Albion Rovers Football Club is a semi-professional football team from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. They play in the Lowland Football League, the fifth tier of the Scottish football league system.

Albion Rovers
Full nameAlbion Rovers Football Club
Nickname(s)The Wee Rovers
Founded1882; 141 years ago (1882)
GroundCliftonhill, Coatbridge
Capacity1,572 (489 seated)
ChairmanIan Benton
ManagerSandy Clark
LeagueLowland League
2022–23Scottish League Two, 10th of 10 (relegated via play-offs)
WebsiteClub website

Founded in October 1882, the club joined the Scottish Football League in 1903 and, other than four seasons during the First World War when the second tier was abolished, maintained their league membership until they were relegated in the 2022–23 season. During this time, they won three lower division league titles – in 1933–34, 1988–89 and 2014–15; and been promoted on three other occasions – 1937–38, 1947–48 and 2010–11.

Ownership edit

Albion Rovers FC is a private limited company owned by its shareholders. Some half of its shares, which were first issued in 1919, have over many years become dormant, the original owners having died and the shares' inheritors becoming untraceable. The biggest single shareholder with some 7,000 shares (more than 20% of the non-dormant shares) is Anton Fagan, a full-time employee of the Scottish Football Association. The next largest shareholder has around 2,000 shares (6%).[1]

History edit

Early years edit

Cliftonhill, home of Albion Rovers

Albion Rovers were formed in 1882 through a merger of two Coatbridge sides Albion FC and Rovers FC,[2] and played at Meadow Park from that year. After reaching six local cup finals in their first nine years and losing all of them, Rovers finally won a trophy in their tenth year by defeating Royal Albert 5–2 in the Larkhall Charity Cup Final, and followed this up eight days later with a 5–3 triumph over Airdrieonians in the Airdrie Charity Cup Final.

The club joined the Scottish Football League Second Division in 1903 following a small expansion in numbers.[3] Rovers' greatest success in the pre-war era was winning the Scottish Qualifying Cup in 1913–14 by defeating Dundee Hibernian 3–0 in the Final at Tynecastle. In 1915, the League scrapped their second tier and Rovers were forced to join the Western Football League. Rovers re-joined the League after the War and moved to their current Cliftonhill home. The first match at the ground took place on 25 December 1919 v St Mirren.[4]

Jimmy Conlin edit

A fast and tricky winger on the field, and a colourful character off it, Jimmy Conlin played for Rovers from 1901–04, helping the club win the Scottish Combination Championship in 1901–02. He was transferred to Bradford City and played for England (the country of his birth) against Scotland at Hampden Park in 1906. He was subsequently transferred to Manchester City for £1,000, which made him the most expensive footballer in the world at the time, jointly with Alf Common.[5]

1920 Cup Final edit

Rovers finished bottom of the League in 1919–20, but enjoyed possibly their finest hour when they defeated Rangers in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, before losing 3–2 to Kilmarnock in the Final.[2][6][7] Local folklore has it that Rovers' goalkeeper Joe Shortt had to be bailed out of police custody on the morning of the Final and that his subsequent performance at Hampden had been affected by the lingering effects of his alcohol consumption the night before.

Rovers remained a top-flight side even after the return of the Second Division until their relegation in 1923. It was during this period that John "Jock" White became Rovers' only international,[8] appearing for Scotland in a match against Wales.[9] The club remained in the Second Division until the 1933–34 season when they took the title by a point from Dunfermline Athletic.[10] Of the five seasons immediately before the Second World War Rovers spent all but one of them as a top-flight side. They took part in the Emergency Western League during the 1939–40 season before transferring to the Southern Football League. Despite struggling from time to time to get a full side out, the Rovers managed to survive the war in good shape.[11]

Post-war edit

It would be 1946–47 before the League returned full-time and Rovers, whose 16th-place finish in 1939 would not normally have led to relegation, were assigned to the 'B' Division in a restructuring of the League set-up.[12] To add to their problems the celebrated wing partnership of Willie Findlay and Johnny McIlhatton was broken up when the former departed for Rangers[13] and the latter to Everton. One feature of the McIlhatton transfer was a friendly match between the clubs at Goodison Park in September 1946, which the Toffees won 6–3.

