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The two men ahead of the 'Ginger Messi' PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Monday, 26 October 2020

billy charlton.pngTHE ‘Ginger Messi’ struck his 127th goal for Workington Reds at Ossett on Saturday.

It put him level with Gareth Arnison as Reds’ leading goal-scorer in the modern era (last 80 years).

Despite living with a serious health issue affecting his digestive system, Arnison established himself as the record scorer with 127 goals in 346 appearances for the Reds, 81 of them as a substitute.

Both have been Reds’ penalty-takers to help along their impressive tallies.

Now Scott Allison, who joined  the club from Penrith in the summer of 2013, has two men in front of him for the title of Workington Reds’ greatest goal-scorer.

Next on the list for Scotty to aim at is Jock Thom (below right), a remarkable goal-scorer for the Reds as he was only with the club for three whole seasons.

In that time he rattled in 155 League and Cup goals for the club with a season’s best of 61 in the 1929/29 season. Those comprised of 51 in the North Eastern League and ten in Cup competitions.

He almost got there the following season with 59 – 42 in the League and 17 in the various Cup competitions

Thom had actually played for Reds in the 1923/24 season when he scored 35 goals – 30 in the League and five in the Cup. Those goals earned him a move to Leeds United, who signed him for £430.

A Scot, born in Hurlford, Ayrshire Thom had began his football career as a 17-year-old with Hurlford Thistle in 1916 and, after unsuccessful trials with Birmingham City, signed for Nottingham Forest in August 1922.

He failed to get into the first team at Forest and was released in the summer of 1923, joining Workington, for just the one season.

Leeds United signed him in May 1924 with his Football League debut coming in a 1-0 defeat at Notts County the same September. However he was given little chance to show what he could do at Elland Road scoring three goals in just seven appearances in his debut season but remaining in the reserves until he was transferred to Third Division (South) Bristol Rovers for £175 in June 1927, where he scored four times in six appearances during 1927-28.

In August 1928 he returned to Workington, and it must have been the Cumberland air because he was able to add 120 goals to those he had scored in his first spell.

But after two years he moved south to join still non-league Aldershot Town in June 1930 and scored nearly one hundred goals for them, including six goals in 19 games after they had replaced Thames Association in the Third Division (South) in the 1932-33 season.

During the 1930-31 season, when they were still non-League, he had scored 68 goals for them which even surpassed his best for Workington.jock thom.png

He then joined non-league Guildford City in the 1933 close season. Having retired from playing he later returned to Aldershot as reserve team trainer and was also a gateman at the Recreation Ground. He died in Aldershot in 1966, aged 67.

The Daddy of them all, though, is Billy Charlton (pictured top left), even more prolific than Thom.

An inside-left, born a year after Thom in 1900, he was 30-years-old when he joined the Reds and immediately took on the Scot’s goal-scoring mantle.

Sunderland-born Charlton spent the first three years of his career at South Shields, notching 12 goals in 50 games.

Someone must have seen something in him because he earned a move to West Ham. But after only eight games, and no goals, he was transferred to Newport County.

In two seasons he played 89 times, with 19 goals, hardly showing the prolific touch that was to follow at Tranmere and Workington.

After a brief stay at Cardiff, where he did not play a single senior game he joined Tranmere Rovers of Third Division North in 1925.

Suddenly the goals began to flow and in 137 games scored 74 times.

But that was small-beer when it came to his Workington haul.

In five seasons with the Reds he collected 158 League goals and a further 34 in the Cups.

Starting in 1930-31 he made a promising start with 35 League goals and four in Cups.

The following year established a new Workington scoring record of 63 goals – 57 in the League and six in the Cup.

Season 1932-33 saw another 53 efforts hit the back of the net – 39 in the League and 14 in Cups.

Age and knocks began to take their toll, however, for in 1933-34 he was down to 17 League and 6 Cup goals.

His final season, 1934-35 produced ten more League goals and four in Cups.

He moved back to his native north east and died in Sunderland in 1980 at the age of 80.

So there you are Scotty – over to you. The first target is 155 and then on to 192. Three good seasons and you’re there!

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