Partick Thistle’s unknown European adventure of 1995

Ben Gilmour

Often overshadowed by the noisy city neighbors of Rangers and Celtic, Partick Thistle have always had a quieter stint in Scottish football since their foundation in 1876. However, one of their most interesting stories come from a 1995 European adventure as they qualified for one of UEFAs strangest inventions, the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Partick Thistle found themselves facing 4 other teams from across the far reaching borders of Europe in what was to be their 3rd ever appearance in European competition following games in the UEFA Inter City Fairs Cup and UEFA Cup in 1963 and 1972 respectively. After an interesting draw, Partick had drew FC Metz, LASK Linz, NK Zagreb and Keflavik.

The biggest team in the group was undoubtedly Ligue 1 club FC Metz who had experience in the highest level of French football, while other clubs such as NK Zagreb and LASK Linz posed a threat to an inexperienced Partick Thistle.

After a tense wait for a tie against LASK Linz of Austria, Partick finally kicked off their European endeavor. They were 2-0 down within 6 minutes. However, goals from McDonald and McWilliams had seen Partick Thistle pick up a valuable point against a club in the higher levels of Austrian football. Elsewhere, despite picking up an early lead, Icelandic minnows Keflavik were beaten by Metz 2-1 infront of a small crowd of 500.

Next up was a home tie against Keflavik in a must win game if they were to try and qualify from the Group Stages and have a chance of entering the Europa League (UEFA Cup at the time). Partick put in a professional performance and despite conceding an early goal went on to win the game 3-1 courtesy of goals from Albert Craig and Tom Smith. Partick had already picked up a win and a draw which put them in a good position for a massive match.

A week passed and Partick were on the road again as they faced a difficult challenge as they traveled to France to play Metz away in a crucial group deciding match. Despite remaining in the game for a long period of play, Metz scored and took all 3 points. This was a huge body blow as it knocked Partick Thistle out of the cup despite picking up points in their first two games.

All that remained was a consolation match against NK Zagreb of Croatia where Thistle lost 2-1. This home loss remains to be the last game Partick Thistle have played in European football to this day and Partick Thistle finished 4th out of 5 in their Intertoto group.

This shouldn’t be underestimated however. To play in European football you must show a level of class which qualifies you to play at such a level, which is an achievement in itself. Partick find themselves as only 1 of 4 Scottish teams to ever play in a European Group Stages.

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