but when I was in the reserves dad played me quite a lot at centre half. I prefer playing up front.''

Back to the gaffer: ''I was wrong to play him in defence. Sometimes when I was short of a centre half, full back, in fact any position, I just put Mark there because he was my son. That wasn't right. Now I will be playing him up front.''

This was becoming a little serious. But when asked if Mark would be in against Partick Thistle after having started on the bench against Airdrie, he said: ''I'll put him up in the stand, either that, at the next home game, I'll find him a spot to sell programmes.''

Allan McGraw still holds the record of 58 league and Scottish Cup goals in one season, but said wryly: ''Mark will be lucky if he scores that number in his career.'' Which begged the question - ''Surely you can give him a few hints.''

Answer: ''You cannot teach strikers to score. They live by their instincts. Mark has more skill than I ever had, but I was more reckless in the box. I don't think Mark is like that. I would do anything to get to the ball to put it into the net.''

And he added, after agreeing tactics were a bit different these days: ''I used to be annoyed with people who said I was just a poacher. It was a wrong image. I worked my socks off, even getting back to help in defence.'' The legacy of McGraw's knee problems may be testament to that.

But then number one son, who moved to Hibs and stayed there for five and a half years before going to Falkirk had his say. ''I certainly plan to get goals, but I'll never reach dad's target. I don't think I'm an out-and-out scorer. I tend to play more round about the box.'' And he praised the coaching he received under Alex Miller at Easter Road.

''When I was here at first, I was a young lad and you expect to run about and things to happen for you. Now I know I can take up better positions and be more effective.''

But it still comes down to how the relationship between father and son will work the second time around. McGraw Sr reckons it will definitely help that Mark is now married and living in Edinburgh.

''It was probably my fault, when Mark was at home on a Saturday after the game,'' said Allan. ''We would be watching television, not necessarily football, and I would suddenly say 'see that time you had the ball' . . . even my wife Jean would say 'you never get away from it, do you?' When the other players get away on a Saturday, that's it. But when we were in the house, I used to get on at him.''

Mark's smile told its own story, and he added: ''I don't answer the phone now on a Saturday night in case it's him.''

McGraw the elder even admitted the likes of coach John McMaster used to try to stop him being too hard on his laddie. ''If the team were going through a bad spell, and a substitution was necessary, I automatically ordered Mark to be brought off, despite John saying he was not doing too badly.''

So what will be different this time round? Can he watch Mark in a an objective way?

''I'm hoping. I would be an idiot if I said yes. It is difficult for me because I probably know the best parts of his game, and if I don't see that from him on the field, I get angry. It's not the first time folk have come up to me after a game to tell me I was out of order for taking Mark off.''

Mark admits that he has been working more on the physical side of his game, and trying to sort out other problems on the field, so time will tell whether father and son can be in harmony either side of the touchline.

One funny incident recalled by father had them both smiling. At a charity match in Annan, McGraw Sr's bad leg locked up and he fell into the team hamper. As Mark moved to help him out a voice, which Allan McGraw swears was that of Dougie Robertson, said: ''Just shut the lid.''

Morton, meanwhile, will give fitness tests to Mark McGraw and fellow-striker Warren Hawke for today's visit to Firhill, although there is a boost in that defender Brian Reid is available again.

Partick Thistle, on the other hand, have been struggling at Firhill - no league wins so far, and only one goal to their credit. But manager John McVeigh is gradually pulling his squad round, although he has Peter Hetherston struggling with an ankle injury, and recent signing Alan Morgan also doubtful. Alex Martin and Jamie McKenzie are added to the squad.

Bookies' view: Partick Thistle 5-4, Morton 11-8, draw 5-2.