Royalists’ clash with Rangers still in doubt

PLAYERS, committeemen and supporters at Hawick Royal Albert were keeping their fingers crossed yesterday that this weekend’s pre-season friendly against Rangers will go ahead.

But with the Scottish Football Association still to grant the beleaguered Glasgow club a licence at the time of going to press, the chances of tomorrow’s game at Albert Park taking place were slim.

A Rangers XI, made up largely of reserves and youth team players was pencilled in to play the Royalists in what would be Rangers Newco’s first competitive game in front of supporters.

Albert committeeman Michael Hook said yesterday lunch-time: “We’ve still never heard anything. We could wait until Friday night before making a decision but I think if we’ve not heard by Friday morning then it looks like the game will have to be cancelled.”

The match has caused a great deal of interest with Gers fans from as far afield as Ballymena, Glasgow and the north of England all indicating their intention to travel to Hawick.

Hook added: “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed. The response has been unbelievable and I’m sure it would be a great day for the Albert.”

Rangers were last week dumped into the Third Division of the Scottish Football League after their recent turmoil which saw the club plunged into liquidation.

A spokesperson for the club said yesterday: “We are in talks with the SFA over a licence to play so we need to wait for that.”

Four Hawick players – Steven Drummond, Ryan Shepherd, Declan Hogg and Kerr Brown – are in the Albert squad for the game.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s clash, 16-year-old Drummond said: “It’s exciting just thinking about the game and the rest of the boys feel the same way.

“This is the biggest game I’ve played in and probably the biggest game I’ll ever play in.

“Getting the chance to play against a Rangers side is just brilliant and I just can’t wait for Saturday.”

The game will be Rangers’ second visit to Albert Park, for in 1990 a Rangers XI took on Royalists.

In goal for the Albert on that occasion was local player Davie Aitkin, who is now on Royalists’ coaching staff.

He said: “My main worry was that we would get a hammering, but we played well and were only beaten 2-0.

“I got a real buzz out of the game, and the Albert boys playing on Saturday will get the same. It will be a great experience for them.”

Should the game be cancelled, Rangers have promised to reschedule the fixture and an alternative opponent will be found.