Taking the captaincy of a team that won everything on offer the previous season could be viewed as a poisoned chalice but Rory Carmichael is relishing leading Heriot’s into the new club season, with tonight’s BT Charity Shield clash with Melrose at Goldenacre the curtain-raiser.
When it is jokingly put to him that the only way could be down, the 30-year-old centre breaks into a smile. “Yes I suppose there is added pressure with how well things went last season,” he said, referring to the club’s first-ever league and cup double, plus the Charity Shield too.
“But as this group, with some new players, we feel we haven’t achieved anything and will be looking to repeat what last season’s squad achieved. The goal has to be generally the same – aim for a play-off spot and see what happens from there. The last couple of years, we’ve shown we’re a good play-off team.”
Carmichael takes the club captaincy from Jack Turley, who has moved down to Fylde, and is excited about the season ahead, which will see a number of fresh faces for the champions, including forward Callum Marshall from Selkirk and stand-off Alex Hagart, who has joined from Aberdeen Grammar.
“I’m very proud,” he said of the captaincy. “I’ve been at the club for a few years now and it’s given me a lot so I’m looking forward to giving back, supported by two very able vice-captains in Michael Liness and John Semple and striving to get some more silverware for the trophy cabinet.”
Carmichael starts tonight’s game on the bench, with hooker Liness leading the team out.
Heriot’s face the side they beat in the BT Cup final back in April a week before they defeated Ayr at Millbrae to retain the BT Premiership.
“We’ve been lucky enough to play in the Charity Shield the last couple of years and it gives you something a bit more competitive than a usual pre-season game,” said Carmichael. “It gives you a chance to test the systems in a game with a bit more edge to it. We are massively looking forward to it.”
Heriot’s team to play Melrose in BT Charity Shield at Goldenacre, tonight, kick-off 6.45pm): G Parker; J Rae, J Laird, D Crawford, C Simpson; A Hagart, T Wilson; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, C Smith, A Henderson, J McClean, C Marshall. Subs: D Mason, R Mitchell, T Lapyere, L Sinclair, A Simmers, R Carmichael, A McLean.