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Carlisle United F.C

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Carlisle United F.C

Carlisle United
Carlisle United's emblem
Full name Carlisle United Football Club
Nickname(s) Cumbrians, Blues
Founded 1904
Ground Brunton Park
Ground Capacity 18,202
Chairman Andrew Jenkins
Manager Graham Kavanagh
League League One
2012–13 League One, 17th
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Carlisle United F.C. (/kɑrˈll/ or /ˈkɑrll/) is an English football club based in Carlisle, Cumbria, where they play at Brunton Park. This team have won numerous trophies as they are the best in the world. Formed in 1904, the club currently compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

They have won three league titles and two cup competitions in their long history. Carlisle is the smallest location, by population, to have had a resident top flight English football club since 1906.[1] The club has reached the final of the Football League Trophy 6 times, more than any other team, winning it on two occasions in 1997 and 2011.

The club's traditional kit is blue with white and red detail. The badge takes elements from the city's coat of arms including two wyverns which are the regent of Cumbria.


Main article: History of Carlisle United F.C.

(1904–1928) Early years

The club was formed on 17 May 1904 at Shaddongate United's annual general meeting[2] where the club's members voted to change the team's name to Carlisle United. The newly formed club initially played at Milhome Bank and later at Devonshire Park, finally settling at their current home Brunton Park in 1909.

In 1905, Carlisle United joined the Lancashire Combination but were only admitted after agreeing to pay all visiting teams’ travel expenses for two years, due to Carlisle not being located in Lancashire. After the league reorganised four years later the board at United decided it did not suit the club's best interests to be there any longer and the club entered the North Eastern League in place of their reserve team who had previously played in the league and been a founding member. When the Carlisle United first team left to join the Football League the reserve team resumed its place in the competition.[3] Carlisle United were crowned champions of the North Eastern League in 1922.

The 1927–28 season was Carlisle's last in the North Eastern League. An excellent home record helped them to second in the table finishing a full 10 points behind Champions Sunderland Reserves. The close season meant the usual round of applications to join (and be re-elected to) the Football League. Carlisle went up against Chester City, Durham City (applying for re-election), Nelson and York City. On 4 June 1928 a delegation of representatives from Carlisle United took their seats at the Football League meeting in London to hear the results of the vote. They were cast as follows: Nelson – 37, Carlisle – 33, Durham – 11, York – 7, Chester – 2. The result meant Carlisle would replace Durham City as members of the Football league.

(1928–1964) The Football League

Carlisle United won their first game in the Football League Third Division North with the side of Prout, Coulthard, Cook, Harrison, Ross, Pigg, Agar, Hutchison, McConnell, Ward and Watson beating Accrington Stanley 3–2.[4] Their next game was played against Hartlepool United and still stands to this day as their record victory at 8 goals to nil.

When the Second World War began in 1939, Carlisle United withdrew from national and regional competitions and only played local football. When the war was over the club returned to the Football League and appointed Ivor Broadis as player-manager, making him the youngest league club manager in history. He then had the distinction of becoming the first manager to transfer himself when he moved to Sunderland, he continued to live and train in Carlisle.[5] Broadis returned to Carlisle United in 1955 an ex-England international.

In 1949, the club became the first to appoint Bill Shankly as manager. Shankly, a former player at Carlisle, later went on to manage local rivals Workington (helping them finish above Carlisle for the first time) before being appointed as manager of Liverpool in 1959; over the next 15 years he would guide the club to numerous trophy successes.[6] It is at Carlisle where he met local player Geoff Twentyman, who he would later sign as head scout at Liverpool, and lifelong friend Ivor Broadis.[5] Broadis, who was playing for Sunderland but living and training with Carlisle, once arrived late for training and Shankly asserted that he would play by United's training rules even if he didn't play there. According to Shankly, he said to Broadis: "What do you think you're doing? Who do you think you are? If you do the training we do you can train with us and we'll play five-a-side and you'll run your guts out as an example to everybody else".[5]

Carlisle were members of the Third Division North until 1958 when it combined with the Third Division South to become the Fourth Division. They remained there until 1962 when they won their first promotion, they were relegated the following season but immediately bounced back to begin the most prosperous period in the club's history.

