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Friday, 29 May 2015

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Dave Bowden, the man who gave everything for Workington Town, quits

Dave Bowden leaves Workington Town in a healthier position than he found it 10 years ago.


WORKINGTON Town chairman Dave Bowden has stepped down from the hot seat after 10 years in charge at Derwent Park, three weeks before the club kick-off their Championship season at Swinton Lions. He has also stepped down as a director of the club citing family reasons for his decision.

Dave, 58, from Seaton, took over as chairman early in 2003 when the club was on its knees. After battling against the odds to take Town out of administration, his drive and determination helped lead the club to promotion to the Championship last season.

“It’s not a decision I’ve taken hastily,” said Dave. “I’m extremely close to all the members of the board. They are stalwarts of the club and will be lifelong friends. They’re a great bunch and understand my reasons for stepping down. The club deserves a lot more support than it gets and I’m proud to have worked with the board and all the staff members at Workington Town for the last 10 years,” he added.

“I need to spend more time with my wife Pauline and daughters Jenny and Sarah – due to my work with the club, they have been neglected for the last 10 years, and that’s the key reason behind my decision.
“The board has asked me to continue with a few projects, including the preparation for staging two World Cup games, so I am still going to be involved.

“I’ve been a fan of Workington Town since my dad took me to watch a game when I was seven or eight – that’s not going to change but there comes a time when your head has to rule your heart. But once a Town fan, always a Town fan,” added Dave who is the former managing director of Cumbrian Newspapers and now managing director of Cumbria Recycling, a social enterprise organisation based in Workington.

“It’s time new blood came into the club and I’ll be 100 per cent behind anyone coming in. It’s time for fresh faces.”
In 2003, Town had few registered players and no money in the bank but Dave took on the challenge and saw his side win just a few games that season. But his attitude to the financial side of the club is what has made Workington Town what it is today.

While covering Town, I’ll never forget the day Dave told me that he “would never spend money that the club didn’t have” and that “it was going to be a long haul but promotion was a reality - eventually”.

Town gained that promotion last season and, arguably, could have clinched the title had it not been for a late run of bad injuries that saw the side left short on numbers.

But, in 10 years, what were his high points?

“First of all, the friendship and camaraderie on and off the pitch,” said Dave. “Rugby league is a wonderful sport and a lot of people in Workington have been involved, in one way or another, for far longer than me at some point in creating the club’s recent success.

“During all my time at the club June Kennedy has been an absolute rock and had provided magnificent support to me.

“I am very proud of how the club in particular has enhanced its role in the community. The work done by Marnie Jackson and her team in promoting such events as the Allerdale Olympics, the Lillie-Mai fundraising and all the community programs the club has delivered over many years received well-deserved recognition at the end of last season.

“And I’ll never forget the way the rugby league community came together to support Gary Purdham’s family after the horrendous shooting in west Cumbria. It was a demonstration of what could be achieved by the sport coming together, but that’s a story for another day,” he added.

“The fans have been incredible throughout. I am sad that I am not going to be their chairman any more but that is my decision. I am sure they will still work as hard for the club as they always have done.

“I’m also delighted that we’ve got local coaches in Gary Charlton, Martin Oglanby and Craig Barker, and we now have some very good local players on our books. Another big plus is that we have attracted some top-class players from outside the area who understand what we are trying to do.

“I think we have the best squad we’ve had for years and the challenge this year is to stay in the Championship and try and avoid injuries which cost us dearly last season,” he added.

“My one regret is that we never won any silverware. We won a few games in the first season but I knew that was all we were going to win under the conditions at the club. But we managed to take the club out of administration and put it back into the hands of the directors.

“We’ve taken a few risks along the way but we’ve never spent money we didn’t have. It’s been hard to say no to supporters sometimes and they have been very patient to help get the club where it is today.

“I would like to be remembered as a fan who did his best to try and take the club forward.”

Town vice-chairman Mark Fryer said: "There's no doubt that under his stewardship, Dave has calmly and methodically got on with the job of getting our club on track both on and off the field.

“Perhaps, more importantly for us, we have all become great friends during some tough times.

“I urge anyone who feels they have something to offer the club and would like to join the board to contact any of the current directors. It is important we become an established club in the Championship. And to do this we will need help on and off the field.

“The message from the current board to the fans though is ‘it’s business as usual’.”

And there was also praise from Barry Richardson, chief executive of Town’s fierce rivals Whitehaven. He said: “I remember before Dave was Town chairman, and when he was the managing director at Cumbrian Newspapers, how fair he was with sponsorship for both Town and Haven.

“He has done an exceptional job with Town through some very hard times, times that would have seen others pack in.

“And the last couple of years have seen a dramatic improvement on the field for Workington and a lot of that is down to Dave’s drive and commitment,” he added.

“I’m very pleased he’s staying involved as Dave is so passionate about Cumbrian rugby league.

“It’s been a pleasure working with him, he has been outstanding for Town.

“I would just like to wish, on behalf of Whitehaven RLFC, Dave and his family all the very best in the future.”

Red House Supporters Club treasurer Paul Heskett said that the news had come ‘like a bolt out of the blue’, and added: “Considering the situation of the club when Dave took over, he’s done a great job and left the club in a very good financial position.

“I’ve known Dave since I worked for him as a paperboy 35 years ago and he will be very sadly missed on the club’s board.”
And the final word went to Travellers Rest Supporters Club chairman Allan Lamb, who said: "I wasn't aware of anything until I saw it on the news on Monday night.

"I have to admit I'm disappointed as Dave has been the best chairman the club has had for many years.

"I'm saddened at Dave's decision after 10 years of very hard work at Workington Town, but I understand he wants to spend more time with his family and I fully support that."


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