Berwick Rangers

Doug Stenhouse sheds some light on the colourful history of Berwick Rangers

How would you assess the playing standard in Scottish Division Two?
The standard is certainly better in Division One, with some full-time squads. However, clubs such as Clyde have done well with part-timers. It’s possible most Second Division boards are happy to stay where they are, knowing all too well that higher standards mean higher salaries they can ill afford.

Would the Scottish League benefit from having a pyramid structure?
It needs something. In the ten-team leagues, clubs tend to cancel each other out after four meetings a season. But there are a number of hurdles: having different organisations – the Junior leagues, the Highland League and the East of Scotland League; the clubs can get good crowds, but distances could be a problem; and the Scottish League clubs are un­likely to vote for a system that risks their status.

Do Berwick attract much support from England and has that ever been a problem?
Apart from the ground-hoppers visiting the “93rd league club in England”, many fans travel up on the main London to Edinburgh train. The Scotland- England banter can get out of hand, but as half the Berwick support is Scottish, it is usually just a few in­­­sults. Many Scots believe the English stole the town after the battle of Hallidon Hill in 1333, but at a recent re-enactment, the Scots lost that one as well.

Would Berwick have bigger crowds if they went up?

The increase would come mainly from away fans as the local population seems to want to do other things on a Saturday, such as watch Newcastle or Sunderland. This year, the club has been bought by a local consortium who immediately invited a representative from the newly formed supporters’ trust on to the board, so the signs are good.

What have been your worst and best moments?

There was a 9-0 thrashing by Celtic after we had surrendered home advantage for financial gain. In complete contrast, we held Rangers to a 0-0 draw live on Sky in a 2002 Scottish Cup game, very near­ly repeating the feat of 1967. “Can we play you every week?” we asked.

Milestones & Millstones

1881 Club formed by a group of local people led by a Mr Peter Cowe.
1906 After toing and froing, finally decide which country to play in and win the East of Scotland Consolation Cup.
1927 Lift unprecedented double double: the Border Cup, The EOS Qualifying Cup, the King Cup and the EOS League.
1947 Win Scottish Qualifying Cup, taking it south of the border for the first time.
1951 Admitted to the Scottish Football League, the only England-based club.
1952 John Thompson oversees the creation of Shielfield Park, starting with a stand bought from Bradford City, dismantled, shipped by train and rebuilt.
195 The first big cup shock – First Division Dundee are well beaten
1965 Rangers propose Berwick should be axed from the Scottish League.
1967 With Jock Wallace in goal, Berwick pull off the Scottish Cup’s biggest shock – beating mighty Rangers 1-0.
1979 Davie Smith leads Berwick to the Second Division title
1990 Narrowly saved from liquidation
1994 The "Dream team" win promotion to the newly formed Division Two
1997 Relegated to Division Three
2000 Win promotion again, with one of the best defensive records in Britain
2003 The new Supporters' Trust win a seat on the board of directors

Fondly remembered
Davie Smith ~ Arrived as player/manager from the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1977. Wearing white boots and No 13, the left-back built a team that took the Second Division championship and gave us two glorious years in the First. Sadly, his off-field problems took their toll and he left under a cloud. But sheer class.

Best forgotten
George Deans ~ Aged 21, was Britain’s youngest chairman – his only achievement. Big talk was followed by a near-terminal decline that took years of misery to resolve. Halfway through the 1989 season, he jumped ship to Falkirk, taking manager Jim Jeffries and the coaching staff.

From WSC 201 November 2003. What was happening this month

Comments (1)
Comment by autumnstone 2012-01-13 15:01:40

'but as half the Berwick support is Scottish'

complete tosh the scots hate england and despise berwick even more. Berwick fans are a hardy breed racially abused at every match they play.