Results

1897/98: Own Way

Every effort was made by the club to secure a good fixture card for the new season, but due to the rise of organised league football on both sides of the border, they were hard to arrange without the payment of extravagant guarantees. At the club's annual general meeting the treasurer reported that there was a small balance in hand and that several subscriptions from last season were still due. The club again entered for the English FA Amateur Cup and the Northumberland FA Senior Cup.

Calls for the amalgamation of Berwick Rangers and Tweedside United were again heard. It was thought that one strong borough team, with joint support from both sides, could offer a good gate and stronger opposition for the principle Newcastle and Edinburgh amateur teams to play. The pros and cons of amalgamation were discussed between prominent members of both clubs with many in favour of a joint venture. A game one Saturday, and none again for five or six weeks played havoc with club expenses and the thought of another blank season, like the last, was fuelling the cause. However, Rangers decided to go their own way and secured Shielfield as their home for another season.

September

Rangers lost their opening game of the season 3-2 after a rusty performance at Kelso on September 25th. The best of the play lay with the Rangers for the first twenty minutes, after which Kelso took up the running and Fuller had his work cut out to keep his goal intact. He saved well on numerous occasions, but a well-hit ball from the right eventually beat him. The hosts extended their lead early in the second half and a misunderstanding among the Berwick defenders a few minutes later let Kelso score again. With a three-goal lead, Kelso were playing confidently, while the Rangers did their best to reduce the leeway. They finally broke through when a Brodie shot was pushed out by the keeper and Halley was in the right place to head home. Later, Halley sent in a high shot, which struck the crossbar, and from the rebound Crombie scored a second. Rangers were now playing with confidence and a draw looked a strong possibility, only to be beaten by the clock.

October

A week later, however, and without the services of several players, Rangers had to put a team together at the last minute but still managed to beat Tweedside United 3-1 on the Meadow Field. Berwick took a deserved lead when the ball went in off the foot of Pratt, but the Tweedsiders equalised shortly before the interval, well against the run of play. On the restart, both teams battled hard to take the lead. Rangers made the breakthrough midway through the second half when Crombie restored the lead with a well-taken goal and a few minutes later Halley secured a third after which they confidently played out time.

Saturday October 16th proved to be a disastrous day for Berwick Rangers as the Newcastle United A team wrought havoc at St James' Park with a 9-0 victory in front of a crowd of 2000 spectators. Newcastle had most of the early play, and it came as no surprise when Gillespie scored the first goal of the game, putting the ball well out of Fuller's reach. Hume notched a second for the home side before Rangers finally woke up and made their first attempt at goal when Crombie's shot went narrowly wide. United continued to attack and Bartlett scored a third. Robertson was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the woodwork as Berwick fought back, but any thoughts of a comeback were dashed when Hedley scored a fourth, Bartlett a fifth and Blyth a sixth before half-time arrived. On the restart, United forced Rangers to retire into their own half as they rained in shot after shot. Collins scored number seven when he lifted a shot from the midway mark, forcing Fuller to leave his goal to intercept, and the ball passed behind him and landed in the net. Five minutes later Bartlett added an eighth and the ninth by Hume soon followed.

Rangers fared better a week later, when they overcame a determined Duns side 1-0 at Hawthorn Park. Berwick were by far the superior side and a well-taken goal by Alex Virtue, midway through the second half, was enough to give them a narrow but deserved victory.

Rangers broke new ground when they measured their strength against the newly formed Wooler Football Club. Fearing the worst, they sent a strong eleven. Wooler opened the brightest, but a foul in midfield presented Rangers with a free kick from which they took the lead. Halley shot goal-ward and the goalkeeper, in the belief that the ball was going wide, did not attempt to save. However, Murphy was in the right place at the right time and cleverly headed the ball between the posts. In the second half, Ring and Jamieson had their work cut out to defend the goal as Wooler pressed, but a long range shot from Virtue gave Rangers a two-goal lead, before darkness and mist set in and play developed into a bit of guess work. Wooler played the conditions best and managed to pull a goal back before time ran out.

November

Rangers were determined to avenge for their opening day defeat when they met Kelso in a return match at Shielfield. Luck was on the side of Kelso at the beginning, but as the game progressed play became more even. After 30 minutes, Holland banged home a fierce shot after a quick break up field by the Rangers' forwards. Murphy and Virtue both went close to increasing the lead, but the visiting keeper saved well on both occasions before Skelly put Rangers two ahead with a controversial goal a few minutes before half-time. The goal irritated the visitors mightily, and a vicious squabble took place. They maintained that the ball struck the referee first but, despite their protest, the goal stood. Kelso vented their anger by upping the pace after the interval, but they were soon brought back down to earth. Rangers increased their lead when a left-wing centre from Crombie was blasted home by Holland. Kelso had to work hard to prevent Rangers from scoring further but scuppered Berwick's boast of a clean sheet when they scrambled the ball home with only three minutes remaining.

