Rovers return? Why ex-players want to revive Spittal

Spittal Rovers in the 1980s
Spittal Rovers in the 1980s

Every football club has good times and bad times, but 2006 proved to be as miserable as it gets for one historic Berwick club in particular.

However, an attempt to revive Spittal Rovers is gathering support – nine years after the club’s demise.

Having lay dormant for quite some time, an eruption of interest has led to a revival sitting on the horizon…

Formed in 1884, just one year after Berwick Rangers, Spittal Rovers latterly flirted with relegation from the Northern Alliance Premier Division.

Relegation in May 2005 saw the club find themselves in their lowest position for over two decades and this culminated in a 122-year history sadly dropping off the footballing map one season later – Scott Agnew scoring what proved to be the final goal of their long existence in a 3-1 home defeat to Wallington at Newfields.

Amid concerns among former players that the standard of the local game has been declining since then, two of them have decided to put their heads together and resuscitate the sleeping giant.

Richard Baxendale and Michael Brown are driving the project forward and have included Dave Buglass, who was long associated with the club before relocating further north, in their plans.

Always passionate about Spittal Rovers after spending the best part of 15 years associated with the club, Buglass is now based in Falkirk and is a fully qualified UEFA B coach who has worked with St Johnstone as a match analyst and coached at Scotland U15 level.

“We feel that the time is right to look at rejuvenating this wonderful club,” said Baxendale.

“It is still close to a lot of people’s hearts and that has been made even more apparent by the unbelievable response that we have had on social media from the local community.

“People of all ages have offered to help which is really refreshing to hear. I think this is proof that the demise of Spittal Rovers almost a decade ago should never have reached such a low point.

“With the East of Scotland League on the decline after the big clubs left for the Lowland League, I think this is the best and only time to try and get this up and running.

“The best players from Berwick need to be playing in Berwick. The fact that there are over 20 guys playing north of the Border at the moment highlights a problem”

The initial idea came about when Brown, currently managing Berwick Rangers under-15s in the Pinpoint Recruitment 2nd Division, began to plan ahead for his side’s future in the senior game. He has faced a dilemma.

“I’ve had these lads for years and Berwick, at the moment, offers very little for talented young footballers. Any boys with ambition feel stuck and that is why the best players from the town go into East of Scotland football with the likes of Coldstream and Duns. They do not have anything to strive for in their home town, which is what we want to change.”

“I spoke to Baxie about it at Hutton Stone, where we work and he mentioned Spittal. He had just been involved in a pre-season game at Alnwick Town for Coldstream which they had won – with nine Berwick lads involved. I think this had made him think.

“It just shows that something somewhere is wrong when a side full of Berwick players can go and beat a Northern League club playing for another town. Berwick produces a lot of talented footballers, but unfortunately other clubs from different areas are currently benefitting from them.”

“The plan was to use my junior team in 2016/17 with four or five more experienced lads, but because we have had so many texts and emails from people showing an interest, we now think we can field a team in August and players from my team can filter through into that at the start of the second season.”

The pair have moved things along quickly, contacting as many former Rovers players and officials as they can, although it has been difficult to get in touch with everyone.

Baxendale explained: “There have been so many people involved with the club over the years and some of them will almost certainly not be on the likes of Facebook or Twitter. I’d urge any of them who read this article or anyone who has an interest in improving the amateur game in the town for that matter, to attend the initial meeting.”

That meeting is scheduled to take place at The Grove Pub this coming Tuesday, January 20, at 7.30pm, where they, along with Buglass, aim to give their reasons on why they believe the time is right for ‘The Seasiders’ to make their return.

Anyone who cannot make the meeting, but who would like to declare their interest can contact the club via email at spittalroversfc@gmail.com