Match Of My Years – Part 2 – When Workington made history

In a new feature, League Express writers detail some of their most vivid memories during their time on the terraces, and not in the press box.

In this installment of Match of My Years, Workington fan Callum Linford recalls Workington’s first victory at Odsal in 52 years, back in 2018.

There are always sporting moments you can recall and remember a great game, but very few leave you with hairs standing on the back of your neck.

A group of diehard fans from West Cumbria made the trip across the M62 corridor to Bradford for a David and Goliath clash, and although in the same league, one fallen giant would be hoping David wouldn’t slay them on home soil.

First, you’ve got to rewind to the early stages of the season and a nail-biting game where the right boot of Jordan Tansey would end the Bulls’ nine-game unbeaten run at the start of the Betfred League 1 season.

The then coach at Workington Town, Leon Pryce, returned to his holy ground of Osdal and was looking to cause an upset of monumental proportions. With a penalty for a high shot on Oliver Wilkes in the fourth minute this galvanised veteran hooker aSean Penkywicz into action, a neat inside pass sent fullback Sam Forrester racing away under the posts leaving Carl Forber with the simplest of conversion.

They couldn’t do it could they?

Bradford began to build pressure on the Workington line and when Elliot Minchella came calling four points answered the door. However, an error from Dane Chisolm would see Workington keep a slender 4-6 lead. Chisolm would atone his previous error going all of ninety-eight meters to touch down putting the Bulls into a two-point lead, Jordan Lilley, taking over kicking, slotted the conversion over. Giving the Bulls a 10-6 lead.

For all the Bulls’ dominance they couldn’t shrug off their opposition and after a monstrous 40/20 from hooker James Newton saw Fui Fui Moi Moi pepper Bulls defenders all over the pitch. A neat passing move from Doran, Forber and Forrester saw centre Elliott Miller crash over out wide leaving Forber a difficult touchline conversion into the Osdal bowl wind. The kicker (who has since become Workington’s all-time record points scorer) had no issues putting Town into a 10-12 lead at half-time.

A deafening silence fell across Osdal for the majority of its 3,320 crowd.

The Town faithful smelt a victory was brewing. This may have been short-lived as within seven second-half minutes a herculean show of strength from Matty Garside catapulted the Bulls into a 14-12 lead. The conversion sailed beneath the crossbar such was the strength of the wind. Workington ultimately began to lag towards the hour mark as ill-discipline gave Bradford two penalty conversions and at 18-12 the Bulls looked to have a stronghold on the game.

The kick-off from the second of the two-penalty conversion was collected by a leaping Tyllar Mellor and this seemed to give Town a second wind. The end of the set saw a kick ricochet off the referee and a scrum to Workington was given much to the fury of the Bulls fans. (It had happened previously at Central Park between Wigan and London). Halfback Jamie Doran split the Bulls’ left-hand side to run over the top of Jordan Lilley and with a conversion the scores were once again level with Town now back in it. You could’ve cut the tension with a knife.

A Sean Penkywicz high shot left the Bulls with the chance to go 20-18 up with all of 10 minutes left as both Stevie Scholey and George Flanagan saw yellow for the scuffle that followed the high shot. Ethan Ryan hadn’t kicked for four months and from forty-eight meters out could he nail it? Once again agonisingly it had the legs but went just wide of the posts.

On comes the star attraction Moi Moi for the last 10 minutes and you began to believe that Town would do the unthinkable. This was helped when Jordan Lilley had what could only be described as a brain explosion when he attempted an offload above his head with Oliver Wilkes collecting the loose ball.

Ben Morris would steady the ship before Moi Moi went on another no-nonsense run 20 meters away from the line. Penkywicz then played the ball to Tyler Dickinson the heart began to pound. Dickinson quickly played the ball and the wily gunslinger Penkywicz sent the 60 odd travelling support from Workington into absolute hysteria as his probing run found the try line for a Town victory that would leave the very foundations of Osdal shook.

The journey back to West Cumbria was one of celebration songs, beer and more songs and that was on the bus as the ‘Touchdown Bar’ and ‘Top House’ was shut to Town fans. The quiet supporters bus turned into the party bus as everyone from the age of 18 to our eldest lifelong fan at 88 was up, singing and dancing all night as the party continued later in the pubs of Workington.