Stuart Bannigan has been around the block. The midfielder has seen and done it all at Partick Thistle since making his senior debut in September 2010 and, barring a brief loan stint at Ayr United at the start of his career, has only ever adorned the red-and-yellow of the Jags.

Bannigan was there as Thistle sealed their return to the Premiership in 2013. He suffered a potentially career-ending injury that kept him on the sidelines for two years, and he was there to experience the pain of relegation when the Maryhill club returned to the second tier. He was there as the pandemic struck and the Jags found themselves controversially demoted to League One in 2020, and he played a crucial role as Thistle returned to the Championship at the first time of asking the following year.

There has rarely been a dull moment during the long-serving midfielder’s time at the club and Bannigan hopes to add a few more achievements to his CV before he decides to hang up his boots. That day remains firmly in the distance for the 31-year-old, who celebrates his testimonial at Firhill this summer, after he racked up his 350th appearance for Thistle in last weekend’s goalless draw at Cappielow.

“I didn’t think I would even get 10, never mind 350, when I was a young boy,” Bannigan says. “It’s a pretty good achievement but I’m hoping for plenty more.

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“I’ve been there through all the ups and downs. There have been amazing highs and some pretty low lows, especially with being out [injured] for a couple of years. It has been my whole life ever since I left school so it’s all I have ever known.

“I have met the best people in my life through the club so it has been everything for me. I give my all on the park to help us get back to where we want to get to and hopefully fans see that. I always give 100 per cent effort, whether I’m hopeless in the game or whether I’m not bad.

“Everybody wants to play in the top league, that’s obviously a given, but you need to earn it in this league. It’s probably one of the toughest leagues to get out of – and that’s the same this year again, it’s so tight. It’s incredible really.

“I would love to get Thistle back up there, it would be amazing. It’s got the support for it and the fans are there ready to back you. It’s got everything in place but ultimately it’s down to the players in the park to get the results that will get us back up there. We are not far away at the minute but it is going to take an almighty push in our final eight games to get us there.”

Last week’s draw at Morton was a significant milestone in Bannigan’s Thistle career and the stalwart ensured he marked the occasion in fitting fashion as he picked up his 76th yellow card for the Jags.

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The tough-tackling midfielder’s disciplinary record is often a subject of amusement for supporters but he insists he is a new man. Fans, he says, will have to get used to a well-behaved Stuart Bannigan.

“I couldn’t believe that! I was trying not to get booked,” he said. “I think it’s the first time I’ve been booked this calendar year. I’ve maybe changed my ways a wee bit but I was back to my old self on Saturday unfortunately.

“Absolutely, [I’m getting more disciplined the older get]. I’ve done some stupid things in my time, don’t get me wrong, and it was a part of my game I wasn’t happy with. But I have not had many reds in the last few years, I’ve calmed that down a bit.

“The yellows are probably still there a wee bit but I try and tone that down as well because being suspended doesn’t help anyone. You can have a wee laugh about it but it is not good when you’re missing games, so I’ll try to calm that down a wee bit.

“From now on, aye [I’ll be well-behaved]. Like I said, I’ve only been booked once this calendar year and that was last week – and that was probably just for old times’ sake for a wee laugh – so I’m trying to keep that away from my game now. We will wait and see if I can do that.”

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Minutes on the park are not Bannigan’s only motivation for cleaning up his act, though.

“Wee Stevie Lawless is always saying to me that I’m the most booked player in Partick Thistle’s history and he is always giving me a bit of a slagging for that,” Bannigan added. “So I’m trying not to give him any ammunition so he can keep slagging me, so that’s part of the reason.”