Reds should have been preparing to host Colne in the final match of the NPL North West Division campaign this week. It could have been a ‘dead rubber’ with neither side in contention for promotion or, potentially, the match coming into the crucial, very important category with a winner takes all scenario.
Instead, the 2020-21 season actually concluded nearly five months ago and, for the second year in succession, was declared null and void.
The curtailed campaign saw Reds play just nine games and ‘finish’ in 3rd position with 19 points in a league table still in its infancy. For what it’s worth, Colne were leaders at the time the authorities called a halt, three points ahead of Ramsbottom United and Danny Grainger’s Reds.
It is all hypothetical and somewhat irrelevant but, had the last two season’s record been combined, our cumulative total would have amounted to 90 points from forty games, certainly title winning credentials in normal circumstances.
Of course there has been much speculation and wishful thinking on our part, assuming Reds would be in a similar situation to that at the start of Lockdown following our game at Tadcaster Albion in March 2020.
We certainly weren’t playing with as much fluency or confidence at the beginning of this season as we were at the end the 2019-20 term.
Unusually, the late start to the season saw us get underway with an FA Cup tie at Knaresborough Town with skipper Conor Tinnion scoring our first goal of the campaign in a 3-1 victory.
The league programme eventually got underway at Pickering Town on the 19 September but we suffered the shock of our lives after going two goals behind following a poor first half showing. We managed to salvage a point with late goals, one from Scott Allison the other from Reuben Jerome.
There was a dramatic improvement a few days later when we travelled to Radcliffe in the FA Cup. For seventy minutes we produced a stunning performance establishing a 3-1 lead but the wheels came off in the later stages and we made our exit from the competition in a bizarre 5-3 defeat.
Two far from convincing league performances followed – a goalless encounter at Kendal before we were held by Trafford at Borough Park. The latter, on the 29th September, was actually our first home game.
It hadn’t been the best of starts to the league programme – three draws against ‘lower-ranked’ opponents – but October saw a return to form and five league wins, plus two in the Trophy, suggested we were back on track.
The month started with a 5-2 home success over City of Liverpool thanks to a combination of youth and experience. Reuben netted two of the goals with teenagers Liam Brockbank, Louis Potts and Carl Lightfoot all scoring their first league goals at Borough Park.
Significantly, we recorded an excellent 1-0 success at Colne after a superb, dogged battle with the winner via a Scott Allison penalty.
The brilliant sequence of results throughout October included a dramatic 2-1 win over another title rival, Clitheroe, with Reuben Jerome scoring both including a stoppage time winner. An opponent that night would, eventually, become a Red.
After two away draws in the FA Cup, there were no home comforts in the Trophy either but wins at Pontefract and Glossop saw progress being made.
Scott Allison’s goal in the 3-0 victory at Ossett United was his 127th in Workington colours and, in equalling Gareth Arnison’s total, culminated in two ‘modern era’ strikers join a list of notable club goal scorers.
Another milestone saw Conor Tinnion turn out in his 300th game for the club.
By the end of October, the Government announced a mini Lockdown and football, and many other aspects of normal life were put in limbo once more as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc.
The action and training was suspended but we returned, briefly, in December playing three matches – a Trophy tie, a friendly and what proved to be our final league fixture at Brighouse Town.
Lockdown 3 effectively ended our season there and then with the first team squad and the club mothballed.
Twenty seven different players pulled on the shirt during the curtailed season with two of those, Liam Brockbank and Dan Wordsworth, playing in all fourteen league and cup matches. Three of them, Conor Tinnion, Brad Carroll and Scott Allison, skippered the side with the latter pair deputising in Conor’s absence.
Twelve players shared the 31 goals we scored with Reuben Jerome and Scott Allison leading the way with eight apiece. At the other end of the pitch, Jim Atkinson (one of three goalkeepers used) kept five clean sheets.
Two penalties were awarded in our favour and we conceded one – all three were converted.
Sam Smith was the only player sent off whilst twenty eight yellow cards were shared by thirteen different players.
Attendances were restricted to 400 at Borough Park and three of our games attracted a 400 ‘gate’ and the other game was watched by 393 spectators.
The departures of Jordan Holt, Jay Kelly, Louis Potts and Liam Brockbank were announced and we thank all four players for their efforts during their time at the club.
One new arrival joined the evolving squad with the club delighted to welcome Iyrwah Gooden to Borough Park.
A young Development Squad have played their football in the Cumberland County League and, supplemented by a number of friendly fixtures, had sufficient games throughout the stop/start season.
Several members of the squad have trained regularly with the first team and featured on match days.
The Reds Ladies team, meanwhile, have experienced a torrid time and haven’t played a league game at home for fourteen months.
One member of the team tested positive for Covid 19 back in October and that and the lack of competitive football has meant a frustrating year for all concerned.
On a positive note, they received a £500 Football Foundation grant to help their eventual return to the game they have missed so much.