Updated: Jan 5
I love Charlton Athletic and everything about it (current owner excepted), but I care more about perennial underdogs Workington and the often-ignored part of Cumbria they represent.
If I was asked to distinguish my feelings for my two favourite English teams, I would say I follow Charlton Athletic, but I support Workington.
Apart from purchasing the occasional piece of Charlton merchandise, mainly books, over the years and having attended just three matches at The Valley, my financial input to the Addicks has been next to nothing (just in case my wife Ann is reading this!). Charlton deal in millions while Workington endure a hand-to-mouth existence. Charlton received £3.5 million from the sale of eighteen year old defender Joe Gomez to Liverpool; Workington supporters are currently a quarter of the way towards raising £8000 to be made available to the new Reds manager in order to strengthen his squad.
Charlton took 38,000 people to Wembley for the recent play-off final and their last League One match at The Valley attracted a crowd of 25,428; that’s 200 more than Workington’s entire population. I love Charlton Athletic and everything about it (current owner excepted), but I care more about perennial underdogs Workington and the often-ignored part of Cumbria they represent.
The season just ended has seen Workington relegated to English football’s eight tier, whilst Charlton’s play-off triumph over Sunderland has moved south-east London’s finest back up to tier two, the uber-competitive English Championship.
That’s probably Charlton’s natural place in English football’s hierarchy, although there are a number of smaller clubs managing to prosper in the Premiership. It seems unbelievable now, but Workington were once a tier three (Third Division) club. It’s a safe bet that they will never again be an English Football League club but it’s only a few years since they were at tier six and consolidation at that level must surely be their longer-term aim.
Under the surprisingly effective leadership of Lee Bowyer, a famed football bad boy (both on and off the park) in his earlier years, Charlton Athletic looks set to have a successful season in the Championship…assuming the club’s crazy Belgian owner manages to offer Bowyer an extended contract before his current deal expires and the ex-Charlton wonder kid is poached by another club.
In Danny Grainger, Workington have appointed a manager who seems to have a clear idea of what he wants to achieve and also appreciates the geographic and thus economic limitations of the club he now leads. So the prospects for my two teams in red are encouraging …and of course my favourite Dutch team Sparta Rotterdam are now back in the Eredivisie. Plenty to look forward to…but let’s hope it’s the team who wear the Dutch national colours who will do best of all in 2019-20…and I don’t mean Blackpool.