SATURDAY was a dark day in the 135-year history of Berwick Rangers, the English side which plies its trade in the Scottish league set-up. Despite recording title wins in 1979 (then Division Two) and in 2007 (League Division Three), their most famous victory came when they knocked Scot Symon’s Big Rangers out of the Scottish Cup in 1967.

The prospect of another big scalp in one of Scotland’s major domestic cup competitions seems a far-off objective now, after Berwick were beaten 4-0 by a rampant Cove Rangers at Balmoral Stadium. Now a dead cert to be relegated, they will become the second team after East Stirlingshire to drop out of the SPFL since the League Two play-off was introduced in 2014.

An uncertain future now lies ahead if, as expected, Berwick fail to overturn that four-goal deficit at Shielfield this Saturday. The demise and lack of any reappearance from East Stirlingshire shows that, with the likes of East Kilbride in the division, the Lowland League guarantees no immediate return.

It comes after one of the worst seasons for any bottom-tier club in recent memory, with Berwick amassing just 19 points over the course of the season – three fewer than Cowdenbeath last season, 13 fewer than East Stirlingshire when they were relegated – and finishing the league campaign with a run of one win from 24. They have failed to find the net since March.

The contrast to their most recent opponents could not be more stark. Mitch Megginson, top scorer for Cove Rangers, took his tally to 49 for the season at the weekend, while Berwick have managed just 31 goals in all competitions. Cove haven’t lost since December 1, have now won 17 of their 20 matches since and have scored 55 goals, conceding six along the way. They haven’t conceded more than one goal in a single match since March. Even still, Cove scored six to Rothes’ two that day.

It’s no wonder Berwick manager John Brownlie, appointed ahead of the final match of the League Two campaign, ominously warned that it was a matter of “staying in the tie” for the first leg, rather than taking something back to Shielfield.

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This season wasn’t all about what happened on the park, however. While disputes at boardroom level are common at football clubs, they have been apparent at Berwick for a while now, reaching a new level in the summer when budgetary constraints led to Robbie Horn leaving as manager by the time October was out. And while he said he left on good terms and doesn’t hold any personal grudges, he has since said that he considered giving up management after being left in a “dark place”. He was replaced by Johnny Harvey who, after a decent start, tried to change too much too quickly and embarked upon that desolate and terminal run.

In among all that, Berwick managed to get the better of Albion Rovers, their main rivals for the drop, over the first three encounters – including 5-3 and 2-0 wins, and a late equaliser which, at the time, appeared to have ensured Berwick’s survival. But then an administration error by Clyde helped swing momentum in the opposite direction. The reversal of Rovers’ result versus the Bully Wee gave the previously doomed Coatbridge outfit an extra three points, which they added to with a win over Stirling on the same day, and a shot in the arm to boot.

It set up a do-or-die clash for Harvey last month, which Berwick lost 3-0 to a resurgent Rovers.

To give Harvey his due, he was partly – however small – undone by Clyde fielding an ineligible player.

On the other hand, there was his peculiar post-match interview following defeat to Queen’s Park. Or the occasion he took Ken, a hardened Black and Golds season ticket holder, into the dressing room following the 6-0 humbling at Annan. Or the comical defending which has plagued their season, or the poor recruitment, and the fact Harvey appeared to fall out with and move on some of the better players at his disposal.

Other boardroom disagreements have not helped. While the situation with the playing budget led to a power struggle, a failed coup and resignations, there was also tension behind the scenes on whether or not to appeal, or get involved with, Rovers being awarded three extra points. Moreover, there remains different outlooks on how best to take the club forward, with current chairman John Bell interested in a new stadium and some resistant to the idea.

Then there was the unwelcome distraction of that tweet.

Barely anyone involved came out of that situation looking good and it led to the tired joke being repeated ad nauseum through a number of outlets. From the outside, it seemed like the club was putting far too much time and energy into a petty dispute while they had bigger things to worry about – namely, their impending relegation. Initially, the club wished to contest the version of events put forward by their former social media account manager but, regardless of who was right and who was wrong, the situation was allowed to drag on for far too long.

It all adds up to a club in turmoil, but it also presents an opportunity to hit the reset button, refresh, and put in place a plan to revitalise this historic club. They just need everyone pulling in the same direction first.