The first two cinch Premiership confrontations between the pair now in the grip of an almighty struggle for championship supremacy were played out without any away fans. Rangers stated it wasn’t possible to accommodate visiting supporters for the late August meeting – red zones then in operation as part of Covid-19 restrictions – before Celtic responded in kind for February’s east end of Glasgow meeting.
This latter encounter witnessed one of the most charged atmospheres at the Parkhead arena in recent years. In turn, Ange Postecoglou’s men seemed positively inspired by their surrounds to rack up three first half goals in a comprehensive victory that has underpinned them establishing a three-point lead in the tightest title race in a decade. Relish over the ambience last month, and their contempt for the meager ration of 700 away tickets – a legacy of Rangers ending the policy of giving over one end to the visiting support on derby days almost four years ago – has led to a groundswell from the Celtic support for their club to reject the allocation. Without the pre-2018-19 figure of 7,000 away tickets, the widespread opinion among them is that there is precious little point having any visiting representation at the highest profile fixture in the Scottish football calendar.
That view would not appear to be shared by Anthony Ralston. The Celtic full-back is certainly no lover of the current 700 ticket arrangement to which it seems Rangers want to return. But the 23-year-old is of a mind that anything-is-better-than-nothing when it comes to Celtic having a band of their faithful at the Govan ground a week on Sunday. “I would like to see as many as possible,” he said. “The way it used to be was brilliant. If that is not going to be the case, we just have to take what we can get. It will be good to get any support we can.”
Ralston is confident Celtic’s squad will be at the strongest it has been at any point during Postecoglou’s first campaign for the league leaders jaunt across the city. Although he doesn’t reference the Japanse striker, that would be inarguable if it transpires top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi is available for the first time this year, following three months out with a hamstring issue. “I feel the squad is in a really good place providing everyone comes back healthy from the international break,” the full-back said as a caveat.
Ralston certainly will be refreshed after the hiatus from domestic football after failing to earn a place in Steve Clarke’s squad for the two friendlies they will take on in the next week. A surprise omission for many following his hugely productive exploits over the campaign that had brought him a career-best total of 40 club appearances, he is honest enough to confess he featured in that camp.
“I was a little bit,” he said. “I feel that I have done well through the course of the season. I would have liked to have been involved in the squad but it is not to be at the minute. My main aim is to do my bit for Celtic and hope, in time, I will get that international recognition. These things are out of my control. The only thing in my control is my performances and my hard work.”
Anthony Ralston was speaking ahead of Saturday’s women’s match against Hibernian. The match will take place at Celtic Park with a 3pm kick off and is included on the season book – Season book holders can still claim their free ticket from the Celtic Park Ticket Office. Group discounts also available. Tickets are also available to buy for non-season ticket holders. Fans should contact the Ticket office at Celtic Park.
Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman’s sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com – all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.