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1890/91: A Change of Mind

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With the club's brief membership of the Northern Football Association ended, the committee had a change of mind and decided to re-join the Northumberland Football Association for season 1890/91, in order to qualify for the Minor Cup, and friendly matches again became the norm. An increase in the membership of the Berwick Rangers Football Club led to the formation of a third eleven, along with a junior side, to give all their members a game. The third eleven was nicknamed the "Pen wipers", or the "Pen and Pencil", as they were made up mainly from bank clerks and office workers, reinforced by regular players.

September

The senior team kicked off the new season with an easy 6-2 victory in a friendly, played in two 35-minute halves, against Kelso Athletic at Sheddon Park on 20th September. Campbell opened the scoring for Berwick from a T. Nicholson cross from the right. Straight from the kick-off, Rangers gained possession and Campbell added a second. McTeer scored a third before Kelso finally woke and reduced the deficit just before the interval. The second half was a repartition of the first. From a miskick by one of the Kelso backs, T. Nicholson broke away to net goal number four and shortly after the same player added a fifth. Campbell completed his hat trick a few minutes later before a defensive error by Black let the home side in to notch their second with only a few minutes remaining.

Flushed with their success at Kelso, Rangers looked forward to the visit of old rivals the Alnwick Working Men's Club a week later and a good match was envisaged. However, the match fell far short of expectation with Berwick running out comfortable 6-1winners. With a strong wind in their favour, Alnwick opened brightest and scored when Nicholson failed to clear his goal line, and Taylor forced the ball home. However, Rangers levelled matters when T. Nicholson scored after working his way down the left, and a few minutes later Carr sent in a twister to put Berwick ahead. In the second half, with the wind now behind them, Rangers ran with ease through their opponents. After only five minutes, Campbell added to the tally and a few minutes later T. Nicholson scored his second to make it four, after a neat passing move. In another sortie, Simpson made five after he was left with a clear shot on goal and, in the final minute, T. S. Nicholson made it six.

October

Due to a late cancellation of the return match with Kelso Athletic, Rangers played and out gunned the Military with a 4-2 victory against the KOSB Depot team.

Rangers were keen to keep the momentum flowing, with the local cup competitions looming, and they arranged a friendly with the up and coming Coldstream Football Club. The Streamers, however, were not yet a match for the strong Berwick side and were beaten 3-1 at the Pier Field. The match kicked-off late at five o'clock and played over two 35-minute halves. Rangers were quick off the blocks. By the quarter-hour mark, they were three goals ahead at which point they slackened the pace considerably. Coldstream had two Rangers players in their ranks, Brand and Charles Simpson, to make up their numbers, and the two combined to create an opening from which Aiken scored in the second half. However, it proved nothing more than a consolation as the daylight began to disappear, and the game was cut short.

In the first ever visit to Duns by Berwick Rangers the Berwickers returned return with a comfortable 4-2 win. A determined Duns side gave a solid display, but the Rangers had plenty in reserve and never had the appearance of a losing side. Rangers opened the scoring with an easy goal on ten minutes when T. Nicholson kicked the ball goal ward; the keeper rushed out to clear but missed the ball completely, and it rolled slowly into the net. Cameron levelled the score with a peach of a shot early in the second half. A few minutes later, Cameron latched onto a rebound, after Clazie's shot had hit the woodwork, to put Duns ahead. However, Rangers upped a gear and, from a throw-in, McTeer got hold of the ball and equalised. At this point, the Dingers began to fade, and James Campbell gave Berwick the lead before securing victory when he hit home a fourth.

Rangers secured an easy 9-1 win in the Short Cup against the KOSB. The Soldiers played a good all-round game in the first half, and their keeper was only beaten twice, both times by Carr, before the interval. Nobody could have thought it possible that the Military would be so overwhelmed in the second half, but the Rangers were in top form, with some excellent individual play from the forward line, and fully deserved their win.

