From Penicuik to Parkhead: Hamilton in line to face Celtic

Penicuik v Easthouses Lily  Jack Hamilton on the ball
Penicuik v Easthouses Lily Jack Hamilton on the ball

Jack Hamilton admits he can scarcely believe he could start against Celtic only a year after he made his debut for Penicuik Athletic.

The Livingston striker is in line to face Brendan Rodgers’ double treble-winning side on Saturday as they unfurl the flag before their Scottish Premiership opener against the newly promoted Lions.

It will be an altogether different occasion to his Cuikie debut 12 months ago in the juniors when he played in front of a couple of hundred fans, as Hamilton and his Livi team-mates will be greeted with a cauldron of noise in a 60,000 sell out.

After successful loan spells with Penicuik and Berwick Rangers last season, the 18-year-old grabbed his first goal for the club against Berwick in the Betfred Cup last Saturday.

Hamilton concedes he couldn’t have envisaged being in this position last year, but he is looking forward to testing himself against the best Scottish football has to offer.

He said: “It’s a dream, I’m just excited to see what happens to be honest.

“I didn’t think I’d be going to Celtic Park a year ago but you just have to take it as it comes. Everything is an experience for me which I’m delighted with.

“There’s a lot more nerves but you just have to be relaxed and calm. It will be a challenge, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

Hamilton only had good things to say about his time at Penicuik where he netted 12 goals during his six-month stint and he believes it has helped him improve his game.

He said: “The fans were good for me. It was a good atmosphere but it won’t be as good as next week against Celtic, Rangers and teams like that. We played in front of 100 or 200 it will be different on Saturday. It has helped me a lot to be honest. At Penicuik it toughened me up a bit, made me bigger and stronger and then at Berwick that was another little jump up and needed to be a little bit sharper.”

Hamilton has found himself in a privileged position learning off one of the best striker’s Scotland have produced in recent years.

Former Rangers and Celtic striker Kenny Miller took over as player-boss from David Hopkin in the summer, and the former Scotland international has been impressed by what he has seen so far though admits Hamilton has got a lot to learn.

His pupil is only too happy to soak up all the bits of advice from Miller and other team-mates in the dressing room.

However, he knows he will have his work cut out to keep his place in the team with forwards Ryan Hardie and Lee Miller to return.

Hamilton said: “It’s great, he [Kenny Miller] is so good to me and he speaks to me a lot.

“He gives me little pointers and I’m just taking it on board and seeing what I can do. He is still sharp, still good and he helps the team out a lot. Ryan [Hardie] and that have been great with me and helped me a lot. I’ll challenge for my spot but we’ll see what happens when they come back.”