Ground Number: 626
Tuesday 4th October 2016
Workington 1-3 Matlock Town
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round Replay
WORKINGTON AFC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The current WORKINGTON AFC were formed in 1921, though there is history of another club and other football activities going back way further than that. They started out in the North Eastern League and wererunners-upp of that league in 1939. In 1951, they were elected to the Football League, starting out in Division 3 North, and then Division 4 upon league reorganisation. Though they struggled at first, they soon adapted and by 1964 they had won promotion to Division 3 after finishing in 3rd place behind Gillingham and Carlisle United. They spend 3 seasons here, with a best ever finish of 5th in England's World Cup winning year of 1966. They would stay in the Football League until 1977 when they finished bottom and failed to win reelection. They were placed in the Northern Premier League, being relegated to it's lower tier in 1988. Results didn't improve however and 10 years later they had their lowest point when they were relegated to the North West Counties League. They bounced back immeditely though, with their one and only championship. Back in the NPL Division 1 they had a number of mid-table finishes before a 7th placed finish was good enough to win them promotion to the NPL Premier. It was a double promotion, as the following year they went up to the Conference North. Despite some good seasons here, finishing 3rd and 4th, they were relegated back to the NPL Premier in 2014. They've made the promotion playoffs in both seasons since their return, losing out to Ilkeston and Salford City.
The club have been regular participants in the FA Cup 'Proper' Rounds over the years with their best progress coming in 1934 when they reached the 4th Round before a 2-1 defeat to Preston North End. They generally do well in the competition, though the last time they reached the 1st Round was in 2007 when they lost to Bury. The League Cup saw them have great success, reaching two Quarter Finals in 1964 and 1965. The Quarter Finals have also been reached in the FA Trophy and FA Vase with a defeat to Stevenage Borough coming in the 2009/10 season. They reached the same point in the FA Vase in their only season in the competition, losing out to Bedlington Terriers. Local cup wins include the Cumberland Senior Cup, a competition that they have won 25 times.
Notable players to play for the club include Scott Carson and Paul Stewart whilst a number of famous names have served in the dugout including Bill Shankly, Keith Burkinshaw and Tommy Cassidy. The town of Workington itself has it's history based on coal and steel though after those two industries came to a close, unemployment became a big problem. Nowadays a lot of residents are employed locally at the Sellafield nuclear power plant. The most famous person to come from the town is the former Scottish international footballer Scott Dobie who also played locally for Carlisle United.
I'd been looking forward to my week off work for ages, and was hoping to see an FA Cup Replay on my venture north. But I was well aware that my chances were limited, so I made plans for a league game instead. Workington was a ground that I'd fancied seeing a game at for a while and they had a midweek game against Spennymoor. They also had a potential FA Cup Replay, but that wasn't on my mind when I booked accommodation. Talking of somewhere to stay, it was proving a bit of a pain. Despite Workington having a fairly humdrum reputation, the hotels there were asking upwards of £60 a night for a simple hotel room. So after much searching of places nearby I found a room in Ravenglass with excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. The only issue is that it was 25 miles away, but beggars can't be choosers. I was also glad on the previous Saturday when Workington drew at Matlock and I'd be seeing an FA Cup Replay after all.
On the day of the game I'd had a restless nights sleep the night before and woke up well before my alarm. After getting all my things together, I left home at 9.20. It was a bit slow getting out of Wycombe, but soon I was on my way. It was a long 300 mile journey, not helped by 2 sets of roadworks so I split it up by stopping at ASDA near Preston. The pigs in blankets bap was decent as usual, but the chips were pretty crap and tasted like they'd been in the hot cabinet for hours. Good progress was once again made, though the last 30 miles of the journey was a slow but very pretty drive through the winding roads of the Lake District. I got to my hotel in Ravenglass about 3, and after parking I went and checked in. I was happy to see that there was a decent looking pub near my hotel, and thought that I'd nip in there for a pint if I got back from football early enough. I relaxed in my room for a bit and was glad of the rest as my feet were aching from driving all day. I stayed in my room until 4.15 before going out and getting some pictures of the nice scenery in Ravenglass Village.
I left at 4.20 and had a frustrating trip to Workington. I didn't get to the town until 6, with the last mile or so taking 40 minutes. Then when I got to the ground the parking was players only. The adjacent car park worked out at £3.50 for the period I needed it. I fired up my Parkopedia app and found that several streets around the town centre were free and unrestricted after 6pm so I ended up parking a few minutes from Henry Bessemer Wetherspoons. It was a pretty nice one in terms of decor and food but only one real cider. I had a pint of Thatchers Gold with a Sirloin Steak and chicken combo for around £9 before taking a stroll to the ground. Entry was a rather steep £11 for step 3 footy, plus another £2.50 for the programme. It was a lovely ground though and I went around taking pictures before going in the bar and getting a pint of Strongbow Dark Fruits for a reasonable £2.50. Around 7.30 I went and found a spot on the halfway line to watch the game.
It was against the run of play but Matlock took the lead on 42 minutes when Ted Cribley struck a low shot from just inside the area. Workington had had the better of the half with Connor Tinion looking especially impressive but it counted for nothing as they went into half-time a goal down. This seemed to take the edge off the hosts and they fell further behind on 55 minutes when Darren Wiley extended Matlock's lead with a great volley from 15 yards. Despite their first half showing, Workington looked out of sorts in the second and Matlock made sure of the result when Michael Williams netted a penalty with 5 minutes remaining. I couldn't tell if the award was justified but Matlock deserved it based on how the game had gone. Dave Symington did pull one back with a decent effort late on for the hosts, but by then it was too little, too late. The majority of the 562 crowd went home disappointed then, but the visiting supporters who made the effort were rewarded with a fine win, and their best FA Cup win in years.
I made my way home , or at least back to my B&B. I stopped at Tesco before I went back to my car to get some cans to take back to my room. It was a decent journey back and I listened to BBC Radio Cumbria and discovered that Barrow had drawn 1-1 with Macclesfield. Carlisle had also played in the Checkatrade Trophy against Blackburn's youngsters and won. It's a competition I'm boycotting as it looks to be a backdoor way of getting B teams into the league, as much as they deny it. Even so, I was happy that Wycombe had beaten West Ham 3-0, as tinpot or not, wins boost confidence. I got back to my room at 10.40, having a couple of cans of Tesco Pear Cider and catching up online, before going to sleep around midnight.
BOROUGH PARK is in a good location near to the town centre, but that brings its own problems with parking. You can use the Tesco car park if you are going to be less than 3 hours, otherwise Parkopedia is a useful site to find the cheapest deal for your set of circumstances. The town has a good range of outlets including a reasonable Wetherspoons.
The ground itself is great, with 2 covered seating stands totalling 500. The rest of the ground has substantial terracing and around 1000 of that is covered behind one goal. Facilities at the ground are good, with a well-priced bar and some decent looking food coming out, although I didn't try any of the latter. The club shop was shut on my visit, though there was decent range of clothing, scarves and hats on sale at one end of the bar.