November

Duns visited the Pier Field on November 15th, where a large local crowd had gathered, due mainly to the fact that there was no gate to be paid. The visitors proved themselves a good match for the Rangers and were only a goal down, scored by McTeer in the opening minute, at half-time, but they weakened as the game progressed. After the interval, the home team showed vast superiority and a spell of quickly taken goals led to convincing 6-1 win. Carr added a second before repeating the feat a few minutes later. Cameron then scored for Duns from a scrimmage in front of goal before Hastie scored Berwick's fourth with a long, swift drive and McTeer added two more to complete his hat trick. The game, however, was marred by crowd trouble, with the game stopped on several occasions to calm the pro-Tweedside element that were intent on causing trouble.

A weakened Rangers team travelled to snow covered Alnwick for a return friendly with the Working Men's Club. Three of their best players, including the entire back line, were absent, and replacements had to be found at the last minute. Alnwick were at full-strength and still smarting after the last meeting and raring to go. Rangers had a good goal disallowed before Alnwick took the lead through Taylor. Not to be outdone, Berwick battled back, with James Campbell hitting the woodwork before T. Nicholson equalised. Nevin put the home side back in front before adding another to the tally just before half-time. Despite a spell of sustained pressure, Rangers went further behind when Davidson and W. Thompson put Alnwick four goals clear. Matters now looked serious for Berwick, and a heavy defeat looked on the cards. However, they hit back with two quick goals from McTeer and one from T. Nicholson, reducing the deficit to just one goal. A draw looked a certainty when T. S. Nicholson race through, but he was wantonly tripped from behind and the referee waved away appeals for a foul. This caused considerable commotion amongst the supporters, the greater proportion of which favoured the Rangers, with shouts of "go on Berwick" being repeatedly heard from their lines, but the fightback was all in vain as Taylor scored a sixth for Alnwick in the last few minutes to put the result beyond doubt.

December

December saw the start of the Shielfield Cup competition take place at Shielfield. This new competition was to replace the Silver Medals competition, played the previous season, with a cup and two sets of gold and silver medals presented by Mr. William Shiel Dods. The competition was open to all clubs within a 50-mile radius of Berwick, but clubs out with the town were at a disadvantage as all the ties were to be played at Shielfield. In the opening round of the Shielfield Cup, against the second eleven of the Tweedside Wanderers, Rangers had a poor game, but still managed to reach the semi-final stage with a 6-2 victory. The Wanderers played a strong eleven, while Rangers played two substitutes. Berwick opened the scoring on ten minutes and doubled their lead a few minutes later. W. Shiel pulled a goal back for the Twempies after the Rangers defence failed to clear a corner. At the start of the second half, some neat midfield work by McTeer and James Campbell paved the way for Nicholson to add a third. Wanderers replied with Graham's shot hitting the back of the net. However, Rangers scored direct from the kick-off, and Nicholson quickly added another to put Berwick three goals ahead. The Tweedsiders then upped their game, but the Rangers defence blocked their progress and James Campbell added a sixth after a neat run down the wing.

For the second year running, Rangers drew their second eleven in the second round of the Short Cup and again they scratched. They met the first eleven of the Tweedside Wanderers in a semi-final battle between the boroughs top two teams at Shielfield, where over 400 spectators turned out watch. The Wanderers looked dangerous in attack, whilst the Rangers defence looked notably unsteady, and it came as no surprise when Shiel slipped the ball home following a neat move down the right to give the Tweedsiders the lead. However, it was Rangers who held the upper hand at half-time after Colin Campbell and Rhind scored to give the Berwickers a 2-1 lead. The second half saw Shiel score his second of the afternoon to level the score. A change in the Rangers' shooting department improved matters with Charles Simpson netting, but the lead did not last. Wanderers levelled again when, following a corner, Manual scored from within a goalmouth melee. Both teams went all-out to gain the lead, and Campbell put Rangers back in front with just five minutes remaining. It looked as if there was little hope for the Wanderers, but they forced a corner and, despite the efforts of the Berwick defence, Manual headed home. With the teams finishing level, fifteen minutes extra time was proposed by the referee, but it met with strong opposition from both sides, who agreed on a replay.