In the return "friendly" meeting between the local rivals at Shielfield Park, Tweedside United snatched a 3-0 victory over a Rangers side fielding several junior players. There was no love lost either way as the game kicked off and Blythe shot home the first goal for United after 20 minutes' play. After a brief spell of Rangers pressure, United took the ball upfield and Tait scored the Twempies second of the afternoon. Ten minutes from half-time the game was stopped owing to one of the Tweedside players refusing to leave the field when ordered off for fighting. The second half continued with the Tweedsiders well on top and, as the match entered its final quarter, Weatherhead scored the third and final goal of the match.

Given a bye in the first round of the English FA Amateur Cup, Rangers played the Rutherford College of Science & Art in round two on the ground of the Newcastle side, just beyond Brandlia Park. Unfortunately, for the Rangers, three of their regular team called off at the last minute, which resulted in several positional changes. However, there was not a lot to choose between the sides in the opening stages as both sides attacked alternatively. The Students were first to score when J Davenport fired home, but Rangers fought back and, after good play from Crombie and Halley, Murphy levelled matters. As time progressed, the home side began to show their superiority and regained the lead from a long kick by Patterson. A further three goals by Patterson followed and, by half-time, Rangers were in deep trouble with the score at 5-1 against. Defences were on top after the interval and it took the Students until the hour mark to breakthrough again when Barrett scored. The tie was now more or less over, but the Rangers were by no means done with and Halley added a second from close quarters following excellent work down the left. As Berwick attacked, they left gaps at the back, which J. Davenport took full advantage to notch a seventh. With time running out Rangers gave the home keeper several good shots to contend with, including an awkward one from Wilson that just crept in.

December

Rangers were back in cup action on December 4th after being drawn against Newcastle United A in the opening round of the Northumberland Senior Cup. The cup committee had given Berwick the choice of grounds, and this put the club in a dilemma: should they forfeit home advantage and a better chance of progression to the second round or play away in favour of a better gate? When they took stock of the situation, they could not close their eyes to the fact that many of the club's monetary problems had been forced upon them by an apathetic public, and this swayed their decision to travel south. The teams met on the St James' Park ground under very raw weather. The gate was poor due mainly to the adverse conditions and the fact that United's second string had already trounced Berwick 9-0 a few weeks earlier. Rangers kicked off and managed to press their opponents briefly, but then the home side took up the running and by half-time they were five goals ahead. Worse was to follow in the second, as Newcastle scored another seven to amass a 12-0 victory inflicting Berwick's heaviest defeat to date. To add insult to injury, Rangers' share of the gate money barely covered their travelling expenses. Rangers were down as well as out!

A little bit of pride was restored after the thrashing on Tyneside when Rangers played their return match with Wooler. Three goals from Easton and a goal each from Weatherhead and Crombie was enough to win as easy as the 5-0 scoreline suggested.

A benefit match for Robert Patterson, whose leg was broken in a practice match earlier in the season, was held at Shielfield on December 18th, against a Berwick Borough Select XI. The Borough team was a strong combination captained by Tom Hope, whereas Rangers fielded a weakened side propped up with some young hands. The match itself was a stiffly contested affair and it was not until near half-time that either side threatened when Grieve shot home for the Borough. Within a few minutes, Rangers equalised when Hope fumbled a Holloway corner and the ball rolled into the net. In the second half, both sides tried hard with Rangers claiming another goal, but the referee gave the Borough the benefit of the doubt and the game ended all square.

January

A strong Berwick eleven faced Dalkeith Rangers at Shielfield on New Year's Day. The tempo of the game was fast from the start with plenty of goalmouth action included. Berwick had the better of the early chances with little to show, but by the end of the half the score stood at 2-1 in their favour. After the interval, Dalkeith showed that they were dangerous on the break and after twenty minutes they were level. However, Berwick regained the lead with a very dubious goal before they took the visitors' goal by storm and scored another. Dalkeith now had little appetite for battle and Rangers added a fifth seconds before the final whistle.

