Soapbox in Workington on the FA Cup trail

Phrases like “the quality shone through” and “good pedigree” somehow seem out of place when the subject is Workington football club. Pete Sixsmith finds a way of making them work …

Regular readers may be aware that I quite enjoy International weekends as it gives me an opportunity to go “somewhere else”. In the past few years I have made it to such diverse and exotic spots as Chesterfield, Barnoldswick and Hemsworth via Huddersfield.

This weekend, it was on the FA Cup trail with Shildon to Workington. The Reds are three leagues above The Railwaymen, just missed out in the Conference North play offs last season and are sitting in a play off place this year. They have a good pedigree, but were felt to be beatable as they had struggled against West Auckland in the previous round, before eventually triumphing 2-1.

Pete Horan, now a fully fledged Shildon season ticket holder, decided to make the trip with me. We considered the train (the fare of £72.00 put us off), thought about the coach (but Pete’s back was playing him up), so we decided to drive.

It gave me a chance to stop for a coffee at the wonderfully exotic Llama Karma Café on the A66, just outside of Penrith. Excellent coffee, llamas sitting serenely in the garden and Peruvian ponchos (made in Ecuador) for sale. You can hire the llamas for trekking and it is recommended for Hen Parties. Hmmm, not the ones I have bumped into. Goodness knows what they would do to the poor llama!!

Instead of landing in Workington for lunch, we decided to stop off in Cockermouth. It’s a lovely town, not one for miming the name of, but it has a wide main street and local shops for local people. Some are still closed after last years floods, but recovery seems to be ticking along nicely.

We repaired to the Bistro in Jennings Castle Brewery for a pint of the local brew and a light lunch. Mr Horan chuntered that he did not like Jennings Beer, but a superb pint of CockerHoop soon perked him up. I thoroughly enjoyed a pint of splendid Dark Mild and raided the shop for some bottles and other odds and ends, making it a very pleasurable stop on a glorious early autumn afternoon.

Arriving in Workington we skirted the town and parked up. Entering the ground, we gazed upon one of the best playing surfaces I have ever seen; finest Cumbrian turf, almost emerald green and so soft that you could have played snooker on it.

However, it was football that was the game of the day. Shildon started well and took the lead with a superb goal from Sam Garvie. Visions of Darlington at home in the 4th Qualifier lasted for all of 60 seconds as slack defending allowed Jonny Wright, the Reds centre forward, to equalise. Five minutes later they were ahead and were very much in control of the game.

The game appeared to turn back in Shildon’s favour when a Workington player was sent off for kicking out (although the Shildon player involved later admitted that he had not touched him) and then Wright, the centre forward, pulled his hamstring.

Most managers would have retrenched here, but Darron Edmondson, the Workington boss, clearly felt that attack was the best form of defence and continued to push on.

Their quality shone through and despite two good chances falling to us, Workington were by far the better side and deserved to win, although some of the younger and less sophisticated Shildon fans did not agree with this.

I had better get used to watching “other games” as there is a paucity of Saturday 3pm0s between now and Christmas. Villa and Stoke are the only ones we have and we have away games fixed for Sundays as well. It breaks up the rhythm and symmetry of home, away, home, away – but it is patently obvious that neither the FA or Sky give a hoot about that.

I’m already looking for somewhere interesting for next Saturday …

2 thoughts on “Soapbox in Workington on the FA Cup trail”

  1. I read your articles about following Shildon around the further reaches of England, and I couldn´t help noticing that your companion Peter Horan bore a strong resemblance to a former schoolmate of mine. It looks like he has turned into a generously proportioned Grandad, possibly inflated by a bike pump in some sort of freak accident and spray-painted with Grandad white hair, but still it looks like him. Does he moan about everything? To me, this would be the clincher.

    Rob Watson

  2. Well said, Pete.

    A fair reflection of the game and appropriate comment on the spirit of non league football. The majority of Shildon fans added a bit of atmosphere to Borough Park. Pleased you enjoyed your trip, which made an entertaining read.

    We wish Shildon all the best for the future.

    Workington season ticket holder.

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