January

New Year's Day saw the semi final and final of the Shielfield Cup competition take place at Shielfield. Berwick Rangers beat Seaside Rovers 5-2 in the second semi final of the day and were to meet the Tweedside Wanderers, who had beaten the Border Swifts 3-2 earlier in the day, in the final.

Rangers started the semi-final against Seaside Rovers brightly with Simpson sending in the first goal after ten minutes' play, and a neat through ball by McTeer sent James Campbell away to give Berwick a comfortable 2-0 half-time lead. Green cleared a dangerous looking ball after some splendid work by the Rovers' front line before Carr put Rangers further ahead. The Spittalers then pressed, and Patterson scored a beauty for the Rovers. A quick counterattack paved the way for McFarlane to add number four to Berwick's tally and later he added a fifth. Just before the end, Hope puzzled Green in a one-on-one to reduce the arrears.

A crowd of more than two thousand lined the ropes to watch the final kick-off at 2.30 pm. Wanderers won the toss and chose to play with the low sun in their favour. They took an early lead when Rollo dashed away to score but they then pushed forward, leaving large gaps in defence, which allowed Carr a smart run down the field to equalise. The second half saw Rangers take the lead with early goals from Carr and McTeer before out playing the Wanderers and cruising into a 6-1 advantage. However, the Tweedsiders fought back with two more goals, only to see Rangers shut the door with a late seventh to seal the cup. At the final whistle, the Wanderers protested on the grounds of darkness. The game was stopped, allegedly, five minutes before time. The protest was later settled, and Rangers were awarded the Cup and gold medals.

The busy New Year period saw the visit of the Edinburgh Borderers, who were made up from exiled Borderers living in Edinburgh, on a holiday tour of the area. They met a scratch team of the Rangers and were soundly beaten with the Berwickers the better team throughout. At the interval Rangers led by five clear goals and, although they eased up in the remaining half, they still added another two goals to win 7-0.

In the final holiday game, Newcastle side North Eastern were the visitors. Having sustained defeat on each previous occasion, the tables were turned this time with the North Eastern winning 3-2 in an evenly contested affair. The Tynesiders twice took the lead in the first half before opening a two-goal lead early in the second. McFarlane pulled a goal back late on, but it was too little too late.

In the Northumberland Minor Cup, which was open to all teams in Northumberland, except for the four large Newcastle based teams, Berwick Rangers played hosts to Amble. Both teams were under strength for the match, held on an icebound pitch, which ended in a fair 2-2 draw. The visitors held a one-goal lead at the interval, but Rangers equalised soon after. Amble regained the upper hand midway through the second half only to be pegged back again a few minutes later.

Ice was still a problem a week later, when Rangers met Tweedside Wanderers in the Short Cup Semi-final replay at Shielfield. The Wanderers fielded an under-strength side, and it showed as Berwick ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in a one-sided affair. T. S. Nicholson opened the scoring to give Rangers a 1-0 interval lead in a dour first half. Wanderers' only contribution was one attack on goal that was easily checked. The second half was a bit more entertaining with the Tweedsiders' goal living a charmed life at times as the Berwick forward line battered away, scoring three more goals in the process.

There was only one team in it this time in the undecided Minor Cup tie with Amble, as Rangers laid siege on the home goal. From the start, the Berwickers made their presence felt and peppered the Amble goal with shot after shot, but the home defence proved equal on each occasion. However, Rangers finally broke through to take a two-goal lead, with goals by Carr and Colin Campbell. They were taken back when Amble scored, as up until that point the Amble attack had seldom past midfield. In the second half, the home team hugged the posts, making any more scoring virtually impossible.

February

In Minor Cup second round, Blyth 2nd XI were the opponents. Both teams opened smartly with entertaining end-to-end football, but it was Rangers who had the edge in shooting skills and finished the half three goals up. In the second half, the visitors gave up, leaving Berwick to shoot at will. Although Blyth did register two goals from breakaways, the Rangers front line kept on adding goals until the respectable figure of ten had been reached, when it was evident that their desire for more had ended, and the scoring ceased.

