My reaction to hearing that Steve Clarke had finally called Anthony Ralston up to the Scotland squad would have been the same as any other Celtic supporter who has watched Ralston this season, a clench of the fist and a grin on my face was met with a real feeling of happiness for the lad, and a sense of pride that one of our own who has come up through the ranks at Celtic, has made it to international level to represent their country.
The Celtic supporters have all taken Anthony to our hearts this season, a player who did not look like being good enough to make the grade at Celtic, barely featuring for the first team and then being loaned out to smaller clubs around the country and seemingly not making the grade there either, to come back from that this season, get a chance under the new manager and grab it with both hands, has been a remarkable turnaround from the bhoy from Bellshill.
Sheer dogged determination, grit, hard work and desire to succeed has taken Ralston to where he is today. From looking like he was on his way out the door at Celtic with the hope he could at least stay in the Scottish top flight, to being Celtic’s number one right back, keeping his place in that position ahead of a fully fledged starting Croatia right back in Josip Juranovic, and now being called up for a crucial Scotland tie, it really is the type of story that would not be out of place in a Hollywood movie.
The Scotland call up has been late coming for Celtic supporters and even pundits in the Scottish media who from what I’ve heard have also been campaigning for his place in the national team. Ralston has been the most in form Scottish right back this whole season, and quite frankly it would have been criminal of Steve Clarke to leave him out of the fold any longer.
In saying that, this call up is slightly bitter sweet, considering Ralston was only given a chance due to Nathan Paterson being suspended. I do admit Steve Clarke has been in a difficult position as he can’t really justify bringing 3 right backs into the squad, and both Patterson and Stephen O’Donnell have shown their quality in most of the games they have played for Scotland, with Patterson scoring the opener and then setting up the second in Scotland’s 2-0 win over Moldova on Friday night. But with Patterson more often than not being on the bench for Rangers, it has left a bitter taste in the mouth of Celtic supporters, seeing our new fan favourite constantly being overlooked for another lad who can’t get a game for his club.
Hopefully all that will be changing soon and Ralston grabs his Scotland chance with both hands like he did when Ange offered him the same at Celtic, if he shows with the national team in training and in games the same worth ethic and quality that he has shown for Celtic all this season so far, both domestically and in Europe, I’m sure Steve Clarke will realise that he has no option but to include Tony in the squads going forward.