(1964–1985) The Golden Era

Upon gaining promotion to the Third Division in 1964 United immediately won the Third Division Championship the following year. In the period which followed Carlisle enjoyed their greatest success outside of cup competitions. Over twelve years the club cemented themselves as a solid Second Division (Then 2nd Tier in English football) side. Within that period Carlisle finished 7 out of 11 seasons in the top half of the table including 3rd in 66/67, 4th in 70/71 and a 3rd in 73/74 which saw them promoted to the top tier of English football. The 71/72 season also saw Carlisle play their only European competition in the club's history, in June 1972 they beat A.S. Roma 3–2 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Playing in the First Division for the 1974–75 season. Carlisle won their first three fixtures to go top of the English football pyramid, partly due to the likes of Chris Balderstone, scoring the penalty which put them at the top, and Bobby Parker who both went on to make at least 375 league appearances for Carlisle. The success was short lived however, they finished the season in bottom place and were relegated. Highlight victories include doing a double over Everton, and home victories over eventual champions Derby County, and former title holders Ipswich Town, Arsenal, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Carlisle still remains the smallest location in England, by local population, to have had a resident top flight football team since 1906.[1] Bill Shankly, an FA Cup and League Championship winning manager by that time, branded Carlisle's climb to the top as “the greatest feat in the history of the game.”[7]

Another relegation followed in 76/77 before returning to the Second Division in 1982 under Bob Stokoe. With a team including Malcolm Poskett and Tommy Craig they mounted a promotion challenge in the 83/84 season but finished 7th after a late slump.

(1986–2005) The Doldrums

Carlisle ended their most prosperous period as rapidly as it had started. Back to back relegations in 86 and 87 saw them enter the Fourth division for the first time in 21 years. Their first season in there saw them finish second from bottom but 19 points ahead of relegated Newport County. In contrast, the same year they reached the FA Cup third round but were defeated by eventual champions Liverpool.

The lull in league performance continued. A promotion push in 1990 was thwarted by a last match defeat to Maidstone United and near 20th placed finish in 91 saw manager Clive Middlemass replaced by Aidan McCaffrey. The change in management didn't do much to reverse fortune however and the following season Carlisle finished bottom of the Football League, only avoiding relegation due Aldershot being expelled due to bankruptcy.

Some good then came of a new owner in the form of Michael Knighton whose financial input helped the club steer clear of relegation in 92/93 gain two promotions in 95, 97 to the second division (now 3rd tier) and gain success in the Football League Trophy. Unfortunately the promotions were immediately followed by relegations in 96 and 98 respectively.

In the 1998–99 season Carlisle found themselves in their second successive relegation battle and needing to gain three points from the final game of the season at home to Plymouth Argyle. At 90 minutes the crowd at Scarborough (Carlisle's relegation rival) were already celebrating before the fourth official stated four minutes of extra time would be played at Brunton Park. In the last kick of the game goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, who had signed in an emergency loan deal from Swindon Town after the transfer deadline, scored from a corner kick which he came up to in a last gasp effort to win the match.[8]

In the following years Carlisle continued to narrowly avoid relegation one season after the other. From the 97/98 season through to 03/04 the club only once finished above 22nd in the English fourth tier. The bullet dodging did eventually cease however when in 2004 they lost Football league status for the first time since 1928.

(2005–present) Resurgence

Carlisle were promoted out of the non-league conference at the first time of asking in 2005, winning the play-off final at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke. Carlisle's excellent form under manager Paul Simpson continued into the following season as they returned to the Football League with a bang, clinching the League Two title. Simpson then departed for Preston North End, and was succeeded by Neil McDonald. The following few seasons saw Carlisle achieve their highest league finishes for 22 years and the highest average crowds for 30 years. This coincided with several seasons at the top half of League One including a playoff finish in 2008.

The 2008–09 season saw Carlisle start promisingly but it was soon followed by one of the worst runs of form in the club's history. Because of this manager John Ward was sacked and replaced by caretaker manager Gregg Abbot, signing him permanently after he uplifted the clubs form in the following games.[9] On 9 January 2009, Graham Kavanagh was released by Sunderland and returned to Carlisle on a permanent basis as a player-coach.[10] Carlisle eventually avoided relegation that season.

Carlisle completed two full seasons with Abbot at the helm, and achieved comfortable mid table finishes in both. More noteworthy is the two runs in the Football League Trophy which took place in those seasons. The team were beaten in the final in 2010 but returned the following year, with new signings including François Zoko and James Berrett, to win the trophy in 2011.

