Between 1992 and 1994, at the height of my enthusiasm for Workington AFC, I became a (self-appointed) salesman in Scotland for Reds Review, a monthly magazine dedicated to the West Cumbrian club. In the hope that the readership of the Scottish Football Historian quarterly magazine might include some potential subscribers, the following article was submitted to, and published by, SFH in Issue 54.

Reds Review

"Reds Review” is a monthly magazine produced in support of Working Association Football Club, the former Football League club from Cumbria. Its prime aim is to keep supporters up to date with all the news and views from Borough Park. Its longer-term objective is to promote and stimulate interest in Workington AFC in the hope that one day the Reds will return to the Football League.

Although Reds Review publishes letters and articles by supporters, this is no fanzine. There is no petty criticism of local rivals and more importantly, no swear words. As a result, Reds Review in a few short months since its inception is on sale from newsagents throughout Wes Cumbria. The magazine, which is A4 size, is packed with information, is well-illustrated and is attractively laid out. Content-wise, there is a nice balance between Workington AFC now and then. “Now” is a match-by-match account of life in Division One of the HFS Loans League (formerly the Northern Premier League) with reports, results, scorers, attendances, photographs, cartoons, league tables and text. “Then” is a review of major matches and personalities in the Workington story (many of the latter are Scots) in the “Looking Back” and “Feedback” features.

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Workington, second in England behind Nottingham Forest to register their colours as red, were founded in 1884 and spent many years in the old North Eastern League before finally securing Football League status in 1951. In 1977, they were replaced by Wimbledon. This expulsion had been threatening for quite a few seasons but it was still a terrible blow; it’s doubtful if there has ever been a club who cherished its Football League status more than Workington.

Promotion to the Third Division was gained on 25 April 1964 and this remains Workington’s greatest achievement but it’s fair to say the club’s high points are more accurately reflected in matches than titles. Also in the mid-1960s, the club reached two League cup quarter finals but two of Workington’s most famous matches were David v Goliath FA Cup ties in the 1950s.

On 12 January 1952, the largest gate ever to watch a Workington match (52,582) saw the Reds take on those other Reds at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup and lose narrowly, 1-0. Six years later, on 4 January 1958, Workington entertained Manchester United, again in the third round, and 21,000 packed into homely Borough Park to see the Busby Babes win 3-1, after Workington had led. A month after one of West Cumbria’s greatest football occasions, five of those United plyers on duty at Borough Park perished in the air crash at Munich.  

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In a club which has always had strong Scottish connections, some of the Scots players were very prominent. Club record goal-scorer Jimmy Dailey, a Scottish schoolboy international who had a spell with Third Lanark, was voted the Reds’ all-time favourite player in a centenary competition held in 1984; George Aitken from Edinburgh, who spent some time with First Division Middlesbrough, was Workington’s centre half for seven years and later became manager.

Jack Bertolini, the Scot from Sauchie with the Italian surname, was a smart, efficient inside right; goalkeeper Malcolm Newlands, who had five years with St. Mirren in the 1940s, played over 250 Football League fixtures for the Reds; Jackie Hinchecliffe, another ex-Scottish schoolboy international from Tillicoultry, was a key member of the Johnny Harvey-managed side and cheerful Charlie Wright from Glasgow was an extrovert goalkeeper in the early 960.

Two ex-Old Firm players, Rex Dunlop (ex-Rangers) and Dumbarton-born Alex Rollo (ex-Celtic) are also fondly remembered by Reds’ supporters. and a couple of other goalkeepers are also worthy of mention; local man John Burridge, who had recent Scottish connections at Easter Road, and a certain Jock Wallace. One man, however, stands out and twenty-five years after leaving Workington to manage Huddersfield Town, the great Bill Shankly returned to Borough Park in 1980 to open “The Shankly Lounge”.

In Reds Review, Martin Wingfield has produced a quality magazine which is already the envy of many Football League clubs. Its role during last summer, in ensuring the continuation of the club, cannot be overstated. Available from Martin at 7 Curzon Street, Maryport, Cumbria , CA15 6LL, an annual subscription costs £12 for nine issues. Reds Review is highly recommended to those Scottish football historians who have an affection for English ex-League clubs who have not given up the fight to re-climb the promotion pyramid.