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Workington Town R.L.F.C. is a semi-professional rugby league club playing in Workington in west Cumbria. In the 2019 season they played in League 1, having been relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship. They finished runners up in the League 1 Playoff final against Bradford Bulls; they also finished runners up against Swinton in the super final.
|Full name||Workington Town Rugby League Football Club|
|Coach||Chris Thorman (Player/Coach)|
|2019 RFL League 1||6th|
|Challenge Cups||1 (1951–52)|
|Lancashire County Cup||1 (1977–78)|
|Second Division||1 (1992/93)|
|Western Division Championship||1 (1962/63)|
They became Rugby League Champions in 1951 and also won the Challenge Cup a year later in 1952. Their nickname is simply 'Town', though they are sometimes referred to as 'Worky' by fans of other teams. Their local rivals are Whitehaven, who joined the league three years after Workington Town.
Workington Town RLFC was formed at a meeting held in the Royal Oak Hotel, Workington in December 1944. Many of Workington Town's board came from local football team Workington AFC's board and the team would ground share with "the Reds" at Borough Park. It was decided at the meeting that the club should be registered as a business and that an application for membership of the Rugby Football League should be submitted. From those in attendance at that meeting the first board of directors was formed and the application for membership was agreed at a meeting held on 23 January 1945 at the Grosvenor Hotel, Manchester. They were the first side from Cumberland to enter the professional rugby league.
They first played their home games, wearing green and red hoops, at Borough Park. The first match against Broughton Rangers on Saturday 25 August 1945 attracted a crowd of 4,100 to Borough Park. Workington went on to win 27–5.
In their first season, they achieved the distinction of losing to an amateur side, Sharlston Rovers in the first round of the Challenge Cup, a very rare occurrence in those days. However, the first round was a two leg affair, and they were able to make amends in the return leg and progress to the second round.
1946–1969: Golden eraEdit
Gus Risman joined Workington Town as player-coach in August 1946 when they had been in the Northern Rugby League for only one season. In his eight years at the club, he made them into a team capable of beating Wigan or anyone else in the league. There was a club record 20,403 for the third round Cup game against St. Helens. Town finished third of 29 clubs but had a tough draw; the only Yorkshire teams they played were Bradford, Leeds, Halifax, Keighley and York. They played these five home and away as well as all the teams from Lancashire. All the top four that season were all from the Western side of the Pennines and Workington went on to become rugby league champions in 1951 by beating Warrington in the final held at Maine Road, Manchester.
The following season they then beat Featherstone Rovers 18–10 in front of a crowd of 72,093 at Wembley Stadium to become Challenge Cup winners; this was the first final to be televised. No other club, before or after, has lifted both these trophies within such a short period of their formation. During the 1954–55 season, Workington Town made it to the Challenge Cup final but were beaten 21–12 by Barrow. Owing to tension between the football club's manager Bill Shankly and the Town manager, Gus Risman and director Tom Mitchell, Town took a 150-year lease on the land at Derwent Park and built a new stadium. They moved out of Borough Park in 1956.
In 1962, the league was split into East and West of the Pennines; Widnes and Workington Town met at Central Park, Wigan, in the first final of the Western Division Championship on Saturday 10 November 1962. With two minutes remaining, Syd Lowdon dropped a goal to earn Workington a 9–9 draw. Later in the month Workington won the replay 10–0.
The record attendance at Derwent Park was set in 1965 when 17,741 spectators turned up for a third round Challenge Cup match against Wigan.
The early 1970s brought demise of Town as a power in the game and the fans dropped off making it very difficult for the management to come up with the cash to bring in top class players who were being enticed out of the county to other clubs. Paul Charlton took over as player-coach in 1975 and guided them to promotion. Local players returned to the club and a team consisting mainly of home grown players started to bring back glory to the Town by appearing in a Lancashire County Cup Final in October 1976. They appeared in a further three finals in consecutive season winning the trophy by defeating Wigan in the 1977 final.