Duns were Rangers' opponents in the final of the Short Cup at Shielfield. Berwick opened the scoring through McTeer before Duns took control and equalised from a corner. Good work by Tommy Nicholson and Wilson sent James Campbell away to notch number two for the Rangers, only to see Duns reply. Duns went close on several occasions before finally taking the lead. However, against the run of play McFarlane levelled. Berwick took the upper hand in the second half, hemming Duns back in their own half. However, the Dingers defended admirably throughout and although Rangers secured two more goals by full time, the cup was not yet won. The Duns captain lodged a protest on the grounds of an incompetent referee, who had no right to be there as he was not the referee appointed by the Short Cup Committee. After some lengthy deliberation, the Committee ordered that the match should be replayed on March 14th.

Willington Athletic were visitors to Shielfield in the third round of the Minor Cup. A crowd of over 2000, with a special train bringing 500 from Newcastle, turned out to watch the proceedings. Winning the toss, the visitors chose, with good foresight, to play up the hill and into the sun. Willington were on the attack immediately, but Rangers settled quickly and got down to business. A combined move involving Whalley and McTeer saw Whalley miss an open goal. Then Hastie sent in a beauty, which struck the bar and hovered in the goalmouth until Ricalton got back to kick away. However, it was Rangers who scored the opening goal when Black latched on to a low cross played into the 18-yard box. Willington fought back, and there was a touch of the rugby code with some of the tackles flying in. Following a fine Campbell move down the left McFarlane put Rangers two ahead. Berwick could sense their chance of victory and pulled out all the stops, but they were caught out when a corner from Dack on the left was headed ball home. After the interval, and with the hill in their favour, Willington began to press matters down the left, but the home backs stood firm. A change of tactics saw a long ball played down the right catch the defence cold, and Willington were level. The visitors maintained the pressure and won a series of corners which, fortunately for the Rangers, came to nothing. Minutes later, however, the visitors took the lead with a high shot from the left wing. Berwick then upped their game, and visits to both goals were frequent and fast. The Willington backs were sending in long shots that were a continual source of danger. A smart run up the left by McTeer saw Rangers level again, but five minutes from time Morris scored the winner for Willington, who later acknowledged the fact that they had just encountered a hard-fought game with the Rangers.

March

The date set for the replay of the Short Cup Final was 14th March, but the dispute had still not been resolved. The Duns club refused to have the matter settled by arbitration, saying that the tie was ordered to be replayed and that they were ready to do so. Rangers replied that the Short Cup Committee, having approached them regarding arbitration, and considering that there were no grounds to order the game to be replayed, refused any other terms. The Committee decided that the cup be returned to the donor, Mr. Short, who was asked to attend a further meeting. After full consideration, he concluded that the best way to settle the matter was through arbitration and, in the case of Duns refusing such method, Berwick Rangers should be declared winners. Duns again refused, and Rangers were declared rightful winners.

A friendly match with Ashington Rising Sun was played at Shielfield, to fill the void, with Rangers winning in a high scoring but tame encounter 6-5. Rangers took the lead on five minutes when McFarlane had the last touch following a melee in the goalmouth. McFarlane then doubled the advantage when he steered home McTeer's cross from the right. Ashington got on the score sheet when Davidson's shot eluded Green and a minute later the same player scored a second to level matters. McTeer was again the provider when Nicholson scored goal number three and just before half-time James Campbell made it four. Midway through the second half a fine centre by McTeer was volleyed home by Whalley, and ten minutes later Nicholson made it six. It looked as if the game was won, but the visitors had other ideas. Three quick goals in the last ten minutes made for a nervous finish but Rangers just held out to win.

Willington Athletic invited Berwick to play a friendly match at Howden after special relationship had evolved between the two clubs following their hard-fought Minor Cup match, and this time the Rangers secured a creditable 3-3 draw. Berwick opened brightest in a fast and furious game. McFarlane struck the crossbar with a fierce shot, which rebounded back into play, before a Nicholson effort gave Rangers a 1-0 half-time lead their play deserved. An early second half siege by the home side put them 2-1 ahead within ten minutes of the restart, but Berwick drew level sixty seconds later when Nicholson scored his second of the afternoon. A terrific shot by McTeer flashed flew inches wide of the post as Rangers began to find their feet again, but Willington retook the lead when the Berwick defence failed to clear the danger following a corner. Rangers did not let their heads drop after this reverse and were not long in finding the net again when James Campbell broke through the middle to complete the scoring.

