For many years, almost from the early days until the mid-1960s, the first match of the season for Celtic players was the Public Trial match. This was designed to let the fans see how the regular players were looking after their summer break and also gave them a chance to look at any new boys that the club had brought on to the books.
If my experience was anything to go by, then it much easier being a younger player. I played in the Public Trial before the start of the 1961/62 season, in the centre-half berth, and was up against a guy called Steve Chalmers. I was trying my damndest; he was more interested in making sure he did not get injured. And all through the years, I suppose it was always thus, the new boy desperate to show what he could do and the older star merely going through the motions.
The photo below was taken just hours before the Public Trial of 1962 and you will recognise quite a few of the faces;
Back Row, left to right; Curley, Veitch, Symington, F Brogan, Jeffrey, Madden, Haffey, Fallon, J Rankin, Price, Jackson, P Rankin, McCarron
Centre row, left to right, John Higgins, Alec Boden, Hughes, Byrne, Chalmers, Young, Parks, Gemmell, Divers, O’Neill, Kennedy, Cushley, McNamee, Gowans, Lawson, Brasy, Asst. Trainer Jimmy Gribben
Front Row, left to right, Jimmy McGrory, Brown, Smith, Lennox, Murdoch, Gallagher, McNeill, Clark, Crerand, Rooney, McKay, Johnstone, Sean Fallon and trainer Bob Rooney