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1899/00: Maximum Points

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Berwick Rangers decided to join the North Northumberland League, now in its second season, in a bid to rouse the football spirit in the town once more. With attendances dwindling, the committee thought that league fixtures, with points at stake, would lure supporters back to Shielfield.

September

There seemed to be a great deal more enthusiasm within the team, when a strong, but over-eager Kelso side visited Shielfield for a warm-up friendly. Weatherhead opened the scoring with a superb strike when he caught the ball on his instep before driving it out of the keeper's reach to put Berwick ahead and Drysdale doubled the score shortly before Kelso pulled a goal back. There was no time wasted or love lost in the early second half exchanges and one or two incidents raised the ire of the crowd. Bit by bit Rangers assumed the upper hand and Brodie scored a peach of a goal from an inch perfect pass to extend Berwick's lead. The visitors scored a late second, but Rangers held on.

October

Rangers were due to open their North Northumberland League campaign on September 30th at Alnwick United, but their ground was deemed unplayable, and the game was delayed until the following week. The opening forty-five, against last season's NNL champions, was evenly contested, and the teams crossed over with one goal apiece. Alnwick had the disadvantage of playing the second half a man short due to injury and Rangers made them suffer the consequences as goals from Brodie, Croll, Cochrane and Grieve gave the Berwickers a 5-1 win and two valuable league points.

Rangers were by no means at full strength when they outclassed Coldstream in a friendly encounter. The opening exchanges were even but play eventually settled in the visitor's half and two goals from Smith, one a header and the other a superbly struck shot, soon had Berwick in complete command. Brodie was responsible for a third before the teams crossed over. Coldstream started the second half strongly but, when Brodie hit the crossbar, they knew that Berwick were far from finished in the scoring department. Weatherhead scored a fourth following a Murphy corner before Cockburn found the net for Coldstream with a long, high shot. Rangers replied when Brodie shot home from an inch-perfect Smith cross. A sixth goal was credited to Smith, and the keeper, following a corner, fumbled in a seventh goal.

Longhoughton could not fulfil their NNL fixture on October 28th due to team raising difficulties and rather than vegetate for another seven days Rangers sent a scratch eleven to Kelso. However, Rangers' good start to the season was soon undone as Kelso won 2-0.

November

In the case of Longhoughton's non fulfilment of their fixture, the North Northumberland League committee decided that they should pay Berwick Rangers expenses claimed of 7s 6d for printing bills, 2s 6d for posting bills and sixpence for a telegram. However, the committee declined to allow the £1 5s 6d claim for gate money, as Rangers would receive "a gate" when Longhoughton eventually played at Berwick on November 11th. Longhoughton resigned from the NNL before the fixture date and a friendly match with Tweedside Albion filled the vacant afternoon. Rangers did most of the early pressing and scored four times; opinion was very much against at least two of these, but still they counted. After the interval, there was a change of attack and for a while the Tweedsiders looked like rubbing off the score. However, despite holding Rangers back they could only score twice.

Fog marred Rangers' NNL fixture at North Sunderland, but still they managed to secure another two league points with an impressive 4-1 win, albeit after a very shaky start. North Sunderland took the lead on 20 minutes after a misunderstanding between the Berwick backs. However, within ten minutes Patterson had slipped in the equaliser. Patterson then gave Rangers the advantage when he raced away on his own and popped in a second. Smith thought he had added a third, but the referee disallowed it for offside. The second half was almost through before any further business was done when Murphy hit home a thunderous shot, and later notched number four to seal a comfortable win and put Rangers second in the table.

Rangers were ill-advised in putting out a weaker team than usual against a strong Duns side, even with home advantage. Berwick gave a poor display from the start and, despite forcing matters for a twenty-minute spell in the second half, their play was spiritless and disjointed. Duns had Berwick penned in their own half for the opening quarter before Cowe gave them a deserved lead. The visitors continued to have the better of the exchanges and Holland added a second shortly before half-time. It was fully expected that Rangers would wipe off the arrears in the second half, but the Duns keeper was in excellent form and kept the Rangers at bay, including a penalty save. However, Duns had the final say. Duff was unlucky when he hit the home upright with a tremendous shot before scoring a well-worked goal to place his team three up, a scoreline they fully deserved.

