A FUNDRAISING boost of £15,000 has put Workington Reds in a much stronger position to make it through their centenary season.
Football fans across the world donated to the club’s Save The Reds Crowdfunder appeal, which closed this week.
Reds fans had already raised enough money to get the new season up and running, and a streamed recreation of Workington’s 1958 match against the Busby Babes also raised thousands towards the survival fund.
But the COVID-19 pandemic had forced many sponsors to withdraw support, and with no sign of fans returning to the Borough Park turnstiles, an extra fundraising push was needed.
Fans of Premier League champions Liverpool were asked to support the Reds of Workington as the two clubs have a common bond through being formerly managed by the legendary Bill Shankly.
Not only did Liverpool fans from around the world respond with donations, supporters of struggling clubs like Bury and Wigan also got behind the campaign.
Reds director Dave Bowden was delighted that the appeal raised £15,000, but sounded a note of caution.
He said: “We enter our centenary season with far more confidence and optimism than we would have had.
“We still anticipate tough economic times ahead, and like many businesses we expect some downturns, which as a club we will need to address.
“But we are up for these further challenges. It’s what Bill Shankly would have expected from us.”
Not only did Liverpool fans get behind the appeal – the Premier League club itself urged support on its website.
Liverpool legends John Aldridge, Alan Kennedy and Jimmy Case recorded videos of support for the appeal.
And news was shared by national media and across the world by Liverpool FC supporter groups.
Workington AFC has certainly been put on the map. Good wishes and donations came from as far afield as Australia, British Colombia, Minneapolis, Norway and South Korea.
Many Liverpool fans who supported the appeal did so to protect the legacy of Bill Shankly – including Paul Moran, brother of the late Liverpool coach Ronnie Moran, who worked alongside “Shanks” and visited Borough Park last month to lend his own support.
Workington were struggling when Shankly took over in January 1954. He had to do much of the administration work himself at the club, answering the phone and letters, and going to the bank each week to collect the payroll.
On the pitch, the 1953/54 season saw Shankly lift Workington to 20th position, and the team played attractive football. The next season saw them finish a respectable eighth in Third Division North, with average attendances rising to 9,000.
Shankly had changed Workington’s fortunes and, as an ambitious manager, was ready to step up.
He took charge of Liverpool in 1959, when they were in the Second Division, and built the team into a major force in England and Europe.
Shankly returned to Borough Park in 1980, just a year before his death, to open The Shankly Lounge – an honour he ranked above all his trophy wins.
While Liverpool’s season resumed this year and allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to lift the title, Workington’s campaign was annulled, with Danny Grainger’s men 10 points clear at the top.
The Crowdfunder appeal offered rewards in return for donations, with some fans taking up the offer of meeting Grainger and players on an Access All Areas Matchday Tour, once supporters are allowed back in the stadium.
Reds chairman Les Byers said: “On behalf of Shankly’s Reds of West Cumbria, Workington AFC wish to express our grateful thanks to everyone from across the globe, who have so generously supported our appeal.
“We now know for sure that we will never walk alone.”