At the end of a uniquely challenging year on and off the pitch, first-team manager Danny Grainger is proud to say that everyone involved with Workington AFC pulled together to make it through 2020.
Speaking over the phone today (New Year’s Eve), Grainger took the time to reflect on a calendar year with plenty more lows than highs and changes around the club, including Les Byers stepping down at Chairman today.
One of the latter lows will bleed in 2021, with the news yesterday that Borough Park won’t be seeing football in the immediate future with Cumbria put under Tier 4 restrictions.
Speaking firstly on the Northern Premier League postponements, he said: “It’s obviously really disappointing but we know that everyone’s health is paramount.
“We need to do everything that needs to done and there’s now a ray of hope with vaccinations.
“We’re gutted and to be honest, I don’t know how they’re going to finish the season with the amount of games that are left to be played.”
Having not made it past the halfway point of the 2020/21 season, Grainger admitted his gut feeling on whether this campaign will be seen through, as many believe the dreaded ‘null and void’ could once again be looming.
“I can’t see the full programme being completed with teams in our league having 30 plus games remaining,” he explained.
“There’s 22 weeks left to play now and that’s without call-offs or any other delays.
“There’s obviously some big decisions to be made now with the league and FA.”
Moving off the pitch, as mentioned earlier, Chairman Les Byers will be stepping down from his deeply-demanding role today and Dave Bowden will take the reins tomorrow.
Grainger has worked closely with Les since his own arrival in the summer of 2019, and had ‘nothing but praise’ for Byers.
“Les and I have had a good relationship ever since I came to the club,” commented the boss.
“He’s someone who I spoke to a lot and I was pleased when he came onto the board.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for him, he’s got the best interests of the club at heart and he wants the club to be successful.
“These types of jobs, it’s very trying when you have other commitments like work and family and it’s unfortunately been the case with Les.
“He’s been brilliant for me, I think a lot of him and I’m glad he’s staying involved at the club.
“Fingers crossed, we can keep on moving forward.”
Not only have people at club been integral to our survival throughout this difficult period, our large network of supporters have, too, and Grainger made particular note of their backing.
“We started 2020 in great fashion being top of the league and everything was looking rosy [before the pandemic began].
“The support throughout has been amazing – I openly say this in a lot of interviews: I think we’ve got the best fans in the league and one above.
“The support us through thick and thin on and off the pitch, especially, with things like fundraisers which have helped keep the club going and moving in the right direction.”
From the Reds Independent Supporters Club to the support for our Stay Home Record live stream and other initiatives, Grainger says ‘everyone’ has pulled together to make it through the year.
“I can’t thank our fan base and everyone at the club enough for this year,” he affirmed.
“With everything that’s going on; from the volunteers, the kitmen, the media, the board, the staff, the physios, the assistant manager and the players as well – in a very, very testing year – everyone has pulled together and tried to help each other.
“The way we’ve done things in 2020 is a testament to the club, and hopefully, we’ll have a more positive 2021 and be successful together again.”
Happy New Year from everyone at Workington AFC! We hope to see you safe and well soon.