Despite my initial reluctance, on 1st Jan 1999 I was appointed the new manager of Partick Thistle, the football club regarded by some as the thinking man's alternative to Celtic and Rangers.
If you want to know the events which led up to this decision, please read the final chapters of Part 2 of my story, which is called Faltering Steps.
And I must say, the Board - and particularly chairman Brown McMaster - were very honest with me.
What made me change my mind was the challenge the club was facing and the incredible Save the Jags campaign and when I asked about the squad and who should be part of the first team and who sold be sold, I was assured that I would receive carte blanche in the matter, also when it came to finding assistants, like the Mad Scientist!
I had read up on the club's history, of course. In Rotterdam we knew of Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. Especially Celtic. Back in 1970 Feyenoord had beaten them in the European Cup Final. But nobody in Rotterdam had ever heard of Partick Thistle - or Partick Sizzle, as they called the club after they found out where I was going.
So I did some research and I discovered that in 1971 the club had achieved their most famous result against Jock Stein's Celtic in the League Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow, with their shock 4–1 victory. Apparently, before the match, former BBC sport broadcaster Sam Leitch had stated that "In Scotland, it's League Cup final day at Hampden Park, where Celtic meet Partick Thistle, who have no chance!"
Thistle's fortunes on the pitch declined during the 1980s. Their 1982 relegation led to the club's first sustained period outside the top tier since the late 19th century. Although this period of exile ended with promotion in 1992, mounting financial problems threatened to put the club out of existence and in 1998 the club was close to going bankrupt and was only kept afloat by the fan-organised "Save the Jags" campaign.
As Partick Thistle chairman Brown McMaster said: "We now have a platform to try and take the club forward and we're looking forward to the future. The club has now joined the pack and is on the same footing as the rest of the first division where money is tight. But the important thing is that we must, absolutely must, have 3,000 people at our home games. If that doesn't happen then we'll have problems again. We still have a debt of 1.7m which has to be serviced, so the Save the Jags campaign might have to keep going for a wee while longer to service the interest on that."
The good news was that since that meeting of early 1998 the debt was already slowly getting paid off...
So why did they appoint me as manager? Once again I found out that my reputation had traveled ahead of me. At Gillingham, back in 1993, I had been associated with Feyenoord. This time it was my stint with Gillingham which had given me a reputation for being a successful young manager. And being Dutch, like Dick Advocaat, also helped...
So yes, there was the debt. But we had a fine squad and a number of outstanding players, including 16-year-old Liam McVey and 18-year-old Martin Launchlan, both of them wingers!
The Board expected more of us than merely battle against relegation. They expected us to attain a respectable league position. And our first challenge was an away game against Ayr United on the 4th January 1999 ...