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McCall back with Partick Thistle after emotional decision to leave Ayr

An emotional Ian McCall outlined his pride at returning to his dream job at Partick Thistle more than eight years after leaving with his life “spiralling downhill”.

McCall spent almost four years as Thistle manager first time round, later admitting he had departed to deal with a serious gambling addiction.

The 54-year-old subsequently spent almost four years out of football management before rejuvenating his career and the fortunes of Ayr United after being handed an unexpected chance by Somerset Park chairman Lachlan Cameron.

The decision to leave Ayr proved even tougher after a 4-1 win at Alloa on Saturday kept them level on points with Ladbrokes Championship leaders Dundee United, while Thistle slumped to the bottom with a 3-0 home defeat by Dunfermline.

But McCall, who will be assisted by both Alan Archibald and Neil Scally, could not turn down the chance to return to the club he loves.

He said: “There’s not many people apart from my mother and my son maybe who are proud of me, but I am proud of what I have done, because it was hard, hard times for me.

“I owe (chairman) David Beattie, and (former director) Billy Allan to a certain extent, for how they handled my departure, because my life was spiralling downhill.

“But hopefully it’s an example to everybody that second chances do work.

“So I’m very, very proud to stand here as Partick Thistle manager after what I went through in my life. It’s been tough but I’m really proud and honoured to be back.

“And I say that on a hugely emotional day having seen everyone at Ayr this morning. There were a lot of tears, and it wasn’t easy.”

McCall, who led Ayr to the League One title and the Premiership play-offs in his final two seasons, added: “It’s been an incredibly emotional day, in a good way and a bad day.

“I’ve known since Wednesday or Thursday and I had a long conversation with Lachlan, who has been a very important figure in my life. I had a job for life at Ayr, although I have heard chairmen say ‘I’m never going to sack you before’ and then they do.

“He said: ‘Listen, if you had only been here two years then I would definitely not allow you to speak to anybody’. But he does know that I’ve turned a few down. He said: ‘It’s up to you’.

“My mind was nearly made up but it became harder on Saturday because of how my young players at Ayr played, pretty unbelievably.

“But the first person to know was Lachlan on Sunday and it has been handled very professionally since then. So I’m back and it’s good.”

Archibald is also back, less than 12 months after being sacked as manager.

McCall said: “It’s  been an incredibly hard couple of years for Thistle fans. Not just on the pitch, we lost our greatest ever manager, Mr (Davie) McParland, and we lost Johnny Lambie. Alan went through a hard, hard time in his last year, and he’s a legend.

“The performances haven’t been great and there has been a disconnect. That stops now, there won’t be a disconnect.

“It doesn’t guarantee we are going to win football matches but in time we hope to do that and in time I hope to bring a brand of football that I like to play on to the pitch.

“This is my team and I just thought the red and yellow has been missing from this football club, the heart has been missing, and it needs to be put back.”