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1898/99: Different Direction

Football in the north of the county was heading in the right direction with the formation of the North Northumberland League, but Berwick Rangers decided not to be part of it and another season of meaningless friendlies, surrounding the odd cup competition, was all that the locals could expect at Shielfield.

Most of the old committee members had resigned their positions, having served their day and generation, and several new members were elected. Changes were also evident on the playing side with several regular players leaving during the close season including goalkeeper Robert Fuller, a military man who re-joined his KOSB regiment. Alex Ogilvie, although a change custodian and goalkeeper of Tweedside United, left for Tyneside, and half-back Tom Jamieson joined the army with the Seaforth Highlanders.

October

Rangers travelled optimistically to Duns on for the opening game of the season on October 22nd. However, Duns were full of confidence, after impressive wins over several border sides, and showed Berwick little respect with a 5-0 beating. The game started smoothly until Duns had scored their second goal after which play became decidedly rough, with the Berwickers doing the bulk of the dirty work. Despite the rough tactics, Duns added another two goals to their tally before half-time arrived. In the opening minutes of the second half, the referee had to halt proceedings on several occasions to calm unruly behaviour. Berwick had several grievances with the referee and when the match eventually resumed things were a good deal quieter; the fact that Duns only succeeded in scoring one more goal was sufficient evidence that the morale of the Berwick men had been restored.

A week later, and on home soil, Rangers took on Coldstream in another cross-border battle and this time they were the victors in a 6-0 rout.

November

In the first local match of the season, Rangers took on the newly formed borough team Tweedside Albion. Against the wind, the young Albion side managed to score a couple of goals, but Rangers held the upper hand throughout, using their extra height and weight, and eventually won 8-2.

After two high scoring matches, Rangers won by the much narrower margin of 2-1 in a return friendly with Coldstream at Home Park.

The late arrival of the referee delayed the kick-off between Berwick Rangers and Tweedside Albion in the first round of the Northumberland Minor Cup. The Tweedsiders played a reckless game and were lucky to change ends with a clean sheet. In the second half, a rather simple, though hard worked, Berwick goal was all that separated the two sides when darkness fell. Due to the referee being solely responsible for the late start of the match, he stopped play well before time, forcing the match to be replayed.

December

Rangers showed a few changes to their starting line for the replay, whereas Albion fielded the same eleven. It was a change for the best, however, as Berwick clearly outclassed their opponents and two excellent goals in the first half from Weatherhead and Murphy was a fair example of the difference between the teams. Brodie and Straughan found the net after the interval as Rangers reached the second round with a deserved 4-0 win.

Rangers were drawn at home against Waterford United, who were languishing at the bottom of the East Northumberland League, in the second round of the Minor Cup and were fully expected to win through and it came as no surprise when Waterford scratched.

In the Northumberland Senior Cup, Rangers received a bye in the first round and drawn at home against Prudhoe in the second. Rangers, who were concentrating their efforts on the Minor Cup, rested their best eleven and fielded a youthful team. Local supporters expected a heavy defeat against last year's finalists, but the youngsters held their own throughout the opening half. The second half proved different, however, as Prudhoe dominated proceedings and took the lead on the hour when Curry found an opening. Although the action was mainly in Berwick's half, Rangers put up a fight and it took the visitors until the final minutes to gain their second goal.

January

Edinburgh side Central Athletic answered a newspaper advertisement calling for a team willing to travel to Shielfield on New Year's holiday Monday for bare expenses. However, the standard of the opposition was poor to say the least. Rangers fielded a reasonably strong eleven and outclassed the visitors from the start, rattling in ten without reply.

In the hope of winning the Minor Cup for a second time, Rangers fielded a strong team against Ashington in the third round of the competition at a muddy Shielfield. Berwick got off to the best possible start when Roughead scored with a shot that ran along the goal line before hitting the far post and entering the net. Full of confidence, it was not long before Brodie added a second, and the visitors were bewildered when a long-range shot from Brodie made it three goals in as many minutes. Later, Murphy put through a fourth after good work down the wing by Straughan, but the goal was disallowed. In a very one-sided affair, it looked as if Rangers were going to demolish the Ashington team. However, possession gradually evened out, and the visitor's play improved drastically. They scored a simple first when Grieve ran out to kick a greasy ball instead of picking it up, after which Ashington took every opportunity to shoot at goal from long range, forcing the keeper to commit himself. A second goal was scored soon after, as panic and confusion set in amongst the Rangers' defence, followed by a third and fourth before half-time. In the second half, King and Robertson kept their heads at the back and prevented Ashington from increasing their score. However, the damaged had already been done. With both defences on top neither side was able to make any further gain and the game ended in a win for Ashington by the odd goal in seven.