December

It appeared that Rangers had still not learnt their lesson when they were beaten 3-2 at Coldstream seven days later, although there were a few curious refereeing decisions to consider. The first half was evenly contested with the only goal falling to Coldstream. Due to the late arrival of the Berwick team, no time was wasted at the interval, and the teams went back into action immediately. Berwick's hopes of a quick comeback were all but dashed, after a few minutes, when the referee allowed Coldstream an absurd offside goal, and worse followed. A foul was given against the Rangers and, from the indirect free kick given, the ball was sent into the net without another player touching it. Again, the referee allowed it, but Rangers had not yet lost hope. A few minutes later Smith scored their first goal and, shortly after, he blasted in a second. Things were looking brighter as they battled hard for the equaliser, but then the referee blew his whistle a full five minutes short of time and ran for the cover of the pavilion!

Rangers received better treatment with a return to league business and a visit to Shielfield of Alnwick Percy Rovers, regarded as one of the better teams in the league, in front of a large crowd. Play had barely started when Rovers hit the upright with their first attack and Brown bundled in the rebound. Alnwick's passing was quick and accurate, and it took time for the Rangers to adjust to the pace. Murphy and Smith had both missed easy chances before Grieve equalised on the half-hour following a corner. Rangers kept the pressure on the visitor's goal and Weatherhead put Berwick in front just before the interval. Playing downhill in the second half, Rovers kept Berwick in defensive mode for most of the half. However, a late solo run by Grieve gave Rangers a third, which killed the game as a contest, and the same player added a fourth just as the final whistle blew.

Three wins out of three, and the only unbeaten team in the league, Rangers went into the Northumberland Minor Cup first round match with Amble Blue Star brimming with confidence. The match took place at a snow covered Shielfield just a week after the 4-1 defeat of Alnwick Percy Rovers, but this time a sparse crowd of only 100 spectators watched the event. Playing true to the form of recent weeks, Rangers duly conceded a goal in the first minute of play. After the wake-up call, they again forced the pace, equalising midway through the half with Patterson netting a fine centre from Campbell. Both teams had chances to edge in front with Amble the going the closest when Henry ran through and struck the cross bar just before half-time. In the second half Rangers fell away badly but Amble failed to take advantage. With time fast running out, Berwick bundled the goalkeeper, several Amble players, and the ball, they claimed, into the net. The referee, however, ruled against the ball crossing the line and the match ended a draw.

Rangers scratched to Amble in the replay and supporters wondered why. The truth, however, was not far to seek. A statement in the local press stated: The team was not being supported as the committee thought it should, and you cannot always be tearing the empty bottom out of the club's purse. What was the point of further cup progression if the footballing public was not going to support it?

The Christmas holiday fixture at Shielfield was one of the best witnessed for many a year. Rutherford College were the visitors but arrived two men short; Tait and Campbell of Tweedside Albion filled their lines and made a useful contribution. Rangers wasted no time and attacked relentlessly from the start. The Students were lucky not be a goal down in the first few minutes when Rangers  hit  the  crossbar  with the keeper beaten and well off his line.

This whetted the appetite of the home attack and Weatherhead found the net after a free-for-all around the post. Campbell then went close before the Berwick attack cooled. The visitors took their chance, and after some well-directed passing, they ran the ball straight through the home defence to level the score. However, Rangers won a succession of corners from which Murphy found his range and notched a second goal. There was no festive spirit shown when Murphy scored again minutes later and then Smith put a thunderous shot beyond the keeper for number four. The visitors, however, were thought more than capable of wiping off the slate when the ends were changed and they did not disappoint; within five minutes of the restart, they had the ball firmly in the back of the net. However, Rangers maintained their three-goal advantage when Smith sent over a perfect cross for Campbell to score number five before the College added a late but deserved third.

