Saturday 26th June 2021 ko 14:00
TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 10 (11, 17, 22, 32, 35, 46, Friere 49 60 80, 82)
BERWICK COLTS 0
Att c80 at Old Shielfield, Berwick-upon-Tweed
The fun of these next two games is the way they do make a mockery of attempts to pigeonhole them. This Saturday out was built around taking in a Berwick Charities Cup game at the Stanks, a competition that I’d argue fits in the 2020/21 season, but its 18.30 kickoff allowed for this pre-season friendly beforehand. That presumably would be precursor to the 2021/22 season, so if you took that train of thought far enough you’d think we started next season before we finished the last!
It’s well known that Berwick Rangers are the English club playing in the Scottish pyramid, but the geography of Berwick is such that we watched two other clubs who are in a similar position. Tweedmouth Rangers play in the 1st Division, Conference A of the East of Scotland League and Berwick Colts play in the Border Amateur League, B Division. But it’s Rangers home at Old Shielfield that is of the greatest interest.
You’ll find the place tucked away behind Berwick Rangers and Berwick Bandits speedway’s home at Shielfield Park. The ground’s address in Etal Road actually brings you to the gap between the houses (now blocked) that used to be the entrance, nowadays you enter the ground via the back straight of the main stadium. And yes, Berwick Rangers did used to play at Old Sheilfield in the middle of a rather peripatetic phase which ended in 1955 when they moved to Shielfield Park. The result is one of the shortest distances between two separate enclosed grounds there is, can anyone come up with any that are closer?
The current Tweedmouth Rangers club originated in 2010 and signed a agreement with Berwick Rangers Supporters Club who own both Shielfield and Old Shielfield to play there. What they took on was a functionally derelict patch of overgrown waste ground and what you see now is a testament to chairman Colin Pike and his team of volunteers. Out of nothing they’ve created a ground that is fit for all of the non-league game in Scotland, and being in Berwick there is the curiosity of their existence that from 2010-16 they were members of the ENGLISH North Northumberland League!
Maybe though you noticed, that both halves of GroundhopUK, ie Chris Berezai and I were there, and yes, we do organise a groundhop for the East of Scotland League! So what does that mean for Tweedmouth? The answer is yes, we will be visiting but we don’t quite know when! It won’t be during our next trip north for the first weekend of this October, that will be to visit the clubs on the Scottish Hop scheduled for March 2020 that got cancelled due to Covid.
More than that I just don’t know. Colin certainly was responsible for the best pitch for a club’s inclusion since Jackie Cullen’s to get Berinsfield included on the 2013 North Berkshire Hop! His and our lives have been made much easier with Berwick Rangers dropping into the Lowland League, and the likes of Haddington and Dunbar transferring to the EoSFL from the Juniors. There are no lack of clubs now we make use to make up a 3, or 4 game day. And Colin and his club are the kind of people I’d like to return to visit- with another 200 or so patrons! It will happen Colin, I promise!
It was a convivial afternoon fuelled in no small part by the excellent pies (Scotch and Quiche versions available) and regular forays to the tea bar. I don’t think anyone expected a close game, and we certainly didn’t get one- Rangers rolled in goals on a regular basis but as a “Bounce” friendly the point was to gain fitness more than anything else.
It was a visit that was far more satisfying then I’d expected, and I’ve no doubt Colin was responsible for that. There is so much here to enjoy, whether its the sense of history, or a club clearly on the rise. It’s not usual for a groundhopper to look forward to a revisit, but it will be great fun bring the Scottish hop to this English outpost.