With Jock Stein in the line-up (Stein played 215 matches for Rovers from 1942-50), Rovers managed to clinch promotion in 1947–48 if only for one season, amassing just eight points in the First Division in 1948–49 and an immediate return to the 'B' Division.[14] This was effectively the end of the Rovers as a major force in Scottish football as they became stuck in the Second Division for many years, only occasionally challenging at the top end of the league.

1960s and 1970s edit

Nevertheless, there were enough moments to brighten up the lives of the Cliftonhill faithful – such as an 8–2 League Cup defeat of local rivals Airdrieonians in 1965–66 and a run to the League Cup quarter-finals in 1973–74, again defeating Airdrie along the way. Rovers took a 2–0 lead in the first leg against Kilmarnock, but lost the 2nd leg 5–2 to go out 5–4 on aggregate.

Notable players from this era included midfielder Tony Green, possibly the only player to make the Hall of Fame at three clubs (Rovers, Blackpool and Newcastle United), and goalkeeper Jim Brown, who moved on to Chesterfield, and then Sheffield United – both players were capped for Scotland. And no team has ever been able to put together a more spicy trio than Currie, Sage and Rice, who appeared in Rovers' sides of the early 1970s.[15]

Changes brought in for the 1975–76 season saw Rovers placed in the new Second Division, which was now the third tier of the Scottish League.

1980s and 1990s edit

Rovers made some headlines for reasons other than their on-field performances when, in 1983, confectioners Tunnock's became the club's shirt sponsor and the appearance of the shirt was altered to mimic the gold wrapper with red diagonal stripes of a caramel wafer bar the company produced, making Rovers one of the very few clubs to wear a kit inspired by a biscuit wrapper.[2] In 1986 a book covering the club's history, The Boys From the "Brig" by Robin Marwick, was published.

Players such as Vic Kasule and Bernie Slaven brought some flamboyancy to Rovers in the mid-1980s, and in the 1988–89 season the club were Second Division champions.[16] The First Division stay was again to last just one season and Rovers subsequently finished bottom of the bottom division several times during the 1990s.[17]

Third Division edit

Rovers found themselves in the newly created Scottish Football League Third Division, finishing last in its inaugural season of 1994–95.[17] In an attempt to cut costs, the number of full-timers was substantially reduced and the club's board took a decision to sell Cliftonhill and groundshare with Airdrieonians. A 'Rescue The Rovers' fan campaign mobilised shareholders to defeat the proposal and oust the Board at an Emergency General Meeting, a prescient move as it turned out given Airdrie's struggle to maintain the costs of running their new ground and subsequent liquidation.

Following another last place finish in 1999–2000 there was an attempt to change the club's fortunes. The team went full-time, although many of the full-time players were youths to whom the club gave employment under a government scheme. Rovers went into the last day of the season in 2001–02 and 2002–03 with a chance of promotion, only to miss out both times. The full-time experiment proved too expensive and had to be dismantled to keep the club's costs under control.[2]

Another attempt by directors in 2004 to sell Cliftonhill and move to Airdrie was defeated by shareholders, despite scare stories put about by the board that the football authorities would not allow the club to play at the ground for much longer. Rovers have remained at Cliftonhill to this day and the famous old ground reached its centenary in 2019. A centenary exhibition was held at Coatbridge's Summerlee Museum to mark the occasion.[18]

125th anniversary edit

2006–07 saw the club celebrate its 125th anniversary and various events took place and souvenirs produced. A one-off kit that combined the original blue colours with the yellow adopted during the 1960s was introduced. The club also progressed to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, their first semi-final since 1921, a match they lost 4–1 to Ross County in Dingwall.[2][19]

Two Promotions edit

Impressive late season form in 2010–11 saw Rovers finish 2nd and go on to gain promotion, beating Queens Park[20] in the play-off semi final and Annan Athletic[21] in the final. In memorable scenes, hundreds of Rovers fans invaded the Annan pitch at the final whistle and joined in prolonged celebrations with the players.

