The Original Reds

Chapter 9 – 1892/93

The big change for the new season involved the Reds moving home again, with the official opening of their new Ashfield ground taking place on the 3rd September. Annan provided the opposition, and Harpwood, Watt and Croall scored the Workington goals in an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Workington lined up as follows:
T. Brown: Croall, Dickinson, Durnion, Gardner, Guirdham, Spooner, Waite, Watts, Harpwood and Winstone.

Major changes in personnel for the new season (in which Workington’s colours were officially recorded as being Red Jerseys and Blue Caps!) involved losing Tom Biltcliffe, and, toward the end of the season, recruiting John (Jim) Clarridge.

A forward by trade, but more than capable of playing in any position, Tom Biltcliffe had been one of Workington’s founder members, having been with the club since the start. He had made well over a hundred appearances for the Reds, and captained the side in both the 1887/88 and 1888/89 seasons. He played in six County Cup Finals, only missing the 1889 final due to injury, and scored three cup final goals. He had also been a regular member of the Cumberland Association representative side. He was the first of the stalwarts to leave the club as the original side began to break up. 

Newcomer Clarridge was to become a club legend, playing and scoring goals regularly for the club over the next decade.

The first competitive game of the season came on the 15th October, when Workington made their way to Fleetwood to play an FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round tie. There was no luxury coach travel in those days, and the team had to spend six and a half hours on a train to get to Fleetwood, having left Workington at 6.30 in the morning! In addition, a number of the players, as amateurs, had worked all night prior to going straight to the station. It was therefore no great surprise that, in spite of scoring first, the Reds miserable FA Cup record continued, and they were hammered 9-1.

Workington’s FA Cup record now read – played four, lost four, and with a goals record of 1-28! Oh well, perhaps next year.

The Association League resumed again, with Chapel Bank Rovers dropping out and being replaced by the up and coming Black Diamonds (Workington). The league was again a rather hit and miss affair, and it appears that not all fixtures were completed. Certainly there is no record of the Reds away fixture against the Diamonds ever having been played. 

Workington’s opening match in the league took place at Ashfield on the 22nd October, with Distington providing the opposition. This was clearly a feisty affair, with one paper recording:

‘Owing to some dispute, Distington walked off the pitch. It took some time before they were persuaded to return, and the match ended in darkness!’

Despite this, the Reds won the game by the odd goal in three.

Whether or not any bad feeling from this match lingered is not known. However, Distington did get their revenge when the return fixture was played in December, as they inflicted the Reds only league defeat of the season by winning 1-0.

Although only losing one league match, Workington did drop a number of other points in draws with Frizington Rovers (twice), Keswick and Moss Bay, indicating that some other clubs were catching up fast.

Still smarting from the previous season’s unexpected Cup Final defeat against Moss Bay, the papers were full of how ‘Workington are intent on regaining their crown, and are confident of doing so.’

Having received a bye in the first round, the Reds were drawn at home to Distington in the second, with the match taking place on the 25th February. Workington certainly didn’t have things all their own way, but despite several dodgy moments they reached the semi-final by winning 5-3.

In the semi-final they were drawn, inevitably, against Moss Bay, with once again the local papers ramping things up by declaring this was ‘Workington’s chance for revenge’.

The match took place at Keswick on the 4th March, and Workington fielded the same X1 that had seen off Distington in the previous round:
T. Brown: H. Brown, Croall, Durnion, Gardner, Guirdham, Hawkins, Kaye, Murray, Spooner and Waite.

If losing in the final the previous season was a shock, not even getting there this time was unbelievable! Despite a goal from Workington’s Waite, all match reports recorded that Moss Bay fully deserved their 2-1 win. So, for the first time in the competition’s history, the Cup Final was to take place without Workington being involved.

For the record, Moss Bay retained the cup by beating Keswick 4-2 in a replay. Both matches were held at Ashfield.

Aside from the League and Cup matches, Workington had the usual full list of friendly fixtures played during the season. One of the most amazing was a game in April, against their cup bogey team Moss Bay. In a game of no less than sixteen goals, Workington won by 9-7!

At the end of the season, despite no final table being produced, the press announced that retaining their League title was some consolation for failing so badly in the cup.

The Cumberland FA, with old Reds stalwart Fred Hayes being a member of the Executive Committee, again organised a number of representative matches. These were against Cleveland in September, Cheshire in October, and Northumberland in November. Workington were, as always, very well represented, with Tom Brown, Guirdham, Waite, Spooner, Durnion, Gardner and Burrows all receiving county caps. Indeed, Reds forward Durnion scored against both Cleveland and Cheshire, whilst team-mate Spooner scored against Northumberland. The results of these matches however show that football in Cumbria still had some way to go, with defeats to both Cleveland (1-8) and Cheshire (3-7), the one crumb of comfort being a 3-2 victory over Northumberland.

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