Fifty seasons on from Berwick Rangers’ most famous Cup result, the Black and Gold were humiliated by Lowland League Hawick Royal Albert. It may not have been of the magnitude of Berwick’s 1967 victory over Glasgow Rangers but it was probably the biggest moment yet in the almost seventy year history of the Albert Park club. To rub salt into Rangers’ wounds, former Berwick player Josh Morris scored all three Hawick goals.
After the visitors raced into a two goal lead, Rangers quickly pulled one back raising hopes they would settle and go on to take control. Frustrated by some sturdy defence and Hawick’s offside trap plus their own tendency to push forward balls just too long for anyone to reach, they were still 2-1 down at half time.
As for the second 45 minutes, most of them were played inside the royal blue half. Again, Rangers frequently fell foul of the offside trap with the Hawick backline now even further forward. However, most of all, Berwick were left to rue a tally of missed chances including a couple of headers from practically on the goal line.
The first goal came after barely three minutes. Michael McKenna sent a pass back to no one in particular forcing keeper Kevin Walker to come out to clear it. His kick was charged down and the ball ran towards Morris who carefully rolled it into the empty net.
The Albert striker was one of three ex-Berwick men in the team along with Ewan Saunderson and Shaun Meikle. Amongst the crowd was Mark Lamb who signed all three when he was the Reserves’ coach. He witnessed Meikle set up the second goal in the 10th minute with a low cross from the right which Morris slotted with ease.
Rangers replied four minutes later. The ball crisscrossed the box courtesy of Brian Martin from the left and Graeme Beveridge from the right before McKenna drilled it home from 12 yards.
Shaun Spence stopped Jordyn Sheerin in his tracks with a great tackle inside the box. So did Saunderson on McKenna a little later, this one after Darren Lavery twice turned Spence only to misdirect a weak shot to the right of Kyle Rankin’s goal. No such problem for Morris in the 37th minute. When put through by McInally, Josh confidently nutmegged Walker as he finished from a tight angle.
Reacting to the seriousness of the situation, Rangers’ boss John Coughlin pulled off young players Jordan Orru and Ben Stirling bringing on Lee Hamilton and Greg Rutherford. The half finished with Sheerin blasting the ball across the goal from the left when it looked just as easy to score.
Hawick opened the second period with a flurry. Walker dived to punch away a shot from James McPartlin and another from Hamish Hunter was cleared off the line. After that, it was pretty much all Berwick but it took them until the 67th minute to score again. Before that, two yards in front of goal, Sheerin managed to head Steven Thomson’s cross over the bar. Rutherford showed how it should be done, nodding the ball in from roughly the same spot to round off one of Rangers’ better moves. He can have gained little satisfaction from scoring on his debut on such a miserable day for the club. Anyway, he soon missed with another header after Lavery headed the ball on to him.
The next significant pass to the new boy was a lob from Thomson. With only Rankin ahead of him, Rutherford lobbed even higher and over.
Development team striker Daniel Watt was brought on for Sheerin but with three minutes remaining, it was something of a futile gesture. Hawick cleared a late corner as far as Beveridge who returned the ball to Lavery inside the area but again he steered it well wide of the post.
On the final whistle, the Hawick team showed the true meaning of ‘delight’ celebrating on the pitch whilst taking a standing ovation from their supporters. Some of them will have memories of the Albert being a rock bottom East of Scotland League team just a few seasons back.
On Radio Borders manager Dean Shanks said his team of tired bodies had stuck to the game plan. It was difficult to see what Berwick’s was. On the same station, Coughlin said he was considering his future indicating that resignation was a strong possibility.
Berwick Rangers: Walker, Beveridge, Orru (Hamilton 40), Notman, Wilson, Martin (capt.), Thomson, Stirling (Rutherford 40), McKenna, Lavery, Sheerin (Watt 87)
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.