Only the ones among you who are rather along in age may recall the surely most memorable clash of our Rangers with their namesake from Berwick. At least for the Berwick supporters that is. It was 1967 and the first round of the Challenge Cup at Shielfield Park. Following an effort led by The Gers to expell five teams from the league, amongst them Berwick, unraveled what would become known as one of the biggest upsets in Scottish football.
The underdog beat the Bears 1-0 in front of a record attendance, causing their first First Round elimination in 30 years. In the wake of this very game Sandy Jardine was drafted from the reserve to join the first team, famously playing 674 games over his 15 years at the club. But enough of the antiques already. The lads will do anything to stop history from repeating itself and chances aren’t too bad they will succeed in doing so this time.
The stuttering start was a done deal for Berwick after a 3-2 loss to Annan Athletic last Saturday. This must have come as a shocker, as Berwick went into half- time with a two goal cushion which eventually vanished when Annan needed nothing more than five minutes to score 3 and take the win. That leaves the Rangers second to last with only one point after two games played. The numbers aren’t adding up so far for the team from Northumberland. Being relegated to Third Division in 2005, the club is no stranger to the competition. The young roster built up by manager Ian Little was off to a bad start and are looking to change all that with a little bit of extra motivation against our side.
But let’s talk Bears, shall we? The last match in Falkirk left us all rather hopeful. Even though only being a Challenge Cup match, it may have been a useful indicator to where the team stands this year. With 23 of first team players leaving, facing a team two divisions above ours (at least on paper), the Gers managed to walk off triumphantly and dish out a fair performance all along. This tie was a hard one for sure, however I predict the next one to become fairly easier.
With Andy Little scoring the only goal of the day against Falkirk and before that finding the back of the net against Brechin City, Peterhead and East Stirlingshire this year, he should be certain to play. This guy’s on a streak, he constantly plows the pitch and I’m anxious to see if he keeps doing his thing the way he does right now. Ian Black was probably the most notable player against Falkirk though, getting better as the game went on so he should be on in Shielfield Park, hopefully being able to sustain good efforts. With Goian off to Spezia, there could be a spot opening for newly acquired French defender Sebastien Faure. Hard to say how that’ll pan out, he’s a fresh lad who’s played few lately due to a broken toe he suffered back in 2011. Despite that he’s learned his trade at one of Europe's Top 10 Clubs and is a French Under- 20 regular. That should guarantee some quality.
Also I’d be happy to see youngsters McKay and MacLeod have a go Sunday. With a good last match against a strong side under their belt they should make an even more positive impression against Berwick. The roster overall still seems to be a bit thin for a long year and the demand to throw in a few more reinforcements is legitimate. However, Ally seems to be working on it and I’m excited to see if he’s able to bring in a couple of interesting new faces. Apparantly Gomis is a candidate, would be an interesting transfer certainly.
The Gers still don’t seem to be running on full steam at this point, even though the last match was an important win and the team shows a lot of effort to improve itself as the season carries on. If they follow up in the tie with Berwick, I have no doubt we’re winning it, even though Berwick will be throwing in all they have to offer. After all, it’s still special to play against the Rangers FC for any team.
Possible team (4-3-3):