Coatbridge is a town that lies ten miles east of Glasgow and is proud to call itself home to the Scottish lower division football club, Albion Rovers. This is a modest club and following the ‘Wee Rovers’ has been no glory-laden pastime for its small yet dedicated fanbase. This is football club support at the attritional end of the spectrum and if you’re masochistic enough to give yourself to this life, be prepared to demonstrate infinite patience and a certain grim stoicism at your plight.
In an age when our major football institutions are transcending the game to become shapeless, multinational corporations, minnows like Albion Rovers become ever more valuable as standard bearers of the game’s grassroots. Rovers remain a hark back to the original values on which our game was founded; a time when a club was truly representative of the community in which it was based and locals gave it support and rallied to its cause through a sense of strong civic pride, rather than because it offered the likeliest path to glory and success.
Which is also why Scottish football will always need people like the late Robin Marwick, a man who enjoyed a life-long affair with Albion Rovers dutifully recorded through the extensive handwritten records he kept about all aspects of the club. Robin assembled a collection of historical items spanning many decades which includes photographs, newspaper cuttings, club documents, match programmes and even telegrams.
A year after Robin passed away, the North Lanarkshire Archives have undertaken a welcome initiative to make his wonderful collection of memorabilia available to a wider audience. The Robin Marwick Collection will be available for the public to access from the archives at the North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre and not only does it showcase Robin’s passion for the history of Albion Rovers, it also provides a fascinating insight into Scottish football and the wider social history surrounding it. As a taster we’re sharing some of our favourite photographs from the collection with the kind permission of the Archives. Click any image in the gallery below to enlarge it.
Also, do take a look at the sterling work of the North Lanarkshire Archives at their main site. You can follow their activities on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. Other images from the Robin Marwick Collection can be viewed at their Flickr account. Our thanks go to Michael Mackinnon for his assistance with this article. Copyright of all images is reserved by Culture NL. They should not be used without permission of CultureNL Ltd.