January

Tweedside Albion, whom Berwick Rangers would have met in the Minor Cup had they not scratched to Amble, opened the new century at Shielfield with a friendly match on New Year's Day. Rangers came to Albion's rescue when their match with a team from Dunbar failed to materialise and were a good deal under strength. Despite this, the match was even and ended a no-score draw.

Berwick Rangers topped the league table, with maximum points, after securing a 3-2 win over Alnwick United. Rangers had several players on the sick list, forcing them to play with a patched-up eleven. The first half was even, but Rangers were the first to score when Cochrane put through with a low shot. Luck was in Berwick's favour when the referee, who was in an unsighted position, allowed a second goal to stand and at the interval they held a comfortable two-goal lead against an Alnwick side who, had had several good attempts, but never managed to breakthrough. Rangers had the best of matters for a considerable time after the interval with Alnwick playing like a beaten team. A third goal made the Rangers cocky and few thought Alnwick would dare to score. However, there was a surprise in store. With time drawing near, Alnwick scored. This much-needed encouragement did them the power of good and a second was soon added. With only a goal now between them, the closing minutes were desperately fought, with Rangers scraping through by the narrowest of margins.

Rangers travelled to Duns intent on revenge for their home defeat earlier in the season. Duns, on the other hand, had different ideas and took a deserved lead after only ten minutes' play. This evidently stirred the Rangers. A smart run by Campbell ended with his stunning shot grazing the crossbar, and they eventually equalised when Murphy hit a low shot into the net just before half-time. On the restart, a sound performance by the Duns defence kept the Berwick forwards out. However, Rangers were caught on the break. Ogilvie fisted out, but not far enough, and the ball was slotted home. Despite long periods of possession, Rangers could not score again, and Duns held on to win.

Back to league duty, Rangers headed south to meet Percy Rovers at Alnwick. Berwick won the toss and set Rovers to play against the bright sun. Campbell opened the scoring midway through the half and, a few minutes later, Weatherhead added a second from a well-taken corner. Alnwick looked like scoring after the turn-a-round, but they were driven back by a sturdy Rangers defence and a beautiful centre from Murphy gave Cochrane the perfect opening to score the third. It somewhat disheartened the Rovers side and, when the final whistle blew, Rangers were still pressing hard despite the 3-0 scoreline.

Next up, Rangers were given the easy task of beating Bamburgh Castle, a team of beginners, who were destined to win the wooden spoon in the league. There were calls for a standard to be set for league teams; otherwise, spectators were being badly fooled. Rangers managed to beat Bamburgh by eleven clear goals, but it could quite easily have been twenty-four.

March

The Rangers team, seated in a brake drawn by a pair of horses, left the King's Arms Hotel en route for Chatton to play a league encounter. They arrived in good time, but the referee had not, despite leaving Amble at 5.30am. The game eventually kicked off approximately fifteen-minutes late, and the Tillsiders gave Berwick, as league leaders, quite a shock when Rough beat Ogilvie from close range. However, Rangers bucked up and, from a scrimmage in the mud, Murphy levelled the score. Murphy and Smith both went close before Charters, with a low drive, gave Berwick the lead. After the interval, it looked as if Tillside would draw level. Twice or thrice, they got within range, but their shooting was not deadly. Smith of the Rangers and Jackson of Tillside were then ordered off the field by the referee for fighting. Tillside fared badly without Jackson; after he left, they seldom crossed the halfway line, and when Campbell scored a third goal, it put the match well out of their reach.

April

No fewer than three Rangers' players were out of action after a league game at the Castle Green, Bamburgh. Smith, who had just recently recovered from a dislocated shoulder, had the other put out. Bell was injured in the knee, and Thompson had an injury to his elbow. The game was rough natured from the start as Bamburgh were anxious to wipe out the stigma of their 11-0 thrashing at Berwick, and it must be said that they succeeded in doing it. Smith scored a fine goal in the 10th minute after beating three of his opponents in quick succession. Bamburgh then hit the crossbar with a wind-assisted effort early in the second half before Campbell centred the ball from which Weatherhead put Rangers further ahead. However, Bamburgh were soon back in the game when their inside-left beat Ogilvie with a high shot. For a while, it took Berwick all their time to keep the home side at bay but they eventually quelled Bamburgh's fire when a defender was forced to put through his own goal and the 3-1 victory guaranteed Berwick Rangers the North Northumberland League Championship with two games remaining.

