Three things everyone knows about Berwick-upon-Tweed: it’s in England (just), it’s at war with Russia and its football team plays in the Scottish League.

The first’s true, though the old place changed hands 13 times before 1482; the second’s fallacy – unless that nice gentleman in the Kremlin knows otherwise – and the third hangs by a thread from the Royal Border Bridge.

The home defeat to Albion Rovers last Saturday means that Berwick Rangers – known thereabouts as the Black and Gold, or sometimes as the Wee Gers so not to confuse them with the Big Bad Gers of Glasgow – will finish bottom of Scottish football’s fourth tier.

Play-offs on May 11 and 18 with the champions of either the Highland or Lowland Leagues – who play off first – will decide their fate. Their opponents will probably be Cove Rangers; Berwick, one win in the last 22 games, will start as second favourite.

Many in North-East football have a soft spot for Berwick, many in Scotland loathe them – “fatherless English,” they call them, or something more bluntly to that effect, and no matter that, historically, 95 per cent of the players have been Scots.

Others, shall we say, suppose them borderline bucolic. Some still recall a screening of the television show They Think It’s All Over at which Berwick fans could be heard singing “I want to be a Berwick Ranger – only live for sex and danger.”

“You can actually do both things at once in Berwick,” interjected Nick Hancock, the host. “Up there some of the sheep have herpes.”

Their finest hour, of course, came on January 28, 1967 when they knocked the other Rangers out of the Scottish FA Cup and no matter that The Northern Echo thought Wyn Davies’s cup hat-trick for Newcastle United at Coventry to be of greater significance.

Sassenached, we grudgingly gave Berwick four paragraphs.

Back then the crowd was 13,500, larger than the Northumberland town’s population. Last Saturday it was 700, boosted by seven of us on the half past nine from Darlington. “Probably the most critical fixture in the club’s long and distinguished (sic) history,” said the programme but like one or two on the northbound train, Berwick just didn’t turn up.

The northbound journey is as ever enlivened by one of Mr Nigel Brierley’s true-or-false quizzes. Thus can it be confirmed that Charlie Chaplin never did win second prize in a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest – mythical, like Berwick’s war – though a gentleman of that name played for West Auckland and Whitby Town in the 1930s.

Officialdom would occasionally ask his identity. Given an honest answer, for this was a proper Charlie, the ref would threaten to send him off. “It’s much better than being called Edward. I’ve had fun,” he said.

Another question posited that Bobby Charlton had a Lonsdale Belt – true, Nigel insisted, he’d won it in a raffle. The claim has some internet support – some say a raffle, some an auction, some even suppose it one of our ‘Enery’s.

The claim must nonetheless be supposed what clever folk call apocryphal, and the rest of us call cobblers.

The weather forecast for England is what the Scots call dreich, and for Scotland what the English suppose quite canny. For meteorological purposes, the border seems to have been moved a couple of miles south.

It’s a lovely day, Berwick station full of rugby fans headed for Murrayfield. Berwick RFC, who also play in the Scottish leagues, face Greenock Wanderers in the final of the National Shield.

The Berwick Advertiser devotes both front and back pages to the footballers’ plight, however, the mayor having launched a players’ “incentive fund” – backed by the Berwick Shellfish Company – to see if it can’t buck them up a bit.

There’s also a story about a shop selling bamboo bikes, another about dozy devils being trapped on the Holy Island causeway and the unlikely headline “Spittal man admits spitting.”

Several scarves on the wall of the Barrels, an agreeable public house near the river, proclaim “Berwick Rangers: dream team” – though it’s more likely that supporters these days wake up screaming

Down from Coatbridge, a group of Albion fans is asked how their team came by its name. “Irish, isn’t it?” says one, though Albion originally meant the whole of Great Britain – as in the white cliffs of Albion.

The phrase “perfidious Albion,” says the Oxford, applies only to the English.

Once Berwick itself seemed torn between England and Scotland, Jocks and the Geordies almost. Even the club crest features the lions of both countries with a bear – said to resemble a bear peeing against a tree – keeping them apart. These days they appear francophiles.

Another bar’s called the Atelier – studio? – and has a charcuterie attached. Elsewhere there’s a patisserie, even a boulangerie. It doesn’t sell scotch pies.

The Shielfield ground – home since 1954, the year before Berwick joined what then was the Scottish Division B – is on the southern bank of the Tweed, has a main stand brought from Bradford City by train and another called the Ducket, as in pigeon cree.

A trickle, little more, heads that way. However parlous the occasion, there’s not going to be a Black and Gold rush.

When last the column wrote of Berwick football, August 2011, it followed the town hall launch – great, greasy pies – of Tom Maxwell’s hugely enjoyable book The Lone Rangers.

That week’s Berwick Advertiser carried a story about dozy devils having to be rescued from the Holy Island causeway.

Tom had been born in Scotland but proudly professed Englishness. “I know I should consider it an honour to come from the country that’s produced the television, the telephone and the Krankies,” he conceded.

Asked by schoolboy contemporaries which team he supported, he’d always reply Berwick Rangers.

“Yes,” they’d say, “but who’s your big team?”

In the Free Trade, near the station, a group of elderly gentlemen of uncertainty ethnicity had been discussing Josef Locke, the singer, and were joined by a new arrival.

“Josef Locke?” he said, “isn’t that near Fort William.”

Tom’s book recalled that Berwick’s two leading scorers were both English – Ken Bowron, a Geordie who taught in Berwick (“the kids would shout ‘|Come on, Mr Bowron’,”) and also played for Bishop Auckland and Crook Town and Eric Tait, bought for £50 and two footballs and scorer of 106 goals in 500 games.

Eric later became team manager and it’s he into whom we bump soon after paying the £8 old folks’ admission. “These are desperate days,” he says. “We’re talking play-offs at best.”

Shielfield’s also home to the Berwick Bandits speedway team – “Live speedway,” it says over the gate, presumably to differentiate it from the other sort – the fence behind the goal so far from the pitch that, should anyone be foolish enough to contemplate an invasion, the stewards would have time to send to Morpeth for reinforcements.

They’ve also one of those ursine mascots, possibly wearing a skirt and possibly a kilt. These days it’s hard to tell; these days it doesn’t seem to matter.

The clubhouse is hung with memories of better days, the beer seems almost as old. An Albion fan with “The prof” written on the back of his replica shirt is asked what chair he holds. “Top table when the wife’s awa’” he says.

Also among the crowd is Stuart Bell, a railwayman from Redcar who many years ago forewent his Sunderland season ticket in search of something more exciting and took out tickets for Berwick instead.

Redcar Looney, his social media moniker, may sum the improbability of it all.

Stevie Carter, secretary of Ebac Northern League second division side Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, became a Berwick fan at Hogmanay 1988 after watching a match with Brechin City. “There was nothing else on in England,” he explains.

Stevie’s gloomy. “The manager can’t get any Edinburgh players to play for him and the defence wouldn’t get a game for Durham City,” he says.

Durham City, it should be explained, finished bottom of the Northern League second division after leaking 123 goals in 38 games.

In the programme, a small-print page headed “Unacceptable behaviour 2018-19” acknowledges that football is a game of passion, though it’s hard to detect much on or off the field.

Whatever happened to Berwick Shellfish Company’s incentive scheme?

Rangers trail 2-0 at half-time. When Rovers’ third is wildly celebrated shortly afterwards, half the crowd heads for the gate. Whether they’ll haste back is anyone’s guess: for the moment they’re probably headed for the pub, and tempted to give both Barrels.