So that’s it, they’ve all gone. I’ve just sold the last copy of ‘Pioneers’ and that means that every copy of my first attempt at writing a book about a club I’ve been watching for nearly fifty years, has been sold.

In the beginning, just after we’d been put into our first lockdown two years ago, researching the history of the original Workington ‘Reds’ was just an interest, something to do.

John Norman

I then thought it might be an idea to write some articles on the subject for the club web site, just to give Reds supporters something to read in the absence of live football. I had no intention of putting my research into book form. In fact I don’t really know how it happened.

However, gradually, and now having masses of material, the idea slowly took shape. I thought, what if I could put all this stuff together in a book, and maybe make a bit of money for charity at the same time. After all, the story of the original Workington AFC had never been told, and it deserved to be.

The charity was the easy bit. I had spent many Saturday afternoons with ‘Burnley Bob’ Atkinson watching the Reds, and Tony Hopper was one of my favourite all-time Reds players. They had both tragically died from Motor Neurone disease, so where any money raised would go to was a no brainer. It was then that, with the help and encouragement of Steve Durham and Paul Armstrong, along with the expertise of Lee Zaninetti, the idea of a book took shape.

In all honesty, and being totally naïve, I had no idea what getting my research into print entailed, or how traumatic it would be. It took, from start to finish, almost exactly a year. It was, genuinely, hard work.

However, the day I first saw the completed, printed copy of the book made it all worthwhile. Especially as it coincided with the centenary of the reformation of the club in 1921.

I thought a few copies of the book would sell, but I have been absolutely amazed, considering it is a bit of a niche subject, how much interest there’s been.

In order to convince booksellers to stock copies, obviously having no publisher and therefore doing everything myself (with Paul and Lee’s help) I’ve had to give more books away for nothing than I thought and give them a big discount. Still, I suppose they have to make a living. However, despite all the issues, I’m over the moon that I’ve managed to make almost £500 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which will go toward helping in their research into this horrible, and currently incurable, disease.

Since compiling ‘Pioneers’, I’ve accumulated a huge amount of further material. In fact so much that I’ve got enough for four more books! I fully intend to write a fully updated, expanded and more comprehensive ‘Complete Record’ of the first Workington AFC, a history of the original Workington’s biggest rivals, Moss Bay Exchange and the Black Diamonds, and a complete record of competitive football in Cumberland before World War One.

However, my next book, which is nearly complete, tells the stories of the often hugely successful, but also desperately tragic, lives and careers of fifty forgotten West Cumberland footballers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

These include Football League Champions, FA Cup Winners, International Trialists, mass emigration to all four corners of the globe, together with tragic deaths from industrial accidents, football injuries, illness, and in the trenches of Belgium.

Once again, any profits will go to charity, or perhaps, in return for everything, toward sponsoring a game at Borough Park. Who knows?

Thanks for buying the book. And, one final thought, if you ever think of writing a book, think twice, then go for a drink instead!

Best Wishes

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