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Albion Rovers F.C.
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, as of the 2019–20 season, play in League Two, the fourth tier of the Scottish football league system. Founded in 1882 as the result of an amalgamation of two other teams, 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.

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


Albion Rovers were formed in 1882 from a merger of the two Coatbridge sides Albion FC and Rovers FC,[1] and played at Meadow Park from that year. 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. 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 whilst members of this set-up 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]

With their new stadium completed, Rovers returned to the single division Scottish League for the 1919–20 season. Although they finished rock bottom that season the club also 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] 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, appearing for Scotland in a match against Wales.[4] The club remained in the Second Division until the 1933–34 season when they took the title by a point from Dunfermline Athletic.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] To add to their problems the celebrated wing partnership of Willie Findlay and Johnny McIlhatton was broken up when the former departed for Rangers[8] 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 94 matches for Rovers), 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.[9] 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.

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, who subsequently became a club legend at both 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 [Bill] Currie, [Sid] Sage and [Bert] Rice, who appeared in Rovers' sides of the early 1970s.[10]

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.

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 sweet wrapper.[1] In 1986 a book covering the club's history was published, "The Boys From the 'Brig'" by Robin Marwick.

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.[11] 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.[12]

Rovers found themselves in the newly created Scottish Football League Third Division, finishing last in its inaugural season of 1994–95 season.[12] 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 1999–00 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 stayed put and it was against this background that a group of fans set up Albion Rovers Supporters' Trust with a view to benefit the club and local community.

Various commercial offers have subsequently been made to purchase Cliftonhill, but the new board has insisted that it will first seek a new home in Coatbridge before closing any deal.[1]

The 2006–07 season 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. On the field 2006–07 saw the club progress 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][13]

Having missed out on a promotion play-off position by a single point in 2009–10 season, 2010–11 season 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[14] in the play-off semi final and Annan Athletic[15] 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[16] and penalties win over Stranraer in the final[17] meant that Rovers had gone up, and stayed up, for the first time since the 1930s.

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.[18] After a controversial late equaliser at Ibrox, Rovers were held to a 1–1 draw[19] but lost 2-0 in the replay.[20]

On 28 April 2018, Albion lost 2–0 to Ayr United at Somerset Park, whilst Queen's Park beat Arbroath 3–0 at Hampden. This meant that Albion finished bottom of Scottish League One and were relegated to League Two.[21]


Club records

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

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

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

Current squad

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

Club staff

  • Manager: Kevin Harper
  • Assistant Manager: Joe McLaughlin
  • Goalkeeping Coach: Andy Carlin
  • Sports Therapist: JD Peacock
  • Club Doctor: Dr Chris Ide
  • Kitman: Jason Bell
  • Chairman: Eddie Hagerty
  • Honorary President: Lew McWilliam
  • Club Secretary: Colin Woodward
  • Directors: Ian Benton, Mark Hunter, Alison McGowan (Supporters Trust Rep), Bill Shields


Derivative teams

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 (currently using the name Cairnlea but has changed to and from Albion Rovers several times over their 40-year history) and the Republic of Ireland.

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