With the championship already won, a sense of "job done" hung around the club, and a general malaise was evident in the remaining league fixtures. Despite this malaise, Rangers still managed to beat North Sunderland 2-0 in their return fixture without really breaking sweat.

Gosforth Albion, a Newcastle team on tour, took on Berwick Rangers on Easter Saturday at Shielfield. Gosforth scored early in a game where the weather conditions, with a strong prevailing wind, dictated play. Rangers were not long in equalising on the crossover and later, from a penalty, they scored the winning goal.

In their last league fixture of the season, Rangers met bottom-of-the-table Tillside at Shielfield and were lucky to win by the only goal of the match to maintain their one-hundred percent winning record. The Tillsiders put up a creditable fight that totally belied their league position.

A benefit match for North Northumberland League funds between Berwick Rangers, as champions, against the Rest of the League brought the final curtain down on a successful season from a playing point of view, although the standard of opposition left a lot to be desired. The gate of 14s 6d was not of great benefit either. The match ended 6-0 to the Rangers and therefore proved the point: a higher standard was required.

Results
Date C V Opposition Res i
Sep 16 F H Kelso W 3-2
Oct 7 NNL A Alnwick United W 5-1
14 F H Coldstream W 7-1
28 F A Kelso L 0-2
Nov 11 F A Tweedside Albion W 4-2
18 NNL A North Sunderland W 4-1
25 F H Duns L 0-3
Dec 2 F A Coldstream L 2-3
9 NNL H Alnwick Percy Rovers W 4-1
16 NMC 1 H Amble Blue Star D 1-1
23 F H Rutherford College W 5-3
Jan 2 F H Tweedside Albion D 0-0
7 NNL H Alnwick United W 3-2
14 F A Duns L 1-2
21 NNL A Alnwick Percy Rovers W 3-0
28 NNL H Bamburgh Castle W 11-0
Mar 3 NNL A Tillside W 3-1
24 NNL A Bamburgh Castle W 3-1
Apr 7 NNL H North Sunderland W 2-0
14 F H Gosforth Albion W 2-1
21 NNL H Tillside W 1-0
28 F H Rest of the League W 6-0
North Northumberland League
Home Away
Pld W D L F A W D L F A Pts
1 Berwick Rangers 10 5 0 0 21 3 5 0 0 18 4 20
2 Alnwick Percy Rovers 10 3 0 2 10 7 4 0 1 16 7 14
3 Alnwick United 9 3 0 2 23 8 2 0 2 7 7 10
4 Tillside 9 1 0 3 7 8 2 0 3 5 15 6
5 North Sunderland 10 1 1 3 7 11 1 0 4 2 17 5
6 Bamburgh Castle 10 0 0 5 3 16 1 1 3 5 21 3
blank
Longhoughton and Radcliffe resigned.
Appearances & Goals
F NNL NMC
Player A G A G A G
Andrew Bell 5   7   1
Tom Brodie 2 3 1 1
William Brown 3 5 1
Andrew Campbell 2 1 5 2 1
William Charters 1 3 1
Thomas Cochrane 2 7 3 1
Alex Croll 1 2 1
Ralph Davidson 1
George Dixon 1
Jack Drysdale 1 1
James Fife 2
Jimmy Grieve 3 3 5
Gordon Melrose 2 3 1
Richard Murphy 4 3 7 3 1
Alex Ogilvie 2 4
James Ord 1
George Patterson 1 1 2 1 1
John Renwick 4 7 1
Robert Robertson 5 5 1
Tommy Smith 5 6 5 1 1
William Thompson 3 4
Andrew Weatherhead 5 3 7 3 1
James White 1
own goal 1 1
Number of players used: 23