After lingering at the foot of the table for the later stages of last season, before being condemned to relegation, Workington then found themselves bottom of the BetVictor Northern Premier North West section throughout the summer.
Thankfully, the latter hypothetical positioning was on an alphabetical basis only and not because of any perceived lack of ability.
Now the countdown is on until the start of the new campaign when, hopefully, Reds can begin to ascend the table and make amends for that depressing losing sequence earlier this year.
Nineteen teams may have something to say about that, of course, and here we assess the opposition we will face over the next nine months.
Finished a commendable 3rd in the East Division last term and expected to do well again this season under Vill Powell. We have never played each other before and it will be a few months before we welcome them to west Cumbria and even longer until we make the 162 mile trip (our longest journey) to the Huddersfield area.
City of Liverpool
Our first Saturday away game will take us to Bootle where COL is based. They were promoted last season after winning the Hallmark Security League title and the well-supported club will hope to maintain their progress this term. Never met previously but Reds youth team and reserves have played on the ground – without much success!
Struggled in the West section last season finishing third from bottom and, like Reds, lost fourteen league games on home soil. We have only played each other twice in league competition, recording a home draw and an away win in the North West Counties League back in the ’98-99 season. In recent years, we have met in the League Cup (winning and losing against them at Borough Park) and Trophy (we won at Shawbridge).
Managed a 4th place finish last term in the West Division and our only encounter with the current Colne club produced a League Cup win (2-1) there two seasons ago. Back in the late eighties, Reds met the old Colne Dynamoes team losing both matches (0-2 at Borough Park and a painful 0-6 on Colne’s sloping pitch).
Have experienced highs and lows since we started playing them in the late eighties and last season they attained a 14th place finish in the West section. The head-to-head shows very little between the teams, both recording nine victories each plus four matches ending in draws in the twenty two league encounters so far. However, during those previous matches we have netted 25 goals compared to Droylsden’s 26!
Newcomers Dunston powered their way to Step 4 football for the first time, winning the Northern League title by the small margin of 17 points! Under the management of the indestructible Chris Swailes, the north east outfit will, no doubt, quickly adapt to life at this level and our Boxing Day clash against them should be a cracker. We have never met in a league match but used to play each other regularly in pre-season when Tommy Cassidy was manager. They won three of the five meetings, Reds managed one victory and the other game was a draw.
The only team nearer to us than Dunston are our South Cumbrian neighbours, Kendal Town. We haven’t played them in a league game since 2004 but the head-to-head tells us that from 42 previous encounters, all in the NPL, we have won sixteen times with Town managing thirteen successes. They have won at Borough Park seven times and Reds have recorded seven victories at Parkside Road. They visit us next month with the return, on a Saturday, in February.
Accompanied us in the relegation stakes last season and, like Reds, will be hoping to bounce back at the first attempt. Only lost one of the last twelve games against them but our record in the eighteen games before that was dire – just one success! They have won eleven in total now, we have obtained ten victories with the other nine ending as draws.
Finished in mid-table last term in the East Division and will be hoping to improve this time around.
We have never played them previously but look forward to visiting their Mount Pleasant ground in October.
Although we famously met Mossley during our one season in the North West Counties League, we haven’t met under the NPL banner since the 94-95 campaign. The head-to-head record reminds us of how good they were in the late seventies/early eighties. In twenty-six league meetings in the NPL, they have won fourteen compared to nine Reds’ successes with just three draws. The goal ratio will take a while to match-up. We have scored 32 in the series, twenty fewer than Mossley. They finished 8th in the West section last term.
Although we met Ossett Town and Ossett Albion several times during our previous stint in the Northern Premier League, we have yet to face the merged club who were the draw specialists in the East Division last time out on their way to a 5th place finish. Manager Andy Welsh, a former team mate of Dav Symington in his Carlisle days, has played (and scored) at Borough Park.
Endured a tough debut season in the East Division last time out finishing 16th and the first-ever meeting between Reds and the Pikes will open the new campaign next Saturday.
Their away record (24 points) last term was quite good but they struggled at home (11 points) and only won twice at their tidy Mill Lane ground.
Will provide opposition for us on two Bank holidays – the first at Borough Park in August (provisionally) and the second at Beechnut Lane on New Year’s Day. We have never met before but know that they are one of the fancied teams this year on the back of their excellent campaign in the East Division – finishing runners-up to champions, Morpeth Town.
We came unstuck against Cables last year in a League Cup tie at Borough Park so won’t be taking them lightly this term. They finished 7th in the West Division but only champions, Atherton Collieries, scored more goals than they did and, if anything, it was their away form which prevented them reaching the play-offs. In four previous encounters in the NPL, we have won three and drawn once from matches played in the ’03-04 and ’04-05 seasons.
Dumped us out of The FA Trophy last season but league encounters between the two have produced two Reds victories and two draws from just four NPL meetings.
Reached the West play-offs last season after a 5th place finish.
Formed by supporters of the original Runcorn club we played in the late seventies but a new opponent as far as we are concerned. A progressive club who finished 6th in the West section, missing out on the play-offs on the goal difference ruling.
We will visit their new ground in October.
A football ground next to a brewery, what could be better? But their stadium is also close to the river and the ground has been submerged several times in recent years. We have never met previously and look forward to welcoming them to west Cumbria in November. Albion were based in the East Division last term, finishing a commendable 6th.
We have played the Manchester club a dozen times in the past winning five, drawing on three occasions and losing the other four. Reds have always managed to score at Shawe View but a 2-1 defeat there in 1998 confirmed our relegation to the North West Counties League. One of the best pitches in the League, thanks to Graham Foxall and his staff, and an early opportunity to play on it in what will be our first away game. A ninth place finish for them last term in the West Division.
I understand that this is the only ground in our division offering a 3G surface to play on. They are based at the Halton Stadium, home of Widnes Vikings RLFC, recently returning there after a spell playing at Barnton. We will play them for the first time in November. Finished in 12th position last term (West section).