24 August 2012

SFL3 Preview: Berwick Rangers


by Peter Ewart | Contributor

So Rangers finally get to play in England. Well, a couple times, anyway. 

Back in the days when chainmail was something you wore, the walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed changed hands more times than a jester’s balls. It has been English, then Scottish, English, Scottish, and is now English again. It’s reckoned it changed hands fifteen times through the ages until the 15th Century since when it has been English. 

There must be something about the place too because the SNP have already tried to annex it. MSP Christine Grahame (Remember her? Chair of the justice committee at Holyrood that took evidence on sectarianism/bigotry) suggested with typical modesty that Berwick would be better off in Scotland, lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament for its return in 2008. 

They famously beat us in the cup in the 60s and their away fans having been noising up the home supports in the Scottish leagues by brandishing the St George’s cross. Imagine.

THE TOWN

Perched on the North Sea coast, Berwick-upon-Tweed may be in England but it is closer than you might think, only fifty-odd miles down the A1 after Edinburgh. If you have travelled by train and down the East Coast mainline then you will have crossed the Royal Border bridge as you come into the town. This grade 1 listed viaduct was designed by Robert Stephenson and opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria. The town has one Wetherspoons and is the birthplace of our own Trevor Steven.

THE CLUB

The club were formed in the 1880s and have been playing in the Scottish Football League since 1955. They have had their fair share of financial troubles, having been locked out of their Shielfield Park in 1988-89 and have recently been playing in the lower leaks of the SFL, finishing seventh in division three last season.

*THAT* GAME 

In January 1967 Berwick beat Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Cup with a goal from Sammy Reid at Shielfield Park in front of 13,365 people - to this day still their biggest attendance. Jock Wallace, manager of Berwick at the time, went on to manage Hearts and of course spent two spells at Rangers.

Rangers had nine internationalists playing that day and were overwhelming favourites. That sounds frighteningly familiar…

THE GROUND - Shielfield Park

The ground is about one mile to the south of the centre of Berwick in Tweedmouth. There is one main stand and some covering on the other touch line but the remainder is not developed. Fans will also be slightly further away from the pitch as it is surrounded by an oval track used by the Berwick Bandits speedway team during the summer.

Away ticket chances (5 out of 10)

Reasonable travel time from the central belt, the first league game we will play in England and allocation of around 3000 tickets will be like gold dust again. The loyalty of our support is incredible. 

VIEWS ON THE RANGERS SAGA

Initially Berwick had supported a move to the First Division for “the good of Scottish Football,” but as the SFL vote came around, a Club spokesperson said "Berwick Rangers' Board tonight agreed unanimously that should the new Rangers FC be admitted to the SFL for the new season, that they would support a move directly into SFL Division Three… The Club has also taken on board the feelings of their Supporters Club, Supporters Trust and the countless individual fans who have contacted them directly."

So we can look forward to Shielfield Park on 26 August. Bring your sense of humour and your passport and I’m sure you’ll be fine. 

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BRFC on twitter: @OfficialBRFC

Official website: http://www.berwickrangersfc.co.uk/f-news/news.html