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On this day – 2 May

A look through the diaries to see what was happening to Reds on the 2nd May in years gone by…….

Amidst failed attempts at the play-offs and numerous relegation scraps, we can reflect on one night of glory when Workington AFC was actually successful.

Long before any of the current squad was born, thirty six years ago in fact, we won the NPL President’s Cup (pictured above and below) when, on 2 May, 1984, we nudged our way past Marine in a two legged final.

Joe Wojciechowicz lifts the tophy

After disposing of Chorley and Burton Albion, we drew the first leg of the final at Marine with John Reach scoring our goal in a 1-1 draw.

The success-starved Reds supporters turned out in force for the second leg on a Wednesday evening with the attendance announced as 1,125.

They were treated to a nervous 120 minutes of a tense, safety first football without a goal in sight.  A 0-0 draw meant we won on the ‘away goals’ rule!

Nevertheless, it was a trophy and, apart from the odd Cumberland Cup success, the first one lifted by a Reds captain for forty seven years!

Presidents Cup final programmes

Sadly, that remains the only winners memento we have obtained in thirty two (and a bit) seasons of NPL football.

Our involvement in the play-offs saw Reds play before decent crowds in 2010 and 2007.  Both were under the Conference North banner but we didn’t win either.

Reds had to travel to Alfreton for the second leg in 2010 already 1-0 down from the first instalment at Borough Park.

When Gareth Arnison opened the scoring, the ‘250 strong’ away following dreamt of better things but the Alfreton Reds equalised before half time, eventually won 3-1on the day and 4-1 on aggregate.

Having watched Reds at North Street in front of crowds around the 100 mark, the Sunday afternoon gathering of 1,575 created a superb atmosphere.

Three years earlier, in 2007, we travelled to Hinckley United for the first leg and after a fast, furious ninety minutes, had to settle for a goalless draw with Craig Johnston’s shot against the woodwork the nearest either side came to scoring.

There was a distinct lack of finesse and, of the eight yellow cards handed out, six were directed at our lads.

Once again, there was a good away following in the 1,000 plus attendance, commendable on a Wednesday evening in Leicestershire.

Matches on this day in the nineties did produce goals from relegation-threatened Reds.

In 1998 we said farewell to the NPL after a 4-2 last day win over Matlock Town.  Behind twice in the game, we eventually secured the points with a Kevin Rowntree brace and maiden goals from Shaun Todhunter and Karl Fillingham providing some cheer for the Borough Park faithful.

There was a successful battle against relegation in 1995 with Reds overcoming all the odds to win a match at Warrington Town.  The hosts needed to win to aid their promotion bid, Reds were in the ‘last-chance’ saloon.

It didn’t look so good at half time with Reds 2-0 down and that was still the situation with a quarter of an hour to go.

Then Martin Henderson scored that truly wonderful hat-trick after 75, 80 and 85 minutes (header, left foot and right foot) to inspire a memorable 3-2 victory.  Priceless!

There was end of season misery in both 1992 and 1988 which, in my opinion, made that win at Warrington so special.

Winsford United, on their way to promotion in 1992, strolled to a 3-0 win in west Cumbria – Reds’ 27th defeat of another depressing campaign.

But we escaped relegation on that occasion – given a reprieve when the Welsh clubs had to return to their homeland on the instruction of the FAW.

We toiled through the club’s worst ever season throughout ’87-88, culminating in an embarrassing afternoon on the final day.

 Workington   0    Rhyl   8.

There isn’t much to add to that result, suffice to say it was the heaviest home defeat in the club’s history.

The memory of that torrid afternoon, sadly, never fades but neither does the memory of a magnificent gesture after the game.  Rhyl director Stewart McCallum, who briefly played for Reds in the fifties, handed over a £500 cheque to club officials, a humbling experience on a traumatic day.

We did experience last day victories in the eighties, however.

To be fair, our 1987 win over Burton Albion was very much a hollow victory as the Brewers had played six times in the final week of the season.Substitute Kevin Rowntree scored twice that day (just like he did eleven years later) with Carl Burdon also on target in a 3-2 win and, due to Albion’s fatigue, our first in fourteen outings!       

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