The last of those four finals was staged at Salford's Willows ground on Saturday 8 December 1979, and attracted a crowd of 6,887. Widnes were firm favourites to lift the cup and held the Cumbrians at bay to register an 11–0 victory. Probably as a result of the three previous finals, several top class forwards caught the eye of the wealthy Lancashire clubs who enticed them away from Derwent Park.
Tommy Bishop was coach between 1981 and 1982. The 1980s were the lowest era in the club's history as it saw Town mainly as a yo-yo side going in and out of the first division but mostly wallowing halfway down the second. During this period, the fan base practically disappeared, and as the 1990s arrived it was third division rugby status.
Peter Walsh joined Town as Head Coach in the summer of 1992. Town were beaten finalists in the 1992–93 Divisional Premiership going down to Featherstone Rovers while in the Third Division. Workington won the Second Division Championship and Divisional Premiership trophy double in 1993–94, the Divisional Premiership was won over London Crusaders at Old Trafford, Manchester. That took them into the top flight of rugby league and Town finished ninth in the Stones Bitter Championship. Peter Walsh quit as the coach of Workington Town to return to Australia in July 1995.
1996–present: Summer eraEdit
When the Super League was set up, it was proposed that Workington merge with Barrow, Carlisle and Whitehaven to form a Cumbrian super club to be based at Workington. This was, however, resisted and an unmerged Workington took part in Super League but would record only two wins all season. They finished bottom of the table and were relegated to the Northern Ford Premiership with significant debts.
In 2003, Ged Stokes was in charge of the New Zealand A-team on their tour of England. At the end of the tour, he was offered the vacant coaching job at Town. Workington were at a low ebb and had only seven players in their squad.
A Challenge Cup game against Leeds brought a bumper crowd that allowed the club to clear their debts.
Assistant coaches Craig Barker and Les Ashe took over and led the team to the Elimination Semi-final but they were defeated by Oldham. A few weeks after Town's 2007 season had come to a close, Town appointed Whitehaven coach Dave Rotheram as their new coach. In Rotheram's first season in charge Town finished eighth in National League Two with only six wins from their twenty two games and were eliminated in the first round of the play-offs at Keighley.
Following a poor start to the 2009 season, with Town only gaining two wins up to that point, Dave Rotherham decided to step down. He was replaced in July 2009 by joint coaches Martin Oglanby and Gary Charlton.
1944–1956: Borough ParkEdit
Workington moved into Borough Park in 1944 and shared it with association football club Workington AFC. Owing to tension between the football club's manager Bill Shankly and the Town manager, Gus Risman and director Tom Mitchell, Town took a 150-year lease on the land at Derwent Park and moved out in 1956.
Town built a stadium on the ground they squired after leaving Borough Park in 1956 and won the RFL Championship whilst playing there. The record attendance at Derwent Park was set in 1965 when 17,741 spectators turned up for a third round Challenge Cup match against Wigan. The football pitch at Derwent Park is surrounded by a 364 metres (398 yards) motorcycle speedway track.
The modern Workington side play at a far lower level than their 1950s equivalent. Although they have struggled to match earlier achievements, Town maintain a small but dedicated (and vocal) support. Also attracting some big name, former Super League players.
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 2 March 2021
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|Perry Singleton||Barrow Raiders||1 Year||September 2020|
|Lewis Brown||Unattached||2 Years||December 2020|
|Brad Holroyd||Leigh Centurions||1 Year||December 2020|
|Ethan Bickerdike||Millom ARLFC||2 Years||December 2020|
|Matt Henson||Egremont Rangers||1 Year||December 2020|
|Jordan Thomson||Whitehaven RLFC||2 Years||December 2020|
|Jake Lightowler||Newcastle Thunder||2 Years||December 2020|
|Jake Moore||Whitehaven RLFC||2 Years||December 2020|
|Elliot Hall||Batley Bulldogs||1 Year||November 2020|
|Andrew Dawson||Whitehaven RLFC||1 Year||December 2020|
|Fuifui Moimoi||Rochdale Hornets||1 Year||December 2020|
|Russell Bolton||Askam||1 Year||December 2020|
Players earning international caps while at Workington TownEdit
Other notable former playersEdit
These players have either; played in a Challenge Cup, or Rugby Football League Championship final, received a Testimonial match, are "Hall of Fame" inductees, played during Workington Town's Super League I season, or were international representatives before, or after, their time at Workington Town, or are notable outside of rugby league.
