PIES, beer and Bovril are usually the fare of football matches, rather than literary launches.
But at Berwick Town Hall tonight it is quite fitting, for a new book on a unique football club from an equally unique town.
It is Berwick Rangers fan Tom Maxwell’s account of following the only English team playing in the Scottish league.
The Lone Rangers, published by Northumbria Press at £17.99, marks the 60th anniversary this week of Berwick joining the Scottish league.
The fact that Berwick’s every fixture is an international and that they are greeted with away games jibes about being “English *******” mirrors the split identity of the town itself.
The peculiar status of both football club and town is something which has long fascinated Tom.
For a start, most of the Berwick players on the end of the anti-English brickbats are Scots, and the club’s following is roughly half English and half Scottish.
But the Berwick identity crisis goes back long before the founding of the club in 1884.
The town was at the centre of an elongated pass-the-parcel during the centuries of Anglo-Scottish warfare, changing hands 13 times.
And 32-year-old Tom is well placed to write about the confusion of being a Berwicker.
Although having been born in a hospital in Edinburgh, where he now lives, he spent the first eight years of his life on a farm in Cornhill-on-Tweed in Northumberland.
“Living just two miles from the Scottish town of Coldstream meant that crossing the border was an almost daily occurrence,” he said.
At the age of eight, he moved to Berwick, where he was introduced to the black and gold colours of Berwick Rangers by his father, who was born in Northumberland.
But true to the theme, Tom’s mother came from Dunfermline in Scotland.
The borderline existence was present as Tom grew up admiring one of Berwick’s greatest footballing sons – Trevor Steven – one of whose clubs was Glasgow Rangers but who also won 36 caps for England.
The confusion continued with the Berwick Rangers club crest.
Tom said: “The club made two additions to its crest in the early Nineties. Today, the familiar town symbol of a bear relieving itself against a tree is joined by the respective lions of Scotland and England.”
During the Euro tournaments when both England and Scotland played, Tom recalls alternate English and Scots flags along the High Street.
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