Results

1896/97: Malaise

John Renwick became the new club captain, replacing the retired Colin Campbell, with Tom Jamieson taking the vice-captain's role. Berwick Athletic had decided to cast their lot in with the Rangers, after failing to secure a field on which to play, and with such a large influx of new players from which to choose Tom Cochrane, their former captain, was given the reserve team captaincy. On a county level, Rangers entered the Northumberland FA Senior Cup, and this season were eligible to compete in the Minor Cup. Locally, Rangers were to defend their hold on the Shielfield Cup.

September

Rangers opened their campaign with a visit from Kelso on September 26th. Tom Hope had left the club to play for Willington Athletic and ex-Berwick Athletic player Robert Patterson took his place in goal. Tommy Smith and Tom Brodie made up the Athletic contingent in the side along with John Ring and William Halley, who were drafted in from the KOSB team. Rangers scored the only goal when Brodie stroked the ball home five minutes before the interval in a keenly contested game.

October

Rangers held the whip hand in a match against Duns at Shielfield. Two goals up at half-time Berwick were cruising, but a second half fight back saw the Dingers score two goals in quick succession to level the score.

A week later, Rangers returned from Alnwick with a deserved 2-1 victory over the North End club.

November

Heavy ground conditions hampered the latest Rangers versus Tweedside United bout at a rain sodden Shielfield. Renwick opened Berwick's account with a shot that could have been stopped any day, but Saturday the 7th, when the goalkeeper was pretty much a fixture in the mud. United fought back, but the Rangers' next attack again proved productive when Halley sent in a long high shot into the top corner of the net. A few minutes later, Grieve scored direct from a corner when the ball rolled over the outstretched foot of the keeper. Play then turned rough, with both sides doing their bit, before United scored from a goalmouth melee right on the interval. Slack defending and a muddle in the goalmouth allowed United to score a soft goal just after the restart. Rangers' play became disjointed as the Tweedsiders pressed for the equaliser. However, Jamison put some life back into the Berwick attack when he ran through on his own to notch a fine goal and complete a 4-2 win.

Rangers proved the doubters wrong with a 3-1 win over an in-form Kelso side. Rangers fielded a team that many supporters thought stood little chance of winning. However, Berwick outwitted their hosts in a rough and tumble game and put through no less than five goals, although only three of them counted. Kelso scored a late consolation when presented with an easy strike after a miscalculation on the part of the keeper.

Bates Wanderers were due to visit Shielfield in the first round of the Northumberland Minor Cup. However, they scratched due to the travelling distance. To fill the vacant date, Rangers played Newcastle side North Eastern and won 2-0.

December

Rangers were down to play Shankhouse Black Watch in the opening round of the Northumberland Senior Cup. However, Shankhouse, along with Blyth, were rendered ineligible to compete in the competition by embracing professionalism and Rangers received a bye. Rangers travelled to Seaton Burn in the second round. The match was played on a sodden ground after a bout of heavy rain just before kick-off. However, Berwick got off to the perfect start with the opening goal after just five minutes, but the lead did not last long. The home side soon got their act together and, after piling on the pressure, won 6-2.

A Christmas Day match with Tweedside United at Shielfield brought out a large crowd who parted company with their hard-earned "thruppence" to watch the anticipated battle between these local rivals. The soft nature of the ground sunk all hopes of flowing football, but there was no lack of enthusiasm. The game opened fast with play slightly in favour of the more determined United, but Rangers drew first blood on the half-hour mark. Berwick had to fight hard to maintain their advantage with stand in keeper, Corporal Fuller of the KOSB team, called into action on several occasions. After the interval, Rangers increased their lead shortly before the Tweedsiders pulled a goal back midway through the half. With time running out, Jamieson banged home a late third for the Rangers, which was a bit harsh on the battling United side, as the 3-1 score line did not do their play justice.

Leith Athletic Reserves visited Shielfield on Boxing Day, where a strong gale made it a one-ended game. Rangers had the wind advantage first and secured three goals. The visitors then had their turn and, although Rangers played a defensive game, Leith soon levelled the score before putting through the winning goal in the final minute.

January

Berwick Rangers beat Tweed Saw Mills in the semi-final of the Shielfield Cup competition on New Year's Day. Playing in the face of the strong sun, Rangers only managed to score once in the opening half. However, it was a different story in the second half, with Halley raining shot after shot on the Millers' goal and another five goals were added without reply.