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- Gus Risman 1946–54
- Paul Charlton 1975–?
- Tommy Bishop 1980–81
- Paul Charlton 1982
- Billy Smith 1984–85
- Keith Davies 1986–87
- Phil Kitchin 1989
- Maurice Bamford 1988
- Ray Ashton
- Dean Williams
- Peter Walsh 1992–95
- Kurt Sorensen 1995–96
- Ross O'Reilly 1996–97
- Rob Tew 1997
- Andy Platt 1999
- Gary Murdock
- Martin Wood
- Billy McGinty 2003
- Ged Stokes 2003–07
- Craig Barker and Les Ashe 2007
- Dave Rotheram 2007–09
- Gary Charlton and Martin Oglanby 2009–2013
- Gary Charlton 2014
- Phil Veivers 2014
- Leon Pryce 2018–2019
- Chris Thorman 2019
Super League eraEdit
|Season||League||Play-offs||Challenge Cup||Other competitions||Name||Tries||Name||Points|
|Division||P||W||D||L||F||A||Pts||Pos||Top try scorer||Top point scorer|
|1999||Northern Ford Premiership||28||9||1||18||468||813||19||14th||R4|
|2000||Northern Ford Premiership||28||11||1||16||502||776||23||12th||R4|
|2001||Northern Ford Premiership||28||16||0||12||681||568||32||9th||R4|
|2002||Northern Ford Premiership||27||13||0||14||677||677||26||11th||R5|
|2003||National League Two||18||4||1||13||393||558||9||8th||R3|
|2004||National League Two||18||10||0||8||597||479||20||5th||R4|
|2005||National League Two||18||12||1||5||487||426||25||3rd||Lost in Preliminary Final||R4|
|2006||National League Two||22||10||0||12||558||645||20||8th||R3|
|2007||National League Two||22||12||0||10||655||515||43||5th||R4|
|2008||National League Two||22||6||0||16||512||628||28||8th||R4|
|2010||Championship 1||20||8||1||11||494||498||33||7th||Lost in Elimination Playoffs||R3|
|2012||Championship 1||18||12||0||5||617||330||43||3rd||Lost in Preliminary Final||R3|
|2013||Championship||26||11||0||15||483||681||39||8th||Lost in Elimination Playoffs||R5|
|2015||Championship||23||7||1||15||379||671||15||8th||Lost in Shield Semi Final||R4|
|2018||League 1||26||17||0||9||833||517||34||4th||Lost in Promotion and Playoff Finals||R4|
|2019||League 1||20||10||1||9||592||478||21||5th||Lost in Semi Final||R5||1895 Cup||R2|
|2020||League 1||League abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom||R5|
- "PETER WALSH QUITS AS WORKINGTON TOWN COACH". The Independent. 12 July 1995. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- Morgan, Martin (15 May 2008). "Caned Until I Bleed for Love of Rugby League". Whitehaven News: The Morgan Files. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- "Coach Dave Rotheram leaves Workington Town". Cumbria Life. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
- "Players out on their feet after Workington Town beat Keighley Helen Thompson". Cumbrian News and Star. 18 September 2011. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- "Account Suspended". Rugbyleague.org. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "Workington Town R.L.F.C - Legends Evening 90's". 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "Workington Town R.L.F.C - Legends Evening 80's". 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "TotalRL.com for Rugby League". 14 February 2012. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "Workington Town R.L.F.C - Legends Evening 70's". 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "HALL OF FAME - WEEK 2 - PROLIFIC CENTRE JOHN O'NEILL". Townrlfc.com. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- [dead link]
- "HALL OF FAME WEEK 11 - CLASSY CENTRE IAN WRIGHT!". Townrlfc.com. Retrieved 30 December 2019.