Rangers filled the Easter weekend with a tour of the Borders. A Good Friday encounter against the association team of the Kelso Rugby Club resulted in a 2-1 Berwick win. Kelso opened the scoring, but Nicholson levelled the score before half-time and Whalley scored a late second to seal the victory. The following day Rangers had a stroll in the park as they defeated Hawick Rangers 7-2.

April

A challenge match against last season's Northumberland Minor Cup winners, Science and Art from Newcastle, was arranged for the final Saturday of the season at Shielfield. Although Berwick held a two-goal advantage at half-time, they were no match for the Science and Art after the break. Lacking the fitness, Rangers conceded four goals without reply. Rangers opened the scoring through Nicholson after some neat play by McTeer and McFarlane provided the opportunity. A second goal soon followed when Whalley hit home a low shot. However, the Tynesiders opened the second half strongly and scored off the left wing. Keeping up the pressure, Wood notched a second a few minutes later to level the score. A slip by Rhind allowed Donaldson to add a third, and as the game became one-sided the visitors added a fourth.

The match brought the curtain down on a successful season for Berwick Rangers with two honours won, the Shielfield Cup and the Short Cup, to stand alongside the 2nd XI Medals Competition won by the Reserve team. Rangers had also reached the third round of the Northumberland Minor Cup and the future was looking bright.

Results
Date C V Opposition Res i
Sep 20 F A Kelso Athletic W 6-2
27 F H Alnwick WMC W 6-1
Oct 4 F H KOSB Depot W 4-2
11 F H Coldstream W 3-1
18 F A Duns W 4-2
25 STC 1 H KOSB Depot W 9-1
Nov 15 F H Duns W 6-1
29 F A Alnwick WMC L 4-6
Dec 6 SFC 1 A Tweedside Wanderers 2nd XI W 6-2
20 STC SF A Tweedside Wanderers D 4-4
Jan 1 SFC SF N Seaside Rovers 5-2
1 SFC F N Tweedside Wanderers 7-3
2 F H Edinburgh Borderers W 7-0
3 F H North Eastern L 2-3
10 NMC 1 H Amble Blue Star D 2-2
17 STC SFR N Tweedside Wanderers 4-0
31 NMC 1R A Amble Blue Star W 2-1
Feb 7 NMC 2 H Blyth 2nd XI W 10-2
14 STC F N Duns 5-3
21 NMC 3 H Willington Athletic L 3-4
Mar 14 F H Ashington Rising Star W 6-5
21 F A Willington Athletic D 3-3
27 F A Kelso Rugby Club XI W 2-1
28 F A Hawick Rangers W 7-2
Apr 11 F H Science & Art L 2-4
Appearances & Goals
F STC SFC NMC
Player A G A G A G A G
William Attridge 5      
Thomas Bell 1
Alex Black 6 4 2 3 1
Brand 1
Colin Campbell 11 1 4 2 3 3 1
James Campbell 14 7 4 1 3 5
John Carr 3 3 2 2 3 2 2
William Green 4 2 3
Jack Gray 3
James Hastie 8 1 4 3 4
Tom Hope 2
John Johnson 1
David Madden 1 2 1
Robert Mathieson 7
William McFarlane 10 3 4 3 4 1
Francis McTeer 13 7 4 1 3 3 1
George Nicholson 1 1 1
Thomas Nicholson 6 7 2 1
Thomas S Nicholson 11 7 4 1 1 2
Robert Rhind 11 4 1 3 3
James Sherlaw 2
Charles Simpson 1 1 1
Richard Simpson 13 1 4 3 4
Robert Thompson 2 1
Andrew Wallace 1
Henry Warner 1 1
Richard Whalley 7 3 4
Number of players used: 27