DERBY debutant Alistair Johnston revealed Cameron Carter-Vickers had a quiet word in his ear before the new Bhoy’s baptism of fire at Ibrox.
Ange Postecoglou pitched in the Canada World Cup right-back into the first game of 2023 only 24 hours after international clearance had come through.
Johnston agreed a £3.5million switch from MLS outfit CF Montreal a fortnight earlier, but the deal could not be rubber-stamped until the transfer window opened on January 1.
With Anthony Ralston still toiling with the knock he sustained in the 2-1 win over Livingston and Reo Hatate answering the SOS to take over the No.2 slot in the 4-1 victory over St Johnstone – where the versatile Japanese performer claimed a double – and the 4-0 success at Hibs, the Hoops gaffer gave the nod to 24-year-old recruit.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Alistair Johnston congratulates Kyogo Furuhashi after his equalising goal at Ibrox.
Josip Juranovic remained on the substitutes’ bench until, of course, he was introduced for hamstring victim Greg Taylor in the 21st minute of the 2-2 stalemate that saw the champions maintain their nine-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.
Reflecting on the memorable experience, Johnston said: “I learned a lot about Scottish football, just there alone, and I’m already looking forward to playing the next one.
“People said, especially at Ibrox, they are going to be against you, it’s going to be toxic, it’s going to be loud, and any little bit of hope that they can get behind, their crowd will. And they did.
“Everyone brought me aside. Cameron Carter-Vickers was saying it was going to be something you haven’t really experienced, it’s going to be a cauldron, especially if we make a couple of mistakes and let the momentum swing, even if it doesn’t feel like they are doing much it can get the crowd into it and all of a sudden the game can change.
POINT PROVED…Alistair Johnston gives his vews on his baptism of fire. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“Just be ready for that, understand that it doesn’t matter what you do they are going to be booing you the entire time and cussing you out. Just get ready for it. And at the end of the day just enjoy it, because you will.”
USA World Cup centre-back Carter-Vickers, now a veteran of six Glasgow derbies, certainly enjoyed his last experience in Govan when he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph in March last year.
Johnston, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I grew up in a UK household, so I knew quite a bit about this match going into it. I also showed my missus the one we won 3-0 at home last year.
“I showed her the light show, You’ll Never Walk Alone and all of that. She was sitting there going: ‘This is unbelievable!’ I kind of knew what I was getting myself into.
“It’s funny, my mum was saying she wished she could have been there. I was like: ‘You know what, I’m not sure you’d want to have been at that one! I’m not sure I would let you go to that one. Maybe the next one at home!’
“No, it was good fun.
GOVAN GLEE…Cameron Carter-Vickers turns away in delight after his winning goal at Ibrox in March last year. Carl Starfelt is about to join the celebrations.
“For me, it was just as perfect environment to get acclimatised and get into a match. I definitely enjoyed it a little bit more than most. I was buzzing, just to get out there. The atmosphere was as toxic as I wanted it to be.
“It probably goes back to my ice hockey upbringing. My hometown team was the Aurora Tigers. It’s quite rough, quite physical.
“We’re just raised on it from such a young age over there, full body contact. It’s funny, coaches over there will get mad at you if you don’t hit a guy.”
The Vancouver-born defender added: “There are still so many adjustments and tweaks I want to make, but for a first performance in a place like that, I’m not going to be too hard on myself.
“As a team, we were playing so well and kind of let it get away from ourselves and let them grow into the match. We know we can be better. Watching the game back there were lots of decisions where I thought: ‘Why did I do that?’
“So, there’s lots of room for growth, which I think is exciting. It was a good start and if every match is like that in terms of the atmosphere, it will be a pretty fun time here.”
Johnston hopes to continue smiling if he is given a starting berth when Kilmarnock are the visitors tomorrow afternoon as the quest for Premiership points goes on.