Albion Rovers F.C.

Albion Rovers Football Club is a semi-professional football team from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. They are members of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and play in Scottish League Two, the fourth tier of the Scottish football league system. Founded in 1882 as the result of an amalgamation of two teams, Albion and Rovers, the club joined the Scottish Football League initially in 1903 before returning in 1919 and, although they have spent most of their time in the lower divisions, have maintained their league membership since. Their sole major honours during that time have been wins in the lower two divisions of the senior league system.

Albion Rovers
Albion Rovers FC logo.svg
Full nameAlbion Rovers Football Club
Nickname(s)The Wee Rovers
Founded1882; 140 years ago (1882)
GroundCliftonhill, Coatbridge
Capacity1,572 (489 seated)
ChairmanIan Benton
ManagerBrian Reid
LeagueScottish League Two
2021–22Scottish League Two, 8th of 10
WebsiteClub website

The club's stadium, Cliftonhill, opened on 25 December 1919.

HistoryEdit

Early yearsEdit

 
Cliftonhill, home of Albion Rovers

Albion Rovers were formed in 1882 from a merger of two Coatbridge sides Albion FC and Rovers FC,[1] 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 just 8 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 along with Ayr Parkhouse following a small expansion in numbers.[2] Rovers settled into the League reasonably well, albeit without ever clinching promotion. 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. By 1915 the Scottish Football League had been merged into a single division structure, with the second division scrapped. The Rovers moved to join the Western Football League and moved to their current Cliftonhill home in 1919.[1] They were close to returning to the Scottish League in 1917 but lost out in a vote amongst Clydebank, Vale of Leven and Stevenston United.[3]

Jimmy ConlinEdit

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).[4]

1920 Cup FinalEdit

With their new stadium completed, Rovers returned to the single division Scottish League for the 1919–20 season. Although they finished bottom, the club 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.[1][5][6] 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,[7] appearing for Scotland in a match against Wales.[8] The club remained in the Second Division until the 1933–34 season when they took the title by a point from Dunfermline Athletic.[9] 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 over 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.[10]

Post-warEdit

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 due to a restructuring of the League set-up.[11] To add to their problems the celebrated wing partnership of Willie Findlay and Johnny McIlhatton was broken up when the former departed for Rangers[12] and the latter to Everton. One feature of the McIlhatton transfer was a friendly match between the two 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.[13] 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 1970sEdit

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.[14]

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 1990sEdit

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.[1] 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.[15] 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.[16]

Third DivisionEdit

Rovers found themselves in the newly created Scottish Football League Third Division, finishing last in its inaugural season of 1994–95.[16] 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. Supporters mobilised shareholders to defeat the proposal and oust the then board, 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.[1]

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.[17]

125th anniversaryEdit

2006–07 saw the club celebrate its 125th anniversary and various events took place and souvenirs were produced. A new kit that combined the original blue colours with the yellow adopted during the 1960s was also introduced as part of the celebrations. 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.[1][18]

Promotion to the Second DivisionEdit

Having missed out on a promotion play-off position by a single point in 2009–10, 2010–11 saw the club consistently in the top places. Impressive late season form saw Rovers finish 2nd and go on to gain promotion, beating Queens Park[19] in the play-off semi final and Annan Athletic[20] 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 was Rovers' first in a higher division in 22 seasons – and 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. Yet 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[21] and penalties win over Stranraer in the final[22] meant that Rovers had gone up, and stayed up, for the first time since the 1930s.

Run to Scottish Cup Quarter FinalEdit

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.[23] After a controversial late equaliser at Ibrox, Rovers were held to a 1–1 draw[24] but lost 2-0 in the replay.[25]

League 2Edit

Rovers currently play in Scottish League Two. In recent seasons they have flirted with slipping into the League Two play-offs; they made a remarkable escape under manager Kevin Harper in 2018–19 and were again in 9th place (one place above the play-off drop zone) when football was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid 19. Harper left the club after two years in May 2020 and was replaced by Brain Reid, whose playing career covered Morton, Rangers, Burnley, Blackpool, Dunfermline, Queen Of the South and Ayr United. He also won two caps for Scotland Under 21s.[26]

Scottish record penalty shoot-outEdit

On 14 October 2020, Rovers set a Scottish record for consecutive penalties scored in a shootout, beating Stranraer 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.[27]

HonoursEdit

Club recordsEdit

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

Biggest defeat: 1–11 v Partick Thistle (Scottish League Cup, 11 August 1993)[29]

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

Current squadEdit

As of 31 August 2022[30]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
GK   SCO Jack Leighfield
GK   SCO Luca Sandberg
GK   SCO Chris Smith
DF   SCO Barry Duncan
DF   SCO Sean Fagan (captain)
DF   SCO Adam Fernie
DF   SCO Luke Graham (on loan from Dundee)
DF   SCO Ayrton Sonkur
DF   SCO Ewan Wilson (on loan from Motherwell)
MF   SCO Kyle Fleming
MF   SCO Lewis Kidd
No. Pos. Nation Player
MF   SCO Jamie Leslie
MF   SCO Blair Malcolm
MF   SCO Devan McColl
MF   SCO Michael Paton
MF   SCO Charlie Reilly
MF   SCO Scott Roberts
MF   SCO Callum Wilson
FW   SCO Kieran Dolan
FW   SCO Kieran McGrath
FW   FRA Amaury Testa
FW   SCO Max Wright

Club staffEdit

ManagementEdit

  • Manager: Brian Reid
  • Assistant Manager: Scott MacKenzie
  • Goalkeeping Coach: Alan Leslie
  • Coach: Graeme Liveston
  • Fitness Coach: Davie Johnstone
  • Club Doctor: Dr Chris Ide

BoardEdit

  • Chairman: Ian Benton
  • Directors: Jordan Campbell, Eddie Hagerty, Mark Hunter, Liam Nugent
  • Honorary Vice President: Gordon Lind

Source:[31]

ManagersEdit

Derivative teamsEdit

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.

ReferencesEdit

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

External linksEdit