ON THIS DAY: 18 March – Tony Hopper’s final visit & Cup victory on a Sunday

A look through the archives to see what was happening to Reds on the 18th March in previous years – it has been the usual mixture of pride, embarrassment and tear-jerking emotion…….

2017   Stourbridge (home) 3-1   The importance of this Evo-Stik Premier Division clash between two clubs with play-off aspirations was secondary as a special person paid an emotional final visit to Borough Park.

Tony Hopper, our long-serving, former skipper, had recently been diagnosed with motor neurone disease yet, as the club’s special guest, attended the game and proudly walked on to the centre of the pitch, managing a diluted salute to the crowd.

Tony Hopper acknowledges the crowd

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as our ill-stricken hero acknowledged a guard of honour formed by Stourbridge and Workington players and took to the field one final time to be greeted by warm applause from everyone present.

It was a memorable, albeit emotional, afternoon at Borough Park and one which touched the hearts of players and spectators alike.

Sam Joel

The players responded with a performance which epitomised what Tony offered in every game he played – 100% commitment, honesty, skill, tenacity and calmness – culminating in a thoroughly deserved victory.  I’m sure Hopper would have approved.

Dav Symington opened the scoring and two cracking goals from Sam Joel established an unassailable lead, before Luke Benbow responded for Stourbridge, converting a late penalty.    

2010   Gillford Park (away) 0-1   Reds had played a Conference North fixture at Southport forty eight hours earlier and only one player who featured at Haig Avenue started this Cumberland Cup semi-final.

The match was decided in the Carlisle club’s favour when former Workington player, Michael Reed, netted a cracking second half winner.

Gareth Arnison

2006   Hinckley United (home) 1-1   The Hinckley party arrived ten minutes before the scheduled start, due to long delays on the motorway, so kick-off was put back half an hour.  The delay seemed to have some bearing on Reds’ performance because it was below par at best.

The visitors opened the scoring but Reds, captained by the aforementioned Tony Hopper, managed to salvage a point, thanks to Gareth Arnison’s spot kick equaliser five minutes from time.  

2000   Northbank (home) 5-1   The clubs couldn’t agree to play this Cumberland Cup semi-final on a midweek night so the tie was played on a Saturday afternoon, with Reds league fixture at Matlock postponed and rescheduled for a Tuesday night as a consequence!

Simon Tucker, one of several Northbank players with strong links to Reds, opened the scoring but we recovered to win as comfortably as the score line suggests.

Graeme Carr and Stuart Moffat scored their first goals for the club with Darren Wilson (2) and Graham Goulding completing a comfortable passage to the final.

1995   Caernarfon Town (home) 4-1   This was Reds best win against The Canaries in what proved to be the Welsh club’s final visit to Borough Park.

Reds raced into a three goal lead inside the opening half an hour thanks to goals from Paddy Atkinson, Steve Watt and John Holliday with man-of-the-match, Gary Messenger adding a fourth in the second half.

The win lifted Reds three places in the table on a day when former Blyth Spartans player, Simon Andrews, made his debut via the bench.

John George

1989   Whitley Bay (home) 1-4   An embarrassing afternoon for Reds who marked their 500th game in the Northern Premier League with an emphatic home defeat.

Bay were four goals ahead by half time and, although we stopped the rot after the break, it was certainly not one of our better afternoons.

As one disgruntled fan remarked on leaving the ground, “at least we won the second half.”  John George scored the consolation goal.

John Reach

1984   Burton Albion (home) 2-0   Workington had lost a league game at Gainsborough twenty four hours earlier but returned to winning ways with a Sunday success in a President’s Cup tie at Borough Park.

Allan Carruthers got the first in the semi-final, first leg tie with John Reach adding the all-important second goal in a confident Reds’ display.

1978   Boston United (away) 0-6   Our first trip to Boston’s former iconic home at York Street will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and came as a shock to the system.

Boston United

Still in transition in our first season post Football League, this was a painful reminder of how difficult life would be in the NPL.

Boston scored three goals in each half and hearing the final whistle was welcome relief on this painful Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire.  Jim Kabia helped himself to a hat-trick.

It was certainly no tea party!  

Dave Murray

1975   Scunthorpe United (away) 1-2   The Football League’s bottom two clubs faced each other at the Old Showground on a Wednesday evening with the home side coming out on top.

United’s long-serving duo, Angus Davidson and Graham Collier scored the crucial goals for the hosts with Dave Murray’s reply in vain.

This was Scunthorpe’s worst ever season and, although they took three points from us (it had ended 1-1 at Borough Park), they finished below us in the final table.

Mike Rogan

1972   Doncaster Rovers (away) 0-0   This was the start of a goal famine for Reds with six consecutive matches failing to produce a goal.  Fortunately, we obtained four goalless draws in that run including this one against Maurice Setters’ Rovers side.

Mike Rogan, our ever present goalkeeper, was happy enough with this clean sheet – one of twenty three to his name that season!

1970   Colchester United (home) 1-1 Tommy Spencer’s fourth league goal of the campaign helped us to another valuable point in the quest to avoid the re-election zone.

We managed to pull clear of the bottom four eventually – just.  We finished fifth from bottom with 38 points, Newport were one of four clubs below us on 37!

Peter Harburn

1961   Peterborough United (away) 1-2   Has there ever been a better first season in the Football League than that recorded by Peterborough during the ‘60-61 campaign?  They had been Midland League champions for five seasons in a row then swept all before them in their maiden season in the Fourth Division.

They had won with ease at Borough Park but found us a tougher nut to crack in the return.  In fact, a shock result looked a possibility at half time when Peter Harburn’s goal had given us the advantage. Posh won by the odd goal in three in the end and they were ultimately crowned champions, scoring 134 league goals in the process!

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