A Club History

Berwick Rangers Football Club was formed at a meeting held on 7th January 1884 after a New Year’s Day friendly match, played in the town between a team of millworkers from Dunbar and railway clerks from Newcastle, so impressed the local youths.

After several years playing successfully in local and north Northumberland league football, when in one season they won the Northumberland FA Minor Cup and the North Northumberland League, without losing a single match, they set their sights at a higher level. They applied and were elected to the Northumberland League. However, after only one season they were “asked” to resign as the other clubs were refusing to travel so far north due to the travelling expense. After applying unsuccessfully for admission to the Northern Alliance League, they turned their loyalties north and gained membership of the Eastern League, which included teams from the Edinburgh and the east of Scotland area, for season 1905/06 and with it came membership of the Scottish Football Association.

After the demise of the Eastern League the club played the Border Amateur and Border Senior leagues before becoming a founding member of the East of Scotland League in 1923/24. During the following years they qualified for the Scottish FA Cup proper on nine occasions; won the East of Scotland League twice; ESFA Qualifying Cup five times; ESFA Consolation Cup twice; Border Cup twice; King Cup twice and in 1947/48 they won the SFA Qualifying Cup South when they defeated Stranraer 3-2.

In 1950 the club declared its ambition to become a senior club with Scottish Football League status a feat they achieved, after much canvassing, with election to the C Division in 1951/52. During their C Division tenure they became known as cup giant-killers with victories over several leading clubs, including Ayr United and Dundee on their way to a Scottish Cup quarter-final meeting with the mighty Rangers in 1953/54.

In 1954 the club moved into “New” Shielfield Park, a stone’s through from their old ground and built entirely by their supporters. The club’s ambitions gained momentum and the demise of the C Division gave the Wee Rangers a step up to the second tier of the Scottish League in 1955/56.

In 1963/64 the club reached the semi-final of the League Cup only to be beaten 3-1 by Rangers. A team with which they were soon to become renowned. In late 1964 Rangers tabled a motion that the league be reorganised which would have resulted in five clubs, including Berwick Rangers, being expelled from the league. The motion was successfully fought through the courts and the Rangers of Berwick exacted their revenge on 28th January 1967 when they defeated the Glasgow Rangers 1-0 in the first round of the Scottish Cup, a feat still regarded by many as the greatest ever Scottish Cup shock.

The arrival of Dave Smith as player/manager in October 1976 heralded the start of a new era. After just missing out on promotion in 1977/78 the club finished the 1978/79 season as champions – their first silverware since joining the Scottish Football League. Their stay in the First Division was short-lived, however, as they tumbled back in to the Second Division after just two seasons.

A period of decline followed with the club twice near extinction during the eighties and early nineties. However, the club fought back and finished Second Division runners-up in 1993/94 only to be denied promotion due to league reconstruction.

Three seasons later they were back in the bottom rung of the Scottish Football League ladder and stayed there until winning promotion as Third Division runners-up in 1999/00.

After five seasons in the Second Division the club was relegated and a swift return cruelly denied due to the newly introduced play-off system. Rangers finished on equal points with champions Cowdenbeath at the end of the 2005/06 season, but had a much inferior goal difference, and were beaten 5-2 on aggregate by Alloa Athletic in the play-off final.

Rangers put the disappointment behind them and battled their way to win the Third Division Championship 2006/07 outright and with it automatic promotion; however, during one of the worst playing seasons in the club’s history they ended back where they started after only one season.