When Chris Erskine was working in the shipyards and turning out for junior side Kilbirnie Ladeside, he could never have imagined he would make his 200th appearance for a senior club at Celtic Park.

That’s just what happened though on Tuesday night as the attacking midfielder racked up his double-century of outings for Partick Thistle.

With the controversial pro-youth set-up currently the source of much debate, Erskine’s story of his path to professional football is proof that there is more than one way to the top of the game in Scotland.

And his message for young footballers who may be in a similar position to the one he found himself in just a few years ago is simple – never give up.

“I was a pipe fitter and a welder in the shipyards in Scotstoun and Govan,” Erskine said.

“I always wanted to be a full-time footballer but I never got the chance to go pro-youth. And when you get to that stage you wonder if your chance has gone.

“I hadn’t written off my chances. We had a good team at Kilbirnie and we won a couple of promotions and a big junior cup too. A couple of the boys moved on to Queen's Park.

“A guy called Gus Black used to scout for Thistle and he did a bit at Kilbirnie too. He got me a trial at Thistle and I came in for a week’s training and played three games and Ian McCall decided to sign me.

“I had a couple of things going on, I was in at Queen of the South for a trial and a couple of more clubs interested but Thistle was where I wanted to go.

“There’s always a chance. I’ve got a young brother who is 19 and playing with East Kilbride Thistle in the juniors. The message I tell him is ‘don’t give up’ just because you are 19 or 20 and you are not in the pro-youth system. It’s not the only way. There are good players in the juniors if people want to take a chance on them.”

Erskine wasn’t even aware that his substitute appearance against Celtic during midweek had been such a landmark, but he was unfortunate not to mark the occasion with a goal after missing a decent chance to pull Thistle level.

“I’d seen it in the programme recently it was getting to closer to 200,” he said. “I thought I maybe had another couple of games to go. I got told after the game.

“I was hoping I would be told when it was my 200th because it’s one of those things, you think you’ll score when you get to that.

“I was 22 till I signed here so at times I think you thought your time had passed and it wouldn’t happen. To get to the 200 mark here is brilliant.

“It’s nice to get landmark. It’s been a good few seasons I’ve played.”

Erksine returns to the scene of his first league goal for the Jags tonight as they take the road north to face Ross County at Dingwall.

He would happily settle for a similar goal to his first ever in Thistle colours though, which had more than a touch of fortune about it, to get his side off the bottom of the table.

“Definitely [I’d take that], it doesn’t matter how it goes in,” he said.

“My first goal was here in my first game against Berwick Rangers in the cup. I think I kicked it with my left foot onto my right foot and it looped over the goalie. On purpose obviously!

“The way things are going for us that’s what we need, something to hit off someone and go in. We’d take absolutely anything.”