Shielfield Park, Berwick Upon Tweed
Saturday, 20th October 2018
Berwick Rangers v Gretna 2008
Struggling near the foot of SPFL League Two Berwick Rangers are in dire straits once again. With a new manager fresh in the door and bringing the walk of life to the dressing room, the new boss has a tough task at hand to turnaround the fortunes of the Berwickshire team.
Only lowly Albion Rovers are below them at the bottom of the league.
Joining as coach is Johnny Harvey who joined from EoSFL Midlothian based side Penicuik Athletic. A young coach at only 36 years of age he is however a curious choice given the failure of Robbie Horn in the role; another coach who had joined from the Junior football ranks following prolonged success with Bonnyrigg Rose. Harvey faces having to use his experience in the Junior set up within the more cut throat world of the senior SPFL League Two. Following his successes with Edinburgh United, Haddington Athletic and most recently with Penicuik Athletic, Harvey faces the challenge of lifting a side who are conceeding goals each week and players who are leaving Shielfield almost monthly.
If Berwick Rangers are in ‘crisis’ then Gretna are a club who could tell them all about the meaning of the word. From the highs of a Scottish Cup Final appearance in 2006 the club quickly decended into bankruptcy and liquidation in 2008. As a result of this fall from grace Gretna FC 2008 was founded in 2008. Curiously while Gretna 2008 claim not to be a direct continuation of the old club being as they state ‘under a completely different management and set-up’ this may just be for legal reasons.
The current side have the same logo as the old club and play football at the same ground as the older side did. They are therefore effectively a continuation of the side that folded with Lowland League games still being played at Raydale Park in the tiny Scottish village more known for Gretna Green.
The culture of the older Gretna club continues in the form of the current management team. Davie Irons a former Gretna player is once again the Gretna manager just as he was when the club folded in 2008. This time he joined in August 2017 from nearby Carlisle United a club for whom he had been the assistant manager.
It is often noted in football circles that Dens Park and Tannadice (the homes of Dundee FC and Dundee United) are the closest in terms of location in Scottish football circles.
However, just outside or indeed ‘joined’ onto the back of Shielfield Park sits another ground in Old Shielfield Park. This ground is used by another football team Tweedmouth Rangers who play in the East of Scotland Football league; a football set up in which Berwick Rangers originally played.
Then an East of Scotland side “Old” Shielfield Park had been home to Berwick Rangers FC. But the club had ambitions of full Scottish Football League membership thanks to rebuffs from the English football system. In the 1950’s the town council leased six acres of ground next to ‘Old Shielfield’ – and it was on this land on which ‘New Shielfield’ arose.
The original surface at New Shielfield was laid thanks to grass being taken from the surrounding area of the old pitch at Old Shielfield.
In terms of supporter infrastructure a grandstand was purchased for the sum of £400 from Bradford City.
Since the 1950’s Berwick Rangers have been members of the Scottish Football league system. During the 1960’s extensive work took place on the dressing rooms, covered terracing and club offices. It was 1971-72 before eight floodlight pylons, each standing 50 feet high and at a cost of £6,325, were finally installed.
The first match to be played under the new lights was on Wednesday 20th September 1972 when St Mirren defeated Berwick Rangers 1-0.
The subsequent years have seen success and strife in equal measure at the Shielfield we know today. While the other ‘Rangers; were beaten in the 1960’s, Championship titles have also been added but these have often been followed immediately afterwards by relegation.
With home attendences on the low side (many locals in the sizeable town choose to follow Newcastle United) money doesn’t come into club coffers for nothing and financial problems have never been far away. Moreover, despite the purchase of stand seats from the old Roker Park home of Sunderland in 1997, redevelopment of the ground has left it piecemeal and ramshackle in appearance. Multiple uses across speedway, greyhound racing and football stadium legislation have left ‘New’ Shielfield a rather untidy ground compared to the more simple appearance of ‘Old’ Shielfield next door.
It was to be a successful start at Berwick Rangers for the new manager Johnny Harvey. Paul Willis had given the home fans something to cheer when he put the home side ahead in this Scottish Cup tie on 38 minutes. After the half time break a second goal was added by Cedwyn Scott with Willis getting his second and Berwick’s third a minute later.
In was only when 0-3 down that Gretna came back into proceedings but only a Jamie Hope strike late on gave Gretna any hope of a comeback. Despite a number of chances for the visitors in the closing minutes the tie ended 3-1 to the home side with Berwick progressing.
With a new manager in place and renewed optimism in the air the home fans trickled out of the ramshackle ground hopeful of a kind draw in the 3rd round and the future prospect of a plum financial tie in the 4th round (when the senior SPL clubs join the draw).
As it turned out East Fife will be the visitors come November in a tie ‘Rangers will hope to win.
Berwick Rangers: 1. Sean Brannan, 3. Jordon Orru, 4. Declan O’Kane, 5. Robert Wilson (captain), 8. Christopher Hamilton 10. Paul Willis, 11. Gary Phillips, 15. Cedwyn Scott, 16. Daryl Healy, 19. John Neill, 21. Ross Brown SUBS: 17. Greg Hurst, 18. Jack Ogilvie, 14. Sean Murphy, 9. Aaron Murrell, 20. Danny Fletcher, 22. Aidan McIlduff
Goalscorers: Willis (38, 52) Scott (51)
Gretna 2008: 1. Jim Atkinson, 2. Jamie Hope, 3. Jake Smith, 4. Jack Hunter, 5. Daniel Michael Wadge, 6. Malcolm Holliday, 7. Ashley Kelly, 8. Liam Studholme, 9. Kevin Connelly (captain), 10. Kingsley Grandison, 11. Marc Messenger SUBS: 12. Thomas Pardini, 15. Bryan James Gilfillan, 17. Daniel Smales
Goalscorers: Hope (87)
Officials: David Dickinson (Referee) Ivan Stankovic (AR1) Michael Addy (AR2)