Partick Thistle: Dave MacKinnon hugely impressed by top-six Jags

Former Partick Thistle player Dave MacKinnon says Alan Archibald's current squad have "eclipsed" his side's achievement of finishing sixth in 1981.

Thistle's 1-0 win over Motherwell secured their first top-six finish since the league split was introduced, and their highest top-flight finish since '81.

"Alan has to rebuild his side almost every summer," MacKinnon said.

"In those circumstances, it has eclipsed what Thistle did previously."

MacKinnon has been hugely impressed by the exploits of Archibald's side, who have won 10 and drawn 11 of their 32 Premiership matches so far this season.

The 60-year-old, who was at Thistle from 1978-1982 and shared a dressing room with players such as Brian Whittaker, Jamie Doyle, Tony Higgins and Donald Park, says the changes football has seen since the early 1980s make the Jags' achievement this season all the more significant.

Dave MacKinnnon in action against Rangers in 1981
Dave MacKinnon (right) left Partick Thistle in 1982 to join Rangers

"I remember that season well because I came back from having a kidney removed in October 1980 and played my first game back in January '81," MacKinnon told BBC Scotland.

"Partick Thistle had a great team then, even though we were part-time. That team was comparable with any team in the league at the time.

"Some players had been there for years and it was a well-established side. It was the same team virtually every week because of the contract situation then - players were on long deals and would only leave a club if their contract wasn't renewed or they were transferred.

"Alan Archibald won't have too many players on long-term deals these days so what he has done is a tremendous achievement. Every season they have to rebuild and I think when Thistle were struggling at the start of this season it was because so many new players had to adjust to Scottish football.

'Keep the squad together'

"Once Alan got the players into his way of thinking they have done so well. If I was involved with the club now I would be trying to keep the squad together for next season as they will hit the ground running and that could be the key."

Archibald, 39, has been in charge of Thistle since January 2013 and after guiding them to the then-First Division title that season, he has kept them in the top flight ever since.

His stock will have risen further this term but MacKinnon is convinced the man who spent a total of 12 years at Firhill as a player will be in no rush to leave.

Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald
Alan Archibald took over at Partick Thistle following the departure of Jackie McNamara

"Alan Archibald is a very smart, astute guy," MacKinnon said. "He's in a good place, at a well run club, and that can be more important than short-term thinking, so I don't think he will jump ship.

"I'm sure at some point he will leave but that will be when he feels he can't take the club forward. At the moment I think he will be looking to make sure next season is better than this one."

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