TO Firhill to celebrate Partick Thistle's return, after a decade down

below, to the premier division. Or is it the Super League? At #10 a

skull for an unreserved seat, one could easily think so.

For #10, the Sporting Diary expects Michael Jackson and not the

Texstyle World Pipe Band at half-time.

We have to report that it is harder than ever to concentrate on what

is happening on the pitch at Firhill.

As Thistle struggled to entertain against Airdrie Onion's offside

tactics, the Diary's thoughts strayed constantly to sex. It's not just

that Firhill boasts some extremely comely lady stewards, not to mention

some classy lady fans.

On the back of each seat in the stand (but not, for some reason, in

the directors' box) Thistle have affixed an AIDS prevention sticker.

''Play safe,'' it says, ''always use a condom.''

Thistle manager John Lambie has taken the message to heart. He is

playing safe with five men at the back, including new signings Martin

Clark (son of Lisbon Lion John) and Gordon Chisholm.

We are pleased to note that the heckling of opposition by Thistle fans

remains on an intellectual level.

A Firhill season ticket-holder, seated only feet away from Airdrie

Onion's manager, Alex MacDonald, expressed his disgust at the

aforementioned offside tactics with the words: ''That's execrable, Mr


There were also political overtones. Firhill fans obviously have long

memories. When Airdrie goalie John Martin touched the ball, there were

cries of ''Scab! Scab!''

Mr Martin is a coal-miner as well as a custodian of the onion-bag and

this was apparently a reference to his stance during the miners' strike.

Eight years ago.

With such a lacklustre display of football on offer in the first-half,

the Sporting Diary was grateful for any entertainment. Like the sight of

Mr Ian McCarry, a lawyer of this parish and a Thistle sponsor, turning

up with his charming advocate wife, Frances McMenamin, to find his

allocated seat already occupied.

''This is reminiscent of the Frank Sinatra concert at Ibrox,''

observed Mr McCarry as a succession of the aforementioned comely

stewards and polis personnel tried to persuade the squatters to move.

This was no easy task since they appeared to include an elderly man of

the cloth, and another chap wearing a magnificent chunky Jags sweater

and knitted cap of a vintage which attested to many faithful years of

suffering for the Thistle cause.

The man in the sweater finally conceded and left the seat, which he

obviously considered to be his Firhill birthright. Judging by the

defiant gleam in his eye, this dispute could well go the Court of

Session, or even the European Court of Justice. At least it could get

Partick Thistle into Europe.

* THE customs, and more, of your average golf club committee never

cease to amaze the Sporting Diary, so they dae. The committee at

Routenburn, Largs, were recently involved in a debate concerning the

board which carried the club's various rolls of honour.

A former lady captain, one Dorothy West, wished to change the details

relating to her tenure. Ms West earlier this year married her boss, Sir

A Ross Belch, the kenspeckle shipbuilder.

She requested that her name be changed on the board from Dorothy West

to Lady Belch. After due consideration, the application was denied. She

was plain Dorothy West when she was captain, and for posterity, plain

Dot she will remain.

* IT sure is going to be a long hard year in football. No, we're not

talking here about the 44-game premier division. We're talking about the

fund-raising for the Lisbon Lions Trust, scheduled to go on until May


Not for Mr Peter Rafferty and his fellow trustees a quick testimonial

match and dinner to mark the achievement of the European Cup-winning

Celtic team of 1967.

Still to come is a pro-am golf tournament at West Kilbride, followed

by a dinner at Seamill Hydro, the watering hole beloved of the Celtic.

There will be a second golf tournament at Rosemount, Blairgowrie. There

will be two boxing nights in October and November.

And, since the past is a happier country for Celtic fans these days,

there will be a trip back to the 1960s with a Lisbon Lions concert in

Glasgow starring Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers.

The Diary were unable to find out from the trust how much already has

been raised by dinners in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Ireland, and by

a night at Victoria's nightclub in Glasgow.

Indeed, Mr Rafferty appeared to consider our interest in the workings

of the trust to be unseemly.

This stems from a recent article in which we reported that the strict

rules governing the Lisbon Lions trust meant that the players could only

benefit if they were ''in need.''

Mr Rafferty said that the terms of the trust were subject to

interpretation by the trustees and this process would take place at the

end of the year of fund-raising. ''The people that are involved are of

the highest ilk,'' Mr Rafferty assured us.

* WE return to the subject of sweirarse, the ancient Scottish one-man

tug 'o war game. Or, at least, Mr Andrew Galston, of Giffnock, does in a

letter to the Sporting Diary: ''I was thrilled to read your account of

sweirarse competitions on Loch Lomondside. I am in my eightieth year and

have not encountered the word for about 50 years.

''In my teens and early 20s, I took part in sweirarse competitions

almost daily at the Ha' Farm, New Cumnock. I have mentioned it

occasionally since, but no-one knew of it. If I can find another daft

80-year-old, I'll have another go at it. Thanks for the memory.''

Sounds like a challenge for Jack McLean. Our money's on Mr Galston.