Anthony Ralston will no doubt share a friendly word or two with his old pal Jamie McCart this afternoon. The St Johnstone star is a former Celtic Academy teammate of the Celtic right back and used to share a morning car-run with Ralston and still remembers that his pal never even chipped in for petrol money!
Jamie McCart has been speaking to The Courier ahead of the clash between the two most successful clubs in Scottish football over the past decade this afternoon at Celtic Park about Anthony Ralston’s transformation from a player seemingly surplus to requirements under Neil Lennon to a regular first team starter under Ange Postecoglou.
And yesterday we told you that there is now talk of a new deal for Ralston, who is actually in his last year of his current Celtic contract. Ralston is set to sign a new deal – you can’t imagine that he’ll be difficult to deal with as far as the club are concerned and he has also turned his attention to breaking into Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad in the not too distant future.
And another aspect of the Ralston transformation this season – under the new manager – is the change in attitude towards him from the Celtic support. Many simply did not rate the right back as good enough and pointed to inconsistent loan spells at clubs like St Johnstone as proof that he was well short of Celtic standards. It would have been easy for Ralston to stop believing in himself, especially with Lennon making the calls and it has to be noted that John Kennedy failed to give him any game time in his time as interim manager.
Postecoglou arrived at the club with just one right back at the club, Tony Ralston so he gave him his chance and the player has never given the manager cause to regret that decision. Last December we published an article on The Celtic Star arguing that Ralston should be played to bring a more solid defensive shape to our defence, the right back position was the cause of so much grief last season and arguably was one of the main reasons why Shane Duffy was left so exposed. The response to that was overwhelming with one correspondent saying that we needed our heads examined!
Sometimes when you are in a minority of one and you’re proved right then it’s worth mentioning but for Anthony Ralston – and he knows he is no Danny McGrain – he is content to do his talking on the park.
Tony and I would car share into Celtic training all the time,” said McCart. “He was out of the team for a while and he had a tough time of it. But I’m delighted to see him back in and doing so well.
“He’s a really nice guy and a good professional and it’s good to see him doing so well. I didn’t play for Celtic but the most important thing is resilience because you’ve got a massive fan base and a lot of eyes on you.
“It’s really good for him, sometimes you just need that opportunity and he got it when the new manager came in.”
McCart, 24, also joked about chauffeuring a youthful Ralston to training at Lennoxtown. “Tony hadn’t passed his driving test so I was driving him. He’d be annoyed because I’d pick him up early to do the gym!
“He lives close to me so him paying fuel wasn’t an issue. Tony was unpredictable with his timing but we were never that late.”