It was unfortunate that Newcastle United A could not favour Berwick with any other day than Monday January 3rd for their return friendly fixture, as the day was not a holiday, and subsequently the gate and team suffered. Rangers kicked off with only ten players on the field and after ten minutes of constant pressure Newcastle took the lead when Ogilvie misjudged Gillespie's oblique shot from the left and it landed in the net. Berwick fought back briefly and were unlucky when Easton could only kick the ball into the keeper's hands when clean through, and a Holloway saw his shot glance narrowly wide of the post. However, a free kick just outside the box gave United their second count and Kinnear knocked through their third immediately after. United were now in rampant form, and it came as no surprise when Gillespie added a fourth just before half-time. On the restart, Rangers upped their game and eventually Holloway placed their first into the net. Keeping up the pressure, Brodie added a second, but Newcastle had enough resources to keep Berwick at bay and just before the end they added a fifth to their total.

Rangers took heart from the 5-2 reverse against Newcastle, as it was a better that could be expected result against a far superior outfit, and they went into their next home fixture against Duns with full confidence. However, Duns soon wiped the smile off their faces when they crossed over at half-time with a deserved 1-0 lead. Holloway levelled the score soon after the restart, and later Easton gave Rangers the lead. However, Duns pulled the score back to two goals apiece in an evenly contested encounter.

The two teams met again the following week in the return match at Hawthorn Park. Duns had the better of the first half, against a Rangers side reduced to ten men, after the injured Brodie was forced to leave the field, but they could not turn their pressure into more than one goal and paid the consequences. In the second half Rangers had most of the play but had to wait until late in the match before Hope levelled the score.

February

Edinburgh University brought a strong looking side to Shielfield, but owing to an extremely strong wind, blowing end on to the ground, the weather was against entertaining football for the few who bothered to watch. The wind totally dictated play with the visitors scoring four times in the first half, and on the change of ends the Rangers doing likewise.

The season drew to a premature end on February 26th, with a revenge game against North Sunderland. The Sunderland men had beaten a reserve team of the Rangers 2-1 a month earlier and with this in mind the strongest available eleven was sent to redress the balance. However, North Sunderland had other ideas and put up a stubborn fight. A perfectly placed free kick headed rocket style into the far corner of the net gave the Villagers a narrow interval lead. Rangers hit back on the restart but, despite several spells of prolonged pressure, they failed to score, and the season ended in defeat.

Local interest in football began to wane long before the season closed with the coming of the longer days and lighter nights in which to pursue other activities. The idea of a local league was raised yet again by the Rangers' committee as the days of friendly fixtures were long gone, and the only sure draw for a decent crowd was the lure of a cup match or league encounter with points to score. It was suggested that teams within a thirty-mile radius, or thereabouts, of the town be included in a league and a list of half-a-dozen clubs in the area was drawn up in anticipation.

Results
Date C V Opposition Res i
Sep 25 F A Kelso L 2-3
Oct 9 F A Tweedside United W 3-1
16 F A Newcastle United A L 0-9
23 F A Duns W 1-0
30 F A Wooler W 2-1
Nov 6 F H Kelso W 3-1
13 F H Tweedside United L 0-3
20 EAC 2 A Rutherford College L 3-7
Dec 4 NSC 1 A Newcastle United A L 0-12
11 F H Wooler W 5-0
18 F H Berwick Borough Select XI D 1-1
Jan 1 F H Dalkeith Rangers W 5-2
3 F H Newcastle United A L 2-5
22 F H Duns D 2-2
29 F A Duns D 1-1
Feb 12 F H Edinburgh University D 4-4
26 F A North Sunderland L 0-1
Appearances & Goals
F EAC NSC
Player A G A G A G
Andrew Bell 5
Tom Brodie 7 1 1
George Bryson 3
James Campbell 1
Thomas Cochrane 9 1 1
Mark Cockburn 4 1
Alex Crombie 7 3 1 1
George Easton 6 4
David Elder 1
Robert Fuller 5
Jimmy Grieve 3 1
William Halley 5 2 1 1
Francis Holland 2 2 1 1
James Holloway 1
Richard Holloway 7 3 1 1
Tom Hope 4 1
Thomas Jamieson 5
John Jones 1
Jack Kerr 1
James King 2
Rupert King 2
Tom Lindsay 1
James Manuel 1
William McFarlane 12 1 1
Gordon Melrose 1
Richard Murphy 3 1 1 1
Alex Ogilvie 5 1
William Pratt 3 1
John Renwick 10 1 1
Peter Renwick 1
John Ring 5
Robert Robertson 3
James Skelly 2 1
Tommy Smith 1
Richard Tait 2 1
William Thompson 1
Robert Turnbull 1
Alex Virtue 6 2
Andrew Weatherhead 5 1
Wilson 1 1 1
Number of players used: 40