A look through the diaries to see what was happening to Reds on the 3rd May in previous years………….
Twenty one years ago, on the Bank Holiday Monday, we were celebrating the first major championship since the club’s re-formation in 1921, after winning the North Western Trains (North West Counties) League following a remarkable fourteen match winning run.
We had gone into the final game of a wonderful campaign, a point behind leaders Mossley and needed the win to overtake them on the final day. And, on a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon that is exactly what happened.
Earlier in the season, we were 3-0 winners at Mossley but under circumstances far more relaxed than what faced us on that unforgettable Monday afternoon.
The seventies, eighties and much of the nineties had been tough supporting Reds, but all the hurt and pain was swept aside as Peter Hampton’s team recorded a rather nervous 2-1 victory and Workington were champions (pictured above) – albeit a level below our current status. It was a fantastic feeling.
The tension was lifted when Workington lad, Stuart Williamson, opened the scoring just after the hour mark and Grant Holt netted a second soon after.
Mossley then had their spell and reduced the arrears, present Ramsbottom United boss, Chris Willcock, scoring to ensure a grand finale. We survived and, after ninety minutes of mental torture the next few hours felt so rewarding.
The attendance of 2,281 was, pre-FC United of Manchester, a record for the North West Counties and the best for a league fixture at Borough Park for twenty seven years!
Nineteen years earlier, in 1980, Mossley were our visitors to Borough Park and they ended the day as champions of the single NPL division. We were in our customary ‘bottom two’ berth and suffered a 4-0 home defeat on the final day of the ’79-80 season.
Every single Workington supporter will tell you that we had to win our last fourteen league matches to land the title in 1999, but few will be aware that we ended that disappointing campaign on the back of a very poor run of fourteen games without a win!
Apart from that 1980 reverse, and an even heavier 5-0 defeat at Grimsby Town at the end of our first season in the Football League (1952), Reds have fared well on this day in the past.
Stuart Williamson, in particular, will enjoy reflecting on 3rd May. Not only did he score that crucial opening goal in the title decider, he also netted in 1997 and 2002 when Reds recorded last day victories.
His 1997 strike helped us overcome a depleted Droylsden outfit 4-0 in a game which saw Keith Hunton, our goalkeeper, sent off for the first time in his career.
Then, in 2002, he was on target again as Reds gate-crashed, and spoiled, the Harrogate Town promotion party.
Town had been presented with the NPL First Division trophy prior to kick-off by soap star, Zack Dingle, and then Reds had the audacity to win 2-0. Craig Lewis netted his first goal for the club, adding to Stuart’s first half header.
The crowd for that Friday night game at Wetherby Road was 1,109 with all spectators allowed free admission as a thank-you from the club.
Workington were the NPL’s draw specialists in the ’85-86 campaign with the eighteenth, 1-1 at Buxton, helping us to an 8th place finish. Billy Gilmour (inset) had a enjoyed a superb season and opened the scoring in that game with his 22nd goal of a campaign which culminated in him being named Player of the Year.
Reds were celebrating in 1966 after a notable 1-0 win at Swindon Town – our first, and only, Football League success against the Wiltshire outfit. Top scorer Ken Oliver’s twelfth goal of the season secured the points.
There was a Cumberland Cup semi-final success to celebrate in 1979 with Reds overcoming Carlisle City 3-1 at neutral Penrith. Keith Armstrong (2) and Tony Fowler shared the goals.
And Reds went one better in 2017 when we lifted the Cumberland Cup for the 26th time (pictured below) after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Penrith at Brunton Park.
Martyn Coleman had opened the scoring for the Blues but Scott Allison, with a rare header, forced the game into extra time and Dav Symington, who like Scott had been introduced as a substitute, scored a last-gasp winner.
Even our North Eastern League record on this day was impressive – three wins and two draws obtained from the five matches played.