On the 5th July 2011, the Workington board announced that manager Darren Edmondson would leave the club with immediate effect. Before the Workington fateful had time to digest the news, an unknown Irish manager was appointed in the form of Mike Lowe. Workington are a club which have experienced so much heart break, which all started at the end of the 1976/77 season when they failed to win re-election to the football league at the expense of Wimbledon.
Lowe’s appointment was a surprise for many reasons, firstly the fact that he was inexperienced but because former Hartlepool and York manager Viv Busby wasn’t offered the managers post but instead stayed on in his role as assistant manager.
Mike Lowe’s first job was to evaluate the group of players he had to work with, and took charge of his first game against Scottish outfit Kilbirnie Ladeside. A game that Lowe’s side won 3-2, this was followed up with a 2-1 victory over Carlisle. As pre-season finished up, Workington had played 6, with 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats.
Mike Lowe also brought in a few players to bolster his squad, the most notable signings were;
+James Gilpin(former Celtic & Doncaster Goalkeeper)
+Alan Murphy(former Longford & Shelbourne Full Back)
+Dave O’Connor(26 year old, Irish left winger)
+Jim Hamilton(Experienced Scottish Striker, 299/59 SPL Apps/Goals)
With Pre-Season in the books, it was time for the seasonto kick off. With the club competing on a number of fronts, in the Blue Square North(BSN), FA Trophy and FA Cup.
Blue Square North:
After finishing 11th in the 2010/11 season, the media had predicted a 12th place finish for Workington in the upcoming season.
As the season got started, it was clear that Mike Lowe and his men, weren’t content with mid table mediocrity as they started off with 5 wins, 3 draws and only 2 loses in the opening 10 league games…leaving them on 18 points and in 8th place, Jim Hamilton scoring 6 goals.
At the half way point, Workington found themselves lying in 7th place…just outside the playoff places. Former Wigan striker Tommy Amos climbed to the top of the clubs scoring charts, banging in 9 goals in the first half of the league campaign. There were a number of other players who impressed, Ryan Carolan, Alan Murphy and Phil McLuckie(who got 7 assists).
With 10 games to go in the regular season, Workington found themselves in 4th spot and on course for the playoffs…Tommy Amos, Gareth Arnison & Jim Hamilton, having scored 28 goals between them of the clubs 49 goals, they were proving to be invaluable. But heading into such a crunch time of the season, Workington were without the service of each of the three strikers through injury and suspension.
As the curtains began to fall on the league campaign, there was only one league game remaining. Workington were still in with a change of making the playoffs but it wasn’t all in Workington’s own hands. They were lying 7th in the table and needing Histon to drop points…Workington had two youngsters to thanks for scoring the goals in the absence of the more established players, Danny Fernandez and James Taylor.
With an empathic 5-1 victory over Colwyn Bay in the season closer and with Staybridge beating Histon 2-0, a 5th place finish and the playoffs were the rewards for a great season. FC Halifax were Workington’s opponents in the playoffs to be played over two legs…
In the first leg, Workington were at home and lost 2-0, in a game were Workington were pretty much outplayed in all the important areas of the field. With a mammoth effort needed in the second leg, Workington came out of the traps fast, but each time they took the lead, FC Halifax begged the visitors back, with the second leg finishing 2-2 and FC Halifax running out 4-2 winners on aggregate.
All in all, it was a very promising season for Workington. Finished well above the media predicted 12th place and as you can see below, the club was in the top half of the league table for the vast majority of the season.
With the media predicting a mid table finish, nobody was expecting Workington to pull up any tree’s in the FA Trophy. Coming into the tournament in the third qualification round, they were drawn against Colwyn Bay. As a fellow BSN team, both sides were pretty evenly matched. Workington drew the game 1-1 at home, so are play was in order. Replay ended in another 1-1 draw, with penalties needed to decide who progressed into the next round…With Colwyn Bay progressing after a 5-4 victory in the shootout.
Being knocked out at the first hurdle wasn’t ideal for the club, as the board were a little disappointed but they still had faith in Lowe, who they still felt was the right man for the job.
One of the worlds oldest cup competitions and possibly the most romantic cup competition…But for a club of Workington’s stature, a possibility of winning such a competition would be a fairytale. But clubs at there level can always dream, and if winning the cup is out of the question, there is always the hope of giant killing.
But every club has to start somewhere, and for Workington their first match would be in the second qualifying round…
After marking their way through the qualification rounds it was time for the first round proper, this is where the giant killing and the dreams of glory really began. Although beating Luton in the final qualification round was a huge result for Workington, Luton who were a BSP outfit and had a lot more resources than lowly Workington.
As the first round draw was made, Shrewsbury were draw against Workington and new meadow. This was seen as a massive test by both Workington manager Mike Lowe, but also by the fans and boards alike. The game finish 5-0 to the home side, in the game Shrewsbury really showed their class while not even getting out of second gear…
End of Season Round Up:
Fans Player of the Year: Gareth Arnison
Mike Lowe’s Season Highlight: Beating Luton in the FA Cup
Mike Lowe’s Season Lowlight: Losing to FC Halifax 2-0 in the Playoff first leg
Finances are reportedly somewhere in the red with the figure suggested to be £120,000 after the club recorded a loses of £167,000. In response to the reported loses, Mike Lowe said that there would have to be a revaluation of the squad and the wage budget would need to be reduced.
Also after months of speculation, Workington Goalkeeper Jack Gilpin was confirmed to be signing for Galway United in the Airtricity league after failure to agree a new deal at Workington.
There is also rumours that Kyle May as well as a number of the back room staff could be soon on their way out of the club, with speculation of assistant Viv Busby not interested in signing a new deal.
…End of Season 1