WHEN Christie Elliott was made captain of Partick Thistle, it was huge and unexpected honour for the 27-year-old. But the burden of wearing the armband soon began to weigh him down.

So much so, that as Firhill skipper, the affable Geordie found that he was no longer being himself either on the pitch or off it.

Then, in October, with both he and the team hopelessly out of form, floundering near the bottom of the Championship and reeling from the departure of manager Alan Archibald, something had to give.

READ MORE: The 30: Ross County changes help maintain lead at top of Championship

Following a heart-to-heart with his teammates, Elliott decided that as hard as it may be, he had to relinquish the captaincy for both his own good and the overall wellbeing of the team. It is a decision that while hugely difficult to make, has more than be vindicated by the recent upturn in both his own and Thistle’s wider fortunes.

“When I first became the captain, it was a difficult time for me,” Elliott admitted.

“The way I am in the dressing room, I’ve always been the type that likes a laugh and been a bit of a joker, but when I became the captain I sort of lost myself a little bit.

“I was a lot more serious and I was thinking about other people all of the time instead of thinking about myself.

“To get named captain was a massive privilege. I’ve always been a big team player, but sometimes in football you have to put yourself first and then you can help the team by being at your best.

“It got to the stage where I wanted to pass it on, and given the way the club was going at the time, I thought it was the right time to do it.

“It was a hard position to be in, because nothing was going right for the team, and when you get named captain you don’t want to give it up at a time when everything is going badly for the club.

“The gaffer, Archie, had given me the opportunity to be captain, but I was just trying to get my form back at that time and hopefully get a few wins before I decided what to do.

“Then everything happened so quickly with the gaffer leaving, and the opportunity was there with all the things that were changing to speak to the boys with the new manager coming in. We had a meeting and I told them how I was feeling, and I think they appreciated that I was being honest.

“I just wasn’t myself. It’s hard to talk to people about big things like that, and it is such a big opportunity that you don’t want people to think that you are just throwing it away.”

Elliott says that while the timing of being made captain wasn’t right for him, he wouldn’t rule out having another crack at it in the future.

For now though, he is relieved to be letting Stuart Bannigan get on with it, a player he feels is the perfect man to lead the Thistle squad.

“When I was named captain, it wasn’t something that I felt I could say no to,” he said. “I had no idea what that experience would be like or how it would make me feel.

“I’ve learned a lot from it. At this moment in time it’s just not for me, but I can’t think of anyone who is a better leader both on and off the pitch than Banzo."

Elliott was delighted to be part of another big result for Thistle with the win over Inverness at the weekend, with the Jags still unbeaten in 2019 and off the foot of the table.

A clip of a rather robust Elliott challenge on an opponent from Saturday’s match is doing the rounds on social media, and he believes that sort of commitment will be required from everyone at Thistle if they are to keep up their recent good form.

“I’ve watched the tackle back a few times, my little brother sent it to me,” he said.

“It was 100% or nothing, and thankfully it worked out as a good tackle and I got the ball and then the man.

“These are the sorts of things we have to do to win games. Little things like that can have a big effect.

“This is a really physical league. A lot comes down to who really wants it, and I know in the past we have been labelled as a soft touch.

“Well, not anymore. We still want to find a way to play nice football, but you also need to have that little dig about you as well so that teams don’t enjoy playing against you."