Workington supporters will look back on 2022 in years to come and reflect on what a good twelve months it was for the club.
At present, the feeling is more of what might have been had it not been for the events on one afternoon in April. Dare I mention the name: Market Drayton Town FC and the 1-1 score-line there which virtually condemned the team to at least one more season as a Step 4 club.
The less said about that game the better but, suffice to say, we do get carried away with the importance of an event which means very little to those outside the four crumbling walls of Borough Park.
In a year when we bid a patriotic farewell to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we said good-bye to others a little closer to home: Clive Middlemass, Joe Wojciechowicz, Bob Todd, Albert White, Bill Doran and Cumberland FA stalwarts, John Twentyman and Fred Conway, among others.
Football-wise, Sam Smith scored the first Workington goal of the year with his side-foot winner v. Cltheroe back on 1st January sending the bulk of the crowd home happy.
It sparked a quite superb January with subsequent wins against Glossop North End (5-1), 1874 Northwich (4-2), City of Liverpool (2-0), Newcastle Town (4-0) and Runcorn Linnets (2-1) recorded in style. Six league victories in a month – Magnifique!
David Symington featured in most of those games and has enjoyed a great personal year. His goal at City of Liverpool ‘defied the laws of physics’ and started a portfolio of amazing spectacular strikes across NPL pitches in the north west. Strangely, his hat-trick against Newcastle Town was not ‘three of the best’ but more in the ‘ordinary’ category!
We did lose a Cumberland Cup tie at Carlisle City, however, with Jordan Palmer scoring twice against us.
There were plenty of Tinnions in the ground for the home clash v. Kendal Town. The skipper’s ten-month old twins made their first visit to Borough Park and Conor marked the occasion by scoring two superb free-kicks, one for Jack, one for Louis in a 2-0 victory.
It was celebration time in March, albeit twelve months later than anticipated, with dozens of players from past and present turning up to celebrate the club’s Centenary at a commemorative dinner. A special night.
Charlie Bowman played his final game for the club before a serious accident almost cost him his life. A forestry worker, he was struck by a falling tree and we were all left wondering if one of our heroes would actually walk again, never mind play football. It was great to see him (and the familiar smile) at the Kidsgrove match on Boxing Day.
April started well with wins over Colne and Bootle but our main rivals, Warrington Rylands, left Borough Park with a crucial point in the 2nd v. 1st encounter.
A defeat at Marine was even more damaging when two gentlemen, enemies at the time (Ben Hughes and Lewis Reilly), scored against us in a costly 2-1 loss. They would subsequently become members of the Workington family, fighting for us instead of against us.
The aforementioned draw at MDT, led to us missing out on a first-ever NPL title with Rylands emerging as champions, one point better off than Reds.
Despite the 25 league wins recorded, the fewest defeats and the least goals conceded, we missed out on promotion and were not mentally right for a tilt at the play-offs a few days later. Marine compounding the misery by beating us for a second time in April.
Manager Chris Willcock had overseen one of Workington’s best ever seasons in the NPL but he left the club a few days later which prompted the return of Danny Grainger for a second spell in the Borough Park hot seat.
The one link between the former and new manager was Steven Rudd, a dependable assistant and excellent coach who served the club superbly under both.
His departure after the opening game of the season was one factor to overcome in what was a rocky course to navigate. Three defeats were inflicted upon us in the first five league games which hadn’t been in the script.
There was a change in the Boardroom, too, with Dave Bowden resigning from his post of chairman and succeeded by Phil Norman.
A 7-0 success in the FA Cup at West Allotment Celtic equalled the club’s best away result in the competition and the reward was a return to the north east and a crack at South Shields.
The Shields tie and the league clash at Macclesfield two months later, saw Reds lose both high-profile fixtures. Those defeats hurt more than the freak result at Market Drayton – the lads were magnificent in both and deserved a victory in each!
Gradually, though, the team began to gel and an excellent Autumn/early Winter got us back into contention as promotion challengers.
Three frost-related postponements put our promotion bid on hold in December before we ended the year with a comfortable 3-0 home win over Kidsgrove Athletic. Prior to the game, the club paid tribute to Dan Wordsworth and Scott Allison after both had reached the 300-game milestone for Reds. How fitting that both should share the goals in our final outing of 2022!
Reuben Jerome and Dav (14 goals each) scored regularly throughout the year with no fewer than twenty-two different players getting their name on the scoresheet.
Crowds reached record levels in the non-league era and 16,742 spectators passed through the turnstiles during the calendar year.
Victories were plentiful with 24 (league) and 2 (cup) recorded during the period January – December. Our league record read: Played 37, won 24, drew 7, lost 6.
Two trophies found a way into the Boardroom – one a consolation prize we wished we hadn’t collected, the NPL West Division runners-up memento, the other the Whitehaven Cup which the Development Squad lifted after overcoming Aspatria in a final staged at Borough Park.
An excellent twelve months for the club, overall. Let’s hope 2023 is equally as successful.