In the final, played later in the afternoon, Rangers met post office side Vale of Tweed, who were surprise winners over Tweedside United. The Postmen gave Rangers an early fright, when Leddy scored in only the fifth minute, but two soft goals gave Berwick a 2-1 interval lead. Vale's stubborn defence failed to hold out in the second half and Rangers added another two to maintain their grip on the cup.

Willington Athletic, with ex Rangers players' Tom Hope and James Manuel in their ranks, were Berwick's opponents in the second round of the Senior Cup. Rangers started full of confidence, but Willington took an early lead after a period of sustained pressure. With 10 minutes of the half remaining, Berwick replied through Renwick, who cracked home an unstoppable 30-yard shot into the top corner. Willington were in luck after the interval when a heavy snowstorm began to beat in the face of the Rangers' defence, making it almost impossible to defend their goal. McLucas put the home side ahead, and Scott increased the lead with a goal that practically decided the game. Scott scored again, when the Berwick defence was disorganised due appeals for a foul, and later a fifth was added. Despite the setback, Rangers never let their heads drop, and Crombie reduced the difference slightly with ten minutes of the game remaining.

With Rangers' disappointment at being out of the cup again, football in the borough, in general, ceased to become a weekly pastime as a malaise set in. An article from the Berwick Journal a few weeks later suggest that Rangers "might, for the sake of the game, try and do a little."

The formation of an East Northumberland League was mentioned in the Newcastle newspapers, but Rangers stood little chance of inclusion due to the town's northern latitude. With so many clubs situated so close together, travelling to play Berwick Rangers was the last thing on their minds. Football circles in the Borders were already well organised with a Border League consisting of Peebles Rovers, Vale of Leithen, Selkirk, Duns, Kelso, Earlston and Newcastleton now operating but with the same problem: travelling. With this mind, it was obvious that Berwick Rangers would have to be content with a less ambitious scheme for the future and a league consisting of clubs closer to home was suggested.

March

It was left to the local rivals, Berwick Rangers and Tweedside United, to round off the season with an exhibition match, on March 27th, at the Meadow Field. It was no great footballing treat, but the weather had little to do with it, more to do with the general football malaise and the attendance was not as large as these grudge matches usually attracted. United fielded their strongest side. Rangers, on the other hand, fielded a team that was not much more than a second eleven. Speculation had been rife as to the sort of combination Berwick would field. The committee had openly stated that they would refuse any player who had been doing duty for the club throughout the season to take part in the match unless they first paid their subscriptions, which were long overdue. However, United underestimated the Rangers and, by half-time, they were four goals down. The Tweedsiders upped their game and, within five minutes of the restart, they scored. After several glaring misses, they broke the stubborn Rangers defence for a second time, but with no further scoring the game and season ended in a 4-2 win for the Berwick representatives.

Results
Date C V Opposition Res i
Sep 26 F H Kelso W 1-0
Oct 17 F H Duns D 2-2
24 F A Alnwick North End W 2-1
Nov 7 F H Tweedside United W 4-2
14 F A Kelso W 3-1
28 F H North Eastern W 2-0
Dec 19 NMC 2 A Seaton Burn Wanderers 2-6
25 F H Tweedside United W 3-1
26 F H Leith Athletic Reserves L 3-4
Jan 1 SFC SF N Tweed Saw Mills W 6-0
1 SFC F N Vale of Tweed W 4-1
9 NSC 2 A Willington Athletic L 2-5
Mar 27 F A Tweedside United W 4-2
Appearances & Goals
F NMC SFC NSC
Player A G A G A G A G
Tom Brodie 5 1 1 2 1
James Campbell 1
Thomas Cochrane 4 1 2
Alex Crombie 5 1 1 1
George Easton 1 1
Robert Fuller 3 2 1
Jimmy Grieve 5 1 1 2
William Halley 6 1 1 2 1
James Holloway 3
Thomas Jamieson 6 2 1 2 1
James King 2 2 1
Rupert King 1 2 1
James Manuel 1
William McFarlane 2 1
Richard Murphy 4 2 1
Robert Patterson 4 1
John Renwick 7 1 1 2 1 1
Robert Rhind 2
John Ring 5 1 2 1
Tommy Smith 3
Alex Virtue 1
Number of players used: 21