The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions for Kris Doolan. The Partick Thistle manager has guided his team to four successive play-off victories ahead of tonight’s first leg of the final against Ross County, banging in 16 goals along the way, and raising the excitement levels around Maryhill to the highest they’ve been since the championship-winning season in 2013.

Off the park, though, the Thistle legend’s personal life has suffered tragedy. In between the home and away legs of the quarter-final, Doolan’s father, Lawrence, passed away after a prolonged battle with illness. Barely 24 hours later, there was Doolan on the sidelines at Ochilview, watching his team rack up a convincing 4-0 victory to advance to the semis.

Something like football can seem so trivial to so many in the wake of their father’s passing, but Doolan and his dad were bonded by their love of the beautiful game. Up until the very end, Doolan Sr – who also played for Auchinleck Talbot, one of Doolan’s former clubs – remained his son’s most passionate supporter.

When a fresh-faced Doolan was taking his first tentative steps into the men’s game, it was his dad who was condemning and condoning in equal measure on the touchline, offering the precocious striker pointers on how to make the most of his talents.

There is one particular lesson that has stuck with Doolan throughout his entire career, and it is one that his Jags side appear to have taken to heart too. As a player, Doolan was never the strongest or the fastest player on the park. He had to rely on his intelligence, probe for openings in an opponent’s defence and know when to choose his battles – all traits shared by the current crop at Firhill.

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“He gave me advice when I was playing,” Doolan recalled. “I was only 15. I went to play junior football and left Kilmarnock, I signed for Kello Rovers, just a small village, and we played Craigmark in the cup.

“I wasn’t supposed to be playing because I was only 15! He named the team and I was starting and I thought, ‘jeez, how am I going to play?’. Anyways I was playing up front, went for a challenge with a guy in his 30s and he has just ducked.

“I fell over the top of him, landed on my back and he just lifted his foot as I was facing up and he’s stamped down on my face. I turned my head at the last second, he could have taken my eye out. He dragged his studs off my face – it was like a welcome to junior football. I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.

“So he ripped my eye open and I remember sitting up – play on, everybody played on – and my face was gushing and I looked at my dad. My dad had played for Talbot, the same way I did, and he was just leaning against the barrier, not even flustered one bit.

“I said to him, ‘what’s that’? and he said, ‘well, fix it, don’t be there’. I was saying, ‘what are you talking about?’. He said, ‘well, why would you go and get physical with him, he’s too big. Don’t be there when the tackles come in, don’t be there, get it and move it quicker, don’t attract they big boys.

“So I thought, ‘right if I get it, control, good control, pass it quickly, he can’t get to me because he’s bigger, and then if I get it again and I do it again before the next one gets to me…’

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“He said, ‘take physicality out of it, otherwise that’s what happens to you’. And my face was gushing. I thought, ‘right, okay, I get it. I move the ball quicker and I don’t go and get physical with guys I can’t win’.

“That was only 15 and it was the strangest bit of advice I had, it was probably the most weird, but when I thought about it and I actually started to develop it, when I came into professional football, it makes so much sense.”

Doolan’s father might have been fairly nonplussed about the prospect of his son getting to grips with the rough-and-tumble reality of Junior football but his mother wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect. Looking back on it now, though, the Thistle manager pinpoints it as a turning point in his career – both on and off the park.

“She was like, ‘aw, my wain’ – because my eye was hanging out,” Doolan laughed, recalling his mother’s reaction. “My mum doesn’t come to the football, she’s too nervous to watch the football.

“It was the best bit of advice for me as a player because then I started to hone my skills in terms of thinking I can’t be physical at Junior football. It’s rash, there are bad tackles going in, your touch gets better because I got it quicker, I moved it quicker, took less touches of the ball.

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“I got in the box, I finished first-time, I finished two-touch, developed all those skills and looking back I think that would have been one of the turning points for me because you start to learn you can’t be physical.

“I teach other strikers, only pick battles you can win in terms of go and be physical, but take physicality out of it. And that’s what we do as a team.

“We take the ball, we look after it, we take possession of the ball and we take physicality away from the other team because if that is all you’ve got, then we’ve got more. We have got physicality as well, we can mix it up if we need to but ultimately if we have got the ball and we move the ball quick enough, then it takes physicality out of it.”