Rangers were busy in the transfer market during the close season and started the new campaign with a good deal of confidence. They had secured the services of Walker (ex-Peebles Rovers); Telfer (ex-Tranent Juniors); Donoghue (ex-Leith Athletic) and Penicuick Athletic duo Sherlaw and the free-scoring Eyemouth-born David Dougal.
The East of Scotland League was reduced to eleven teams after Edinburgh University followed Murrayfield Amateurs into the Lothian Amateur League; Peebles YMCA reverted to juvenile status, and with Leith Amateurs disbanding there was to be no Edinburgh clubs in the League this season.
Rangers opened the season on August 12th with a friendly against the Militia, a team of serving KOSB soldiers based at the Barracks, who had impressed with several good displays on The Stanks. However, their display at Shielfield Park was not a patch on that previously witnessed. Both teams sussed each other out in the early stages before Dougal opened the scoring for Berwick with a picture goal. Four minutes later, Dougal was unlucky when in a goalmouth melee he tried to back-heel the ball into the net. The Militia sent over several good crosses, but their forwards were well watched by the Berwick defence. Dougal, who was by far the best player on the field, engineered his second goal when he played a one-two with Walker and flashed the return past Airey. In a subsequent attack, Airey made a splendid save from a Dougal snapshot. At the other end, Miller saved well to prevent a shot from Welsh entering the net. The military gave a better display in the second half, but their efforts were a little too late. For the most part, Rangers were on top and Dougal's third goal was the best of the match. A waist high cross was sent over by Walker which Dougal met with his head after bending. Airey manged to touch the ball, but that was all. Towards the finish, Welsh latched onto a cross from the right and drove a hard shot out of Miller's reach to score the Militia's only goal.
Penicuik Athletic realised their mistake in releasing David Dougal when he scored a hat trick against them when Rangers travelled to their Midlothian ground for the opening game of the East of Scotland League. Penicuik seemed to lack the punch they had last season and it soon became obvious that Rangers won because they had Dougal in their side and Penicuik lost because he was in opposition against them. The early play was in Berwick's favour, but poor finishing let them down. Penicuik upped their game and took the lead when Tams headed a well-placed corner past Straffen. A few minutes later, the Berwick keeper pulled off a tremendous save to stop the home side from extending their lead. Rangers gradually forced their way back into the game and Dougal made the best of an opening to equalise. Berwick kept up the pressure, but they could not force the ball home. However, just on half time, Dougal was well placed in front of goal when he accepted another chance and this time put Rangers ahead. The second half opened with midfield exchanges, but as the half wore on the home side began to fade and Rangers became the dominant force. Against the run of play, Mollison headed Penicuik level; it was their last real chance. Dougal showed the home defence a clean pair of heels before whipping a shot past Liberton to restore the lead and Walker followed with another a few minutes later to give Rangers a well-deserved 4-2 win.
Thunder clouds hung overhead, and war clouds lurked in the minds of the spectators assembled at Shielfield Park for the East of Scotland League encounter with Vale of Leithen. A thick blanket of mist blotted out the surrounding landscape and made conditions so depressing that it came as no surprise that the game opened in a lacklustre fashion. However, the game finished with a bang as Berwick trounced Vale by five goals to nil. An immediate reminder of the international situation was the absence of Chic Robinson, who the previous day had been called up. Cunningham stepped up to fill the breach and Johnston Graham took the left back position. The game opened on quiet lines with neither side showing much enthusiasm. Vale were first to really press but midway through the half Berwick took the lead against the run of play when Sherlaw's scuffed shot deceived the visiting defenders and entered the net at the extreme left corner. Two brilliant saves by Robertson from Dougal and Donoghue kept Rangers from increasing the lead. However, from Walker's well-placed corner, Dougal headed home Berwick's second. Vale replied with Wilson skimming the crossbar with a snapshot after Rangers had failed to clear their lines. Just before half time, Dougal missed a gilt-edged opportunity when he slipped on the point of shooting and Murray cleared. Within a minute of the restart Rangers went further ahead when Dougal cut in from the right, slipped between the backs, and sent a low shot past the outstretched hands of Robertson. Vale had a brief spell of pressure, but Straffen was equal to the cause. Returning to the attack, Rangers gave Robertson a few anxious moments. From fully 40 yards, Sherlaw sent in a terrific shot which struck the underside of the crossbar and rebounded onto the goal-line before bouncing back into play. In the ensuing melee, a penalty was awarded to Berwick for a reason only the referee knew. However, Sherlaw took the spot kick but was well wide of the mark. Sherlaw was destined to be the scorer of Rangers' fourth. When Dougal found himself awkwardly placed, he slipped the ball through to Sherlaw who, with a left-footed drive, sent the ball spinning out of Robertson's reach. As the game wore on, the Berwick forwards became more effective and Vale's less. Dougal got his hat trick and Berwick's fifth from a penalty. Carrick and Dougal were chasing the ball when Carrick obstructed him. The referee pointed to the spot and Dougal slipped the spot kick past Robertson, who was helpless to save it.
Football across the country came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of hostilities on September 1st. Although there was not an outright ban on footballing activities, it would have been doubtful if many matches would have been played as several clubs had a long list of players called up to serve their country and in view of the Government's recommendation, the East of Scotland League was suspended until further notice.
Saturday 12 August 1939
Berwick Rangers 3-1 Militia
Berwick Rangers: Dougal 3
W Miller, A Telfer, D Sherlaw, W Hope, G Hope, C Robinson, J Davidson, Hope, D Dougal, P Donoghue,
D Airey, J Hume, McAdam, A McLaughlin, T Gray, H Sullivan, T Henderson, A Spiers, J Ramsay, J Little,
Saturday 19 August 1939
East of Scotland League
Penicuik Athletic 2-4 Berwick Rangers
Berwick Rangers: Dougal 3, Walker
J Straffen, A Telfer,W Cunningham, W Hope, G Hope, C Robinson, P Donoghue, D Sherlaw, D Dougal,
Penicuik Athletic: Tams, Mollison
J Liberton, McFarlane, T Batchelor, J Dodds, McLeod, G Morris, A Cuthbert, Hogarth, J Tams, A Mollison,
|26||ESL||H||Vale of Leithen||W||5-0||1|
Saturday 26 August 1939
East of Scotland League
Berwick Rangers 5-0 Vale of Leithen
Berwick Rangers: Sherlaw 2, Dougal 3 (1 pen)
J Straffen, A Telfer, J Graham, W Hope, G Hope, W Cunningham, A Greenhorn, P Donoghue, D Dougal,
Vale of Leithen:
K Robertson, J Murray, C Rathie, D Mirtle, R Carrick, A Armstrong, T Wilson, W Stein, W Grant, T Aitken,
|11||Vale of Leithen||2||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||1||0||5||0|
|The East of Scotland League closed down in September 1939 for the duration of the Second World War.|
|William (Bill) Cunningham||2|
|John (Tanner) Davidson||1|
|Charles (Chic) Robinson||1||1|
|Number of players used: 16|