WHEN Ian McCall left Partick Thistle back in 2011, it was one of the lowest points of his life, as he grappled with a gambling addiction that had cost him more than simply money, but the job as manager of the club he loves. Understandably then, as he returned to resume those duties in the Firhill boardroom yesterday, there was more than a hint of a lump in his throat.

McCall, although he didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, was helped greatly in those dark days by current Thistle chairman David Beattie. And now, in Thistle’s time of dire need, he feels he can go some way to repaying that debt by returning the favour.

“At the time, and the chairman knows this, I felt I should’ve been helped a bit more,” McCall said. “But over my recovery period I recognise what they did for me was just unbelievable. I could’ve been totally ostracised, and I wasn’t. They kept a lot of things in-house.

“I had one problem, one issue which was bad and very, very serious. It makes me proud – and there aren’t many people proud of me, maybe my son and my mum – that I’m sitting here as manager of Partick Thistle after coming through that in my life.”

The son he mentions, 16-year-old Edson, is a Thistle season ticket holder, and there is little doubt that he was tugging on McCall’s heartstrings as he weighed up the decision to leave Ayr United to start anew at Firhill.

Unfortunately, that meant hurting someone else that he cares deeply for, the chairman he left behind at Somerset Park.

“Lachlan Cameron is a very important figure in my life,” he said. “Without him, I don’t know if I would’ve got back into football. He’s just the top man. I spoke to him the week before it.

“I feel emotional. I, probably wrongly, feel I’ve let Lachlan down, although he says he did not feel like that. Then I’ve come back here and seen all the red and yellow. As a human being of course it’s emotional.

“I’m delighted to be back but it was not an easy decision. I would not have come back the last time. I would not have taken Archie’s job. I just would not have done it. I’ve had quite a few chances to leave - but it’s Thistle.

“There will be some (Ayr) supporters that do question my loyalty but I hope the vast majority will appreciate how I’ve left the club. It doesn’t make it easier, though.

“Football is a very emotive sport and I think Thistle have lacked that emotion in the last couple of years. It should mean a lot to play for Thistle. It should be a huge honour. This is an incredibly special football club.”

One man who McCall took in at Ayr following his own departure from Thistle was legendary striker Kris Doolan, and he hopes they may reunite one day again at Firhill.

“I could see how much it hurt Kris Doolan leaving Thistle and I saw how much it meant to Chris Erskine too,” he said. “If it was my decision I wouldn’t have let Kris Doolan go. That’s not to slag off Gary (Caldwell) because each manager has to make his own judgements. But maybe it could have been handled better.

“He’s got a genuine love of Partick Thistle and you never know, Kris Doolan could be back here in the future because he’s got a lot to offer. He’s got Thistle in his identity.

“I think it’s quite pertinent because we lost Mr McParland, the club’s greatest ever manager, and then we lost The Great Lambino, who is in the top three. Alan Archibald went through hell in his last year then Dools left. It must have been a nightmare being a Jags fan in the last couple of years. That’s got to change.

“We need to get the red and yellow back into this club and I’m sure we will do that.”