Football became a sport worthy of reporting in Cumberland at the relatively late time of the early 1880’s. The first mention of a Workington team did not appear until 1884, the team in question being referred to as Workington Dronfield, arguably the forerunners of Workington AFC. In those early days Workington entertained the likes of Barrow-in-Furness, Newcastleton, Distington, Wigton Athletic and the illustrious Oswaldthwistle Rovers at their Workington Cricket Field home ground. The club was temporarily banned from this venue in 1909 after riled local supporters took out their anger after a 3-0 defeat by Manchester United Reserves on the referee. The poor man managed to secretly obtain a lift to the railway station on a milk float.
Due to their poor financial status Workington Football Club disbanded in 1911 and went into voluntary liquidation. Despite the emergence of Workington Central FC plus the United and Athletics teams from Workington, the slumber of Workington FC was not awakened until 1921. Lonsdale Park, once attracting a record attendance of 16,000, became their new home before a final move to Borough Park in 1937. In 1929 Lonsdale Park was the scene of one of the most bizarre matches ever to have been played.
After taking a somewhat commanding lead to the tune of 10-0 against Whitehaven Athletic, play was abandoned. Atrocious weather decimated the visiting team as the players progressively left the field suffering from the freezing conditions. With just one player left after 70 minutes play the referee had little alternative but to stop the game. Fittingly for a club from a steel town Workington were made of sterner stuff as none of their team had succumbed to the conditions.
Workington have always played in red, resulting in their descriptive, but perhaps unimaginative nickname “The Reds”. The choice of red was inspired by the presence of the steelworks company of Charles Cammell from Sheffield who set up business in town and his workers played a pivotal role in establishing the football club. During their League years the red shirts were trimmed with white, whilst the shorts were also white. All-red was worn for a short spell in the late Sixties. Workington reintroduced the white shorts again in 1968.
The club’s badge is in fact derived from the town’s arms. Whereas in the original shield a black field, a wheatsheaf and blue billets allude to the area’s principal industries of coal, agriculture and steel, Workington FC adopted the famous Cumberland huntsman John Peel, blowing his horn. The unicorn in the crest is that of the Curwen family, to which has been added an anchor denoting Workington’s maritime associations. The supporting Vulcan figure is the god of metal workers, whilst the statue of Themis, holding a cornucopia and a pair of scales is a classical personification of civic rule.