• Derek Bell

The Opener

Finally we reach the point where the Lowland League starts for us. Thanks to our involvement in the Betfred Cup we are arriving either fashionably late to the party with East Kilbride on our arm or we are stumbling through the back door half cut with a kebab in our hand and four cans of Stella.

Our league season starts at Shielfield with a visit from fellow Lowland new boys Bonnyrigg Rose, or Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic FC to give them their Sunday name.

Rose are of course one of the former Junior clubs who were part of the exodus of Eastern Junior clubs to join the East of Scotland league for the beginning of last season. This was a major cultural shift for the junior clubs and has led to a huge shake up of the East Of Scotland set up.

They won their conference winning 22 out of the 24 games and only losing one, scoring 105 goals in the process. They held the record for longest unbeaten run of 22 games and longest winning run of 20 games, along with the highest attendance of 528 for their local derby against Dalkeith Thistle. Wining the conference meant they went into the Championship Play-Off against fellow conference winners Penicuik Athletic and Broxburn Athletic. Rose won their home match against Penicuik 2-1 in front of just 1,000 fans. They then travelled to Broxburn where they came back from 2-0 down at half time to win 3-2, equalising in the 83rd minute and getting the winner in the fourth minute of injury time.

Rose celebrate promotion, before finding out they weren't, then were

This was far from the end of the drama with the SFA initially rejecting their full membership application as they did not have floodlights. Rose appealed the decision but this also unsuccessful. However, thanks to a massive effort they got the floodlights installed and their membership was accepted.

In recent years Bonnyrigg had been one of the top teams in the SJFA East Region Super League wining it four times and being runners-up three times since season 2006/07 (12 seasons).

Manager Robbie Horn needs no introduction to Berwick fans and will receive a warm welcome as he remains a popular figure and was, of course, captain of our Championship winning team. Robbie is in his second spell at New Dundas Park having been manager from June 2015 until he came to Shielfield in August 2017, following his departure last season he was reappointed Bonnyrigg manager in November 2018.

He won't be the only familiar face around either. The squad features ex-Berwickers Kerr Young, Lee Currie, Ross Gray and Neil Martyniuk. They also feature Louis Swanson, brother of Danny, who was signed in the summer.

Currie in a familiar pose

Rose had a home game to start the season and had a spectacular start putting six past Vale of Leithen to no reply with six different scorers suggesting the goal threat comes from all over the pitch. Against Vale they played a 3-5-2 formation.

There is little doubt that this game will prove a tough examination of a young Dream Team who are still gelling.

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