The 2011–12 season, Rovers' first in a higher division in 22 seasons, had its ups and downs. A 7–2 victory over Airdrie United was the highlight for most Rovers fans but the team finished 9th in the table and found themselves in the play-offs for a second successive season – this time to stay up rather than go up. Rovers triumphed again in even more dramatic circumstances than the previous season. A Scott Chaplain last minute winner against Elgin City in the semi-final[22] and penalties win over Stranraer in the final[23] meant that Rovers had gone up, and stayed up, for the first time since the 1930s. Relegation came again in 2012–13 but Rovers won the 2014–15 League Two title with a 3–2 win over Clyde at Broadwood.[24] They spent three seasons in League One before relegation back to the 4th tier after finishing bottom in 2017–18.

Run to Scottish Cup Quarter Final edit

In 2013–14, Rovers best cup run in decades saw them reach the quarter final against Rangers, having beaten local rivals top flight Motherwell 1–0 in the fourth round.[25] After a controversial late equaliser at Ibrox, Rovers were held to a 1–1 draw[26] but lost 2–0 in the replay.[27]

League 2 & Lowland League edit

Rovers struggled following relegation to League 2 in 2018, fighting to avoid the ‘Club 42’ play-off position in most seasons thereafter. They made a remarkable escape under manager Kevin Harper in 2018–19 and were in 9th place (one place above the play-off drop zone) when football was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid 19.[28] However in season 2022–23 Rovers finished bottom of the league and faced The Spartans, losing 2–1 over two legs, and were relegated to the Lowland Football League for 2023–24.

Scottish record penalty shoot-out edit

On 14 October 2020, Rovers set a Scottish record for consecutive penalties scored in a shootout, beating Stranraer F.C. 15–14 in a League Cup group match. The teams between them set a record of 28 consecutive penalties scored to take the score to 14–14, before Stranraer missed their 15th kick and Rovers scored theirs.[29]

Honours edit

Club records edit

Biggest win: 12–0 v Airdriehill (Scottish Cup, 3 September 1887)

Biggest defeat: 1–11 v Partick Thistle (Scottish League Cup, 11 August 1993)[31]

Biggest home attendance: 27,381 v Rangers (Scottish Cup, 8 February 1936)

Current squad edit

As of 2 September 2023[32]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   SCO Ross Connelly
2 DF   SCO Adam Fernie
3 DF   SCO Scott Dunn
4 DF   COD Arnie Kasa
5 DF   SCO Sean Fagan (Captain)
6 MF   SCO Callum Wilson
8 MF   SCO Dom McMahon
9 FW   SCO Niyah Joseph
10 MF   SCO Alex McCaw
MF   SCO Kai McMenemy
14 FW   SCO Joe Bevan
No. Pos. Nation Player
15 MF   SCO Devan McColl
16 DF   SCO Barry Duncan
18 FW   SCO Reece Paterson
19 MF   SCO Joshua Tran
20 FW   NGA Bright Prince
21 DF   SCO Conor Duffy
22 FW   SCO Cha Henderson
17 GK   SCO Fraser Walker
12 DF   SCO Alan Reid
DF   SCO Corrie Fellows (on loan from Airdrieonians)
MF   SCO Michael Paton
11 FW   SCO Tylar Denholm (on loan from Livingston)

Out on loan edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   SCO Greg Forrest (on loan to Cambuslang Rangers)

Club staff edit

Management edit

  • Manager: Sandy Clark
  • Assistant manager: George Paterson
  • Player/coach: Michael Paton
  • Goalkeeping coach: Vacant
  • Club doctor: Dr Chris Ide
  • Club physio: Jade Shiels
  • Kit manager: Gary Johnstone