Out of the cup running for another season, it was back to friendly business and a visit from Kelso. Rangers struggled to raise a team for the occasion and the few spectators who turned out to watch were not surprised when Kelso won 2-1.

February

Nearly a month past without football before a stronger looking Rangers side took on Alnwick United at Shielfield on February 11th. Rangers played a game of flowing football and once in front they never looked like losing, although Alnwick did manage to score a late consolation.

Tweedside Albion finally beat Berwick Rangers at the fourth time of asking. A goalkeeping error resulted in the Twempies first, and their second glanced into the net off the luckless McFarlane. Roughead pulled a goal back for Berwick but, despite holding territorial advantage in the second half, they could not break down the stubborn Tweedside defence and at the death Straughan scored Albion's third following a clear run on goal.

April

After a break of a few years, Rangers entered their first team in the Berwick Charity Cup, the old Short Cup, and were drawn against Seaside Rovers in the semi-final tie. The meeting of these two teams brought back memories of an old rivalry to the match, and the locals knew it was going to be a bit of a dogfight. The Spittal side, however, had not had a set team for a while and were a bit rusty to say the least. Rovers held their own for a while before Rangers took control and won 3-1 with ease.

Owing to other attractions in the town, and in hope of a better gate, the Berwick Charity Cup Final, against Tweedside United, had been held over until April 8th. Rangers seized control from the start and soon ran up the goals to win 4-0.

The Shielfield Cup was the last of the season's cup competitions. In the first round, Rangers faced Tweedside United, and it was evident from the start that there was to be as little friendliness as possible. However, there was some good football played between "bouts" in a match where the referee rarely assumed authority, and as far as could be seen, prayed for the finish of the game, which Rangers won 2-0.

In the semi-final, Rangers met the KOSB Depot team in a hard-fought game from beginning to end. Only a scrambled fourth-minute goal by Berwick's Brodie separated the two sides at full time at which point the Borderers registered a protest on the ground markings. The committee upheld their protest, and a replay was ordered.

The two teams met in the replay just a day before the final was due to be played. The Borderers fought hard and led until the final minute when they lost a player due to injury. Rangers grabbed their chance and scored twice as the match was lost and won in less than a minute.

Twenty-four hours later, Rangers took on Tweedside Albion in the final. Hard-fought games seemed to be the rule in this competition, though nobody expected that the Tweedsiders would take much wiping out at the hands of the Rangers. However, the hard tussle of the previous night had taken its toll and the game ended in a 1-1 draw with neither side getting the better of each other.

The replay, played early the following day, was a disappointing affair. Tweedside Albion could only muster a scratch side, and three games in three days seemed to do Rangers no harm this time, with a goal in each half giving them a 2-0 victory and their second cup and final success to round off the season.

Results
Date C V Opposition Res i
Oct 22 F A Duns L 0-5
29 F H Coldstream W 6-0
Nov 5 F H Tweedside Albion W 8-2
19 F A Coldstream W 2-1
26 NMC 1 H Tweedside Albion W 1-0
Dec 3 NMC 1R H Tweedside Albion W 4-0
17 NMC 2 H Waterford United W-S
31 NSC 2 H Prudhoe L 0-2
Jan 2 F H Central Athletic W 10-0
7 NMC 3 H Ashington L 3-4
14 F H Kelso L 1-2
Feb 11 F H Alnwick United W 2-1
18 F H Tweedside Albion L 1-3
25 BCC SF N Seaside Rovers W 3-1
Apr 8 BCC F N Tweedside United W 4-0
15 SFC 1 N Tweedside United W 2-0
22 SFC SF N KOSB Depot W 1-0
27 SFC SFR N KOSB Depot W 2-1
28 SFC F N Tweedside Albion D 1-1
29 SFC FR N Tweedside Albion W 2-0
Appearances & Goals
F NMC NSC BCC SFC
Player A G A G A G A G A G
Andrew Bell   1      
Tom Brodie 1 3 3 2 1
George Bryson 1 1
Ronnie Campbell 1
William Clark 1 2
Thomas Cochrane 1 3
Ralph Davidson 1
George Dixon 1
John Douglas 1
Robert Grieve 3
Francis Holland 1
Eddie Hope 1
James King 1
William McFarlane 1 1 1
Richard Murphy 2 1
Alex Ogilvie 2
Robert Patterson 1
David Redfearn 1 1
John Renwick 1 2
John Ring 1
Robert Robertson 1 3 1
Tom Roughead 1 1 3 1
Tommy Smith 1
Thomas Straughan 3 1
Alex Virtue 1
Andrew Weatherhead 2 1
Number of players used: 26