Classic Match: Imps 4-1 Workington

In the absence of baseless transfer rumours and speculation, us writers have to find something else to serve you up during the close season. I was going to do a piece getting angry at those idiot Twitter accounts linking Matt Green with Salford or Bozzie with Luton, but if I do that I just continue the cycle.

Instead, ahead of announcing the Stacey West wingers (which you can still vote for here) I thought I’d cast my mind back to a year or two before I graced the earth with my presence, to a time when three of the nominees for the wingers spots were gracing two flanks of the Sincil Bank pitch, to a time when a team called Workington were still, working. Pardon the word play.

Workington were only a Football League club for a short time. They were elected in as members in 1951, replacing New Brighton, but immediately finished bottom of the Third Division North, surviving their own re-election. That season did bring them their first matches against Lincoln City too, the rampant Imps turning in a 10-0 aggregate win. Andy Graver grabbed a brace in a 3-0 win at their place in December of ’51, whilst 14277 saw us win 7-0 in the penultimate home game of the season. We won promotion to the Second Division with 69 points, forty points and twenty wins below us, they finished bottom. It was a sure sign of things to come, although the next year they finished second from bottom.

Workington v Manchester United, 1958 (courtesy of Workington AFC)

During the late 1950’s they were managed at first by Bill Shankly and became one of the last teams to play the Busby Babes before the tragic Munich air disaster, 21,000 crammed into their ground on that occasion, their record attendance. At the end of that season they fell into the newly formed Fourth Division. Arguably their best spell came in the mid 1960’s as they made the League Cup quarter finals twice in a row. In 1963/64 they even won promotion to Division Three, beating us 2-0 towards the end of the season in front of 3802.

By the time the two sides met on February 21st, 1976, both were in the basement division and had been for eight seasons. In 16 meetings they beat us just once, 2-1 in 1971 when Dave Smith, one of the wingers nominated, grabbed our only goal. We’d won nine of those games, including a 3-0 win at their place in 1972/73 where Brendan Bradley (2) and Dixie McNeil grabbed our goals.

Their visit to the Bank was the second clash between the two sides that season. We’d already been to Borough Park and won 3-0, Freeman, Graham and Fleming scoring as just 1200 fans watched on. 7069 were packed into Sincil Bank on the February after as Workington arrived for the return fixture. They were second from bottom, City on course for promotion to the third tier for the first time since 1961/62. Workington were managed at the time by Alan Ashman, a name perhaps not familiar to most. His trophies as manager included an FA Cup with West Brom and a Greek Championship with Olympiakos. He had even led Carlisle United to the First Division and spent a short spell as league leaders. All of that must have seemed a long way away by the time he arrived at Borough Park.

Ashman with the FA Cup in 1968

Graham Taylor had selection problems ahead of the game. with both Dennis Booth and John Fleming struggling. Neither made the game, but Terry Cooper did come through a late fitness test. Phil Neale got a rare start in place of Booth, whilst Alan Harding continued in the side as he had in the absence of Fleming during the 0-0 draw at Rochdale a week earlier. City were without a win in two, having lost 2-0 at Tranmere a fortnight previous. They needed a return to form.

Workington came out of the blocks on fire and rattled City. One can only imagine, after two winless games, that many of the home support must have been thinking the bubble had burst. The side second from bottom made all the early moves, hitting the post before taking an early lead. In the first minute Terry Cooper’s mistake allowed Eddie Kavanagh through, but his effort beat Grotier and struck the post. Nine minutes later Martin Harris threaded a pass through for Kavanagh and in his desperation to divert the ball away he sliced it into his own net. City 0 Workington 1.

Second half and whatever happened to Workington on page two



  1. Never fail to be impressed by Percy Freeman’s thighs!! No wonder he was never pushed off the ball by defenders

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