Its A New Dawn, Its A New Day…

One year on, from his first press conference as manager of Workington, Mike Lowe had started to put his plans of reshaping the club into action. His reshaping process started with changes with his backroom staff, which saw the addition of two new coaches, as well as Viv Busby being replaced as assistant manager by Aaron Maguire.

Changes were also made to the playing staff; with Alan Murphy being promoted to club captain in only his second season at the club. There were also a number of players brought in to add to last years squad. Some of the most notable signings were;

James Yeboah(former Tottenham Trainee)

Oliver Modeste(former Tottenham Trainee)

Ellis Wall(former Chesterfield Trainee)

Tonton Zola Moukoko(former Djurgarden, Derby & Atlantis Midfielder)

Cole Stockton(former Tranmere Striker, with 2 League One Appearances)

Pre Season:

With so many new players, and young players at that Lowe set about organising a very intensive pre season programme with included 10 games.

It started with games against Watford & Sunderland, games which they lost 4-2 & 2-0 respectable. But after those two games, their pre season got really going. With 8 straight victories scoring 30 goals and only letting in 5 which included 4 clean sheets. The highlight of those 8 victories was a 3-1 victory over Carlisle.

Season Proper:

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 a season of over achievement, the bar was set very high for the upcoming season. After last season’s playoff defeat the fans were at least expecting their side to make another push for the playoffs. But the press were still very sceptical about Workington, predicting they would finish only 8th.

The season started very strong with Workington notching up 8 victories and only 1 defeat, finding themselves in second place, putting their playoff defeat behind them in some fashion. Scoring 23 and only conceding 6, some of there victories were quiet impressive with a 4-1, 5-1 & 4-0 amongst them. Tommy Amos & Cole Stockton had also stuck up a fine partner ship scoring a combined 12 league goals, while Tonton Zola setting up 5 goals.

After 23 games of the season, Workington could be found in second place, and just 2 points behind league leaders. This great league position was all the more impressive despite a run in which they only had 1 victory in a 4 game span. Tommy Amos was the clubs top scorer with 10 goals and Dave O’Connor was the creator of goals with 9 assists.

With 10 games left in the regular season, Workington had finally made top spot their own, 8 points clear of second place Histon. Heading into such a crunch stage of the season, Workington found themselves in a good position, with no major injury worries. It looked like the only way Workington weren’t going to win their first ever league title was if there was a major implosion at Workington.

With only 2 games left in the season, Workington were crowned champions after a 3-2 victory over Guiseley. This was the first league title won by Workington.

So as the season ended, Workington finished champions on 89 points from their 42 games. In a season in which they didn’t find themselves outside the top 2 since the 8th game of the season. It was a great season for both the club and manager. Mike Lowe, for the second season running confounded the media by finishing well ahead of their expectations.

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Top Scorer: Tommy Amos(16 Goals)
Top Assist: Dave O’Connor(16 Assists)
Most MOM: Cole Stockton(4 MOM’s)
Ave Rating: Tonton Zola Moukoko(7.26)

FA Trophy:

After falling at the first stage last season, not many people were expecting Workington to do much again this year in the competition. Starting the competition with an away trip to AFC Telford, drawing 1-1 but winning the replay 1-0 thanks to an own goal.

So now Workington, found themselves into the competition proper, drawn against Southport and drawing 2-2, so yet another replay awaited them. But this time the replay was away from home, but this didn’t phase Lowe’s men, who won the game 2-0.

2nd Round: -v- Maidenhead 2-0 Victory                                                                               3rd Round: -v- Bromley 0-0 Draw
3rd Round Replay: -v- Bromley 7-3 Victory
4th Round: -v- Dover 3-0 Victory

After playing 8 games in the competition, which included 3 replays Workington found themselves in the Semi-Final’s. Where they were draw against Blue Square premier outfit. In the 1st leg, Workington drew 2-2 at home, thanks to a 85th minute equalizer from Victor Zapata-Caicedo. With the 2nd leg being away from home it was going to be an uphill challenge for the Blue Square North outfit. 23 minutes into the 2nd leg Workington took the lead, but 1 minute later were down to 10 men. Workington ran out 2-1 winners and were into the FA Trophy Final.

In the Final, Workington were set to face Guiseley. The first cup final for manager Mike Lowe and it was going to prove to be his biggest test. The game was also on TV and to be played at Wembley. With the game just about to go into the 45th minute, Dave O’Connor popped up and scored the one and only goal of the final, as Workington ran out 1-0 victors and Workington won their first Cup.

FA Cup:

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…

2nd Qualifying Round -v- Hemel Hempstead 2-1 Victory                                                     3rd Qualifying Round -v- AFC Hornchurch 2-0 Victory                                                         4th Qualifying Round -v- Kidderminister 2-0 Lose

Unable to make it into the competition proper was disappointing for the club, but their exit from the FA Cup was certainly not a sign for things to come for Workington’s season.

End of Season Round Up:

Overall Top Scorer: Cole Stockton(21 Goals)                                                                         Overall Top Assist: Dave O’Connor(20 Assists)                                                                     Overall Most MOM: Cole Stockton(5 MOM’s)                                                                 Overall Ave Rating: Oliver Modeste(7.21)

Fans Player of the Year: Dave O’Connor

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Mike Lowe’s Season Highlight: Doing the double(League & FA Trophy)
Mike Lowe’s Season Lowlight: Failing to make it into the FA Cup proper

Misc:

Finances remained in the red with the figure suggested to be £210,000 after the club recorded a loses of £80,000. In response to the reported loses, Mike Lowe said that there would have to be a revaluation of the squad but the wage budget would in all likelihood remain the same for the next season. Despite these loses, Workington had the 2nd lowest wage bill in the Blue Square North, which really puts their successful season into a whole new level of achievement.

Also after months of speculation, Workington captain Alan Murphy confirmed that he would be leaving at the end of the season when his contract ran out. No word, as to weather or not his to sign with another club.

Winning the league & cup double has really brought Mike Lowe to the attention to clubs further up the footballing pyramid, with Leyton Orient having approached him to fill their vacant management position. But Lowe turned down the job offer sighting his promise to the fans of Workington “To bring Workington back into the league”.

Despite the poor financial position of the Club, it was announced that Workington will move into a new stadium in 2015.

…End of Season 2

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Working ton a Dream

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.

Pre Season:

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)

Season Proper:

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 playoffsTommy 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.

Top Scorer: Tommy Amos(15 Goals)                                                                                     Top Assist: Paul McLuckie(9 Assists)                                                                                     Most MOM: Tommy Amos(7 MOM)                                                                                         Ave Rating: Ryan Carolan(7.19)

FA Trophy:

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.

FA Cup:

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…

2nd Qualifying Round -v- Wealdstone 3-1 Victory                                                               3rd  Qualifying Round -v- Northwood 3-1 Victory                                                                 4th  Qualifying Round -v- Luton 0-0 Draw                                                                                 4th  Qualifying Round (Replay) -v- Luton 1-0 Victory

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:

Overall Top Scorer: Tommy Amos(16 Goals)                                                                         Overall Top Assist: Paul McLuckie(9 Assists)                                                                         Overall Most MOM: Tommy Amos(7 MOM)                                                                             Overall Ave Rating: Ryan Carolan(7.10)

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

Misc:

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