Board edit

  • Chairman: Ian Benton
  • Directors: Jordan Campbell, Mark Hunter, Bobby Cameron
  • Honorary vice president: Gordon Lind


Managers edit

Derivative teams edit

Albion Rovers from Newport, Wales, playing in the Gwent County League, were named after the Coatbridge side by expats. There are also clubs of the same name in Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

References edit

  1. ^ "ALBION ROVERS FOOTBALL CLUB, LTD. (THE) overview – Find and update company information".
  2. ^ a b c d e Albion Rovers at Historical Kits site
  3. ^ M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 97
  4. ^ B. Crampsey, The First Hundred Years, Glasgow: Scottish Football League, 1990, pp. 62–3
  5. ^ "Bradford City Football Club Museum: Myths and Reality". Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Kilmarnock, 3; Albion Rovers, 2. Scottish Cup–Final Tie". The Glasgow Herald. 19 April 1920. p. 13. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  7. ^ Is It Really So Strange? Archived 28 July 2022 at the Wayback Machine, Shaughan McGuigan, Tell Him He's Pele, 6 March 2014
  8. ^ Scotland Football Records | Clubs played for | Albion Rovers, London Hearts Supporters Club. Retrieved 21 February 2022
  9. ^ G. & J. Rolin, Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2003–2004, p. 858
  10. ^ M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 110
  11. ^ B. Crampsey, The First Hundred Years, Glasgow: Scottish Football League, 1990, pp. 118–9
  12. ^ M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 113
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  14. ^ M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 114
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 136
  17. ^ a b M. Robinson, Football League Tables 1888–2003, p. 137-8
  18. ^ "Photography exhibition to celebrate Albion Rovers centenary year". 16 July 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  19. ^ "Ross County 4–1 Albion Rovers". BBC Sport. 27 October 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  20. ^ "Albion Rovers 2–0 Queen's Park (3–1)". BBC Sport. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Annan Athletic 2–1 Albion Rovers (3–4)". BBC Sport. 22 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  22. ^ "Albion Rovers 2–0 Elgin City (2–1)". BBC Sport. 13 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Albion Rovers 3–1 Stranraer (3–3, Albion win 5–3 on penalties)". BBC Sport. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Clyde 2 Albion Rovers 3". BBC Sport. BBC. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Albion Rovers 1–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  26. ^ "Rangers 1–1 Albion Rovers". BBC Sport. BBC. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Albion Rovers 0–2 Rangers". BBC Sport. BBC. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Kevin Harper leaves Scottish League Two side Albion Rovers after contract expires". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Stair Park serves up Scottish record penalty shoot-out". 14 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  30. ^ Known as second division prior to 1975
  31. ^ Cameron nets four times as Thistle run riot, The Herald, 12 August 1993
  32. ^ "Albion Rovers squad". Albion Rovers FC. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
  33. ^ "Find Out More About Club Staff At Albion Rovers FC". Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  34. ^ "Jimmy Lindsay". Albion Rovers. Retrieved 9 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "Dumbarton FC: Jim Chapman reveals the devastation which cost him his career". Daily Record. Daily Record & Sunday Mail. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Albion Rovers appoint McCormack". BBC Sport. BBC. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  37. ^ a b "Martin in charge at Cliftonhill". BBC Sport. BBC. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  38. ^ "Albion Rovers give manager Martin the perfect parting gift". Scotsman. Herald & Times Group. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  39. ^ "Albion Rovers part company with manager Todd Lumsden". BBC Sport. BBC. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Darren Young replaces James Ward as Albion Rovers boss". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  41. ^ a b "Brian Kerr promoted to Albion Rovers manager after Darren Young exit". BBC Sport. BBC. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  42. ^ "Albion Rovers: Manager Brian Kerr and assistant Stuart Malcolm leave club". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  43. ^ "Albion Rovers manager news". Albion Rovers. Albion Rovers. 22 May 2018. Archived from the original on 23 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  44. ^ "Kevin Harper Departs". Albion Rovers. Albion Rovers. 8 May 2020. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.

External links edit