Awayday preview : Carlisle United, Saturday 24 March
How to get there
Carlisle is bloody miles away. It’s actually further than the moon. And has less atmosphere. But if you insist on going, take the quite beautiful Settle to Carlisle railway (not operated by Virgin Trains) and take in Stainforth Gorge and Ribblehead Viaduct, not the sort of thing you get to see on the Charing Cross line. And get to the town early – it’s a pretty nice place once you’ve made the effort. And as Gills have a good record there, even the football will make the effort seem worthwhile.
Brunton Park’s a proper football ground that that idiot Knighton started to renovate during his alien-spotting period in charge. The result is three old-fashioned sides remaining, and a huge new stand that wasn’t quite built in the right place. The away fans are plonked at one end and get to overlook the old away terrace, which is now closed. Don’t be spooked if the home supporters stare at you, they’re not used to seeing southerners – they’ll be as afraid of you as you are of them so don’t panic. During their spell in the Conference, the ground flooded completely and home games had to be played at Workington; this partly explains the capsized paddle steamer in the car park.
The Cumbrians. Thought to originate from their location in Cumbria.
Hadrian’s Wall – What have the Romans ever done for us? Other than build a wall to keep the barbarian Scots out. It didn’t work, they’re everywhere.
Carlisle Cathedral – celebrate the Glory of God, enjoy the Flemish altarpiece, admire the medieval paintings of St Cuthbert and pray for an injury to Carlisle’s on-loan striker Joe Garner
Where to Drink
Either the Cumberland Inn by the station, with splendid beer and a stubborn reminder of old pubs in a part of the city which has been over-run by modern chains. Or there’s the Rugby Club next to the ground, where a CAMRA card or copy of the Good Beer Guide gets you day membership for free. Newly renovated after the soggy problems of 2005.
All hopelessly addicted to Kendal Mint cake, to the extent that all other mint confectionery is banned within the ground. Some are still a bit wonky eyed following excessive consumption after Jimmy Glass’s late salvation winner against Plymouth in 1999 which staved off relegation for a couple more years. If a Carlisle fan burps, it’s guaranteed to be minty fresh. Famous fans do not include Belinda Carlisle or Robert Carlyle, though the former’s 1988 No 1 hit “Heaven on Earth” was allegedly inspired by a visit to nearby Egremont.
Carlisle Hate Figures
Can’t really think of anyone. There was Keith Walwyn – didn’t hate him but hated playing against him as he had more limbs than an octopus and had a habit of deflecting crosses into Gillingham’s net with elbows and ears. Though that was more in his York days.
Peter Beardsley. Released by the Gills under Gerry Summers, within two years he was racing through our defence to slot home an equaliser under the Priestfield floodlights to snatch a 1-1 draw in 79/80. He went on to even better things.
- Pipping them to the 1963/4 Division 4 title on goal average, despite their scoring about a hundred goals more than us. Actually, I don’t remember that, but memories linger in these parts and mention of it may be the catalyst for a wedge of Kendal Mint Cake up the rectum
- Going there as Division 3 leaders before Christmas 1981 and suffering a woeful defeat, though worse happened on the M6 when one of the supporters’ coaches suffered a horrendous crash
- Sinking to our lowest ebb at half-time in 1987, when we trailed 2-0 to the division’s bottom side, our promotion dreams in tatters. In the second half the sun came out, Pritchard, Cascarino and Shearer rattled in four without reply and we staggered to the play-offs
- Mike Trusson being a dick and head-butting some home loon in our first year in the basement. We got stuffed 3-0
- Kicking off at mid-day in 1991 to avoid a clash with the rugby World Cup final. A decision which swelled the attendance to 1600, all of whom cherished the 0-0 draw they saw forever
- An unaccountable Tuesday night 4-0 romp in the mud in 1990. I heard the result from a disgruntled Frank Sidebottom (aka Mark Radcliffe) on Radio 1, who didn’t think the result was a particularly appropriate advert for the north of England
- Standing in flatulent terror as keeper Mervyn Day came up for a last minute corner in 1993. Gills were on the brink of their first away victory in 18 months, Paul Baker had been sent off in the first half, Mike Flanagan had been sent to the stands, Richard Green had missed a penalty, and Carlisle had already notched one late equaliser to ignite a large crowd who had turned up to gaze on the debut of big money signing David Reeves – yet we triumphed through two identical Nicky Forster goals. One of my happiest days ever….
- Paul Scally handing out free tickets for the newly built Gordon Road Stand to reward the loyalty of the travelling few. How we gazed longingly into his bespectacled eyes. What a nice man. We played like idiots and lost 2-1
Our first shut-out for a year away from home – a cantankerous goal-less draw,
The Morty Vicker