In April 2013, Kavanagh continued his post as Assistant Manager at the end of the 2012–13 season, after signing a new one year deal. In September 2013 Abbott was sacked and Kavanagh was installed as caretaker manager,[11] appointed on a permanent basis on 30 September 2013, signing a two year contract.[12]

Football League Trophy

Since its inception Carlisle have competed in almost every season of the Football League Trophy, including in 2004–05 when they did not hold Football League status. In total they have reached the final six times, more than any other team. The club first won the competition in 1997, beating Colchester United. The game, which took place at Wembley Stadium, was drawn 0–0 in 90 minutes and continued to a penalty shoot-out. Thanks to Tony Caig's heroics in goal Carlisle won the shoot-out 4–3. The second win came in 2011, a year after suffering a 4–1 defeat to Southampton in the previous final. This time Carlisle were able to defeat Brentford by a single goal.[13] The goal was scored by Peter Murphy, Carlisle's longest serving player at the time, whose foul gave away a penalty in the previous final defeat a year ago and whose wife had given birth two days earlier.[14]

Colours and Badge

1903–1904 1904–1905 1933–1934 1973–1976 2009–2011
Carlisle United's current emblem is similar to the cities coat of arms, registered in 1924.[15]
Shaddongate F.C. Admiral Le Coq Sportif

Upon the decision to change the name of Shaddongate F.C. to Carlisle United in 1904 the club also changed their shirt colours from gold and navy stripes to blue. In 1907 white shorts were introduced and since then various combinations of blue and white have been used by the club.[16] In 1973 the first shirt to feature a sportswear sponsor was worn by United. Made by Admiral, the shirt was based on an earlier Birmingham City shirt and was the first to feature red detailing. Since then red detailing became a common feature on Carlisle shirts.[16]

The first evidence of Carlisle wearing a crest dates to the 1950/51 season, first adorning it in a FA Cup tie against Arsenal. The design itself was based on the city's own coat of arms which was registered at the College of Arms in 1924.[15][16] The crest itself may have been derived from Sir William de Carlyell of Cumberland, in the reign of Edward II, who bore a red cross. The supporting red wyverns to either side of the shield are a symbol of the British Kingdom of Cumbria. The motto on the underlying scroll reads: ‘Be just and fear not’, which is a quote from Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII'.[15]

Carlisle were often referred to as 'The Foxes' due to the local connection with huntsman John Peel. In 1970 the club badge changed to reflect this and featured a golden fox jumping over the abbreviation C.U.F.C. The fox further became part of the club's image with a mounted stuffed fox named Olga (an anagram of "goal") which is traditionally carried onto the pitch by the mascot before the match. Later versions of this badge featured a fox's head with a castle (representing Carlisle Castle) and a fox jumping through a ring of stars, somewhat resembling the European Union emblem.[15]

Since 1995 the club has reverted to using the city's coat of arms. However the club still sell merchandise with branding similar to their former fox badge and the club mascot (who is now Olga the Fox also) still carries the stuffed fox onto the pitch.


Stobart Group, which is a locally based and founded business, have been the club's main shirt sponsor since 1995. Before 2007 the shirt displayed the 'Eddie Stobart' name associated with the haulage arm of the business (with the exception of the 1997–2000 shirt), in 2007 this changed to just 'Stobart' in order to reflect the wider company.

The Stobart Group have been strong supporters of the club in general also. In 2010, to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary, the group bought 4,000 tickets for the League One game against Rochdale and gave them away to the general public. On 3 April 2011 Carlisle United wore black armbands in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final in respect of Edward Stobart (son of Eddie), who died three days earlier.[17]


Main article: Brunton Park

As Shaddongate United the club played at two grounds, Millholme Bank, to the south of the city, and Devonshire Park, where Trinity School now stands. In 1909, five years after becoming Carlisle United, the club moved to Brunton Park and have been residents ever since.[15]

The stadium has a capacity of 16,800 and comprises both seated and terraced areas. The four stands are known as Main (West) Stand & Paddock, the East Stand, the "Waterworks" Petteril Stand and the Warwick Road End which usually hosts the most vocal supporters on match days. In the past the stadium has been the victim of severe flooding and a fire which burned down the wooden grandstand which stood until 1953.

In 2011 a plan was introduced to move to a 12,000 capacity all-seater stadium to be built in the Kingmoor Park area of the city which was to be locally known as project Blue Yonder. Though considerably smaller than Brunton Park, the new ground could be upgraded to a larger capacity if demand was met. An extension of this 12,000 capacity is thought to rely on the club achieving promotion to the Npower championship. The proposals have received mixed responses from Carlisle fans.


Carlisle United operates through the limited company Carlisle United Association Football Club (1921) Ltd[18] which is currently owned by Andrew Jenkins, Steven Pattison and John Nixon, Jenkins the owner of local business Pioneer Foods while Pattison owns local Hardware company Carlisle Glass – Longhorn. Jenkins has been involved with Carlisle United for over forty years and has served in various roles within the backroom during previous ownership. Pattison a lifelong fan still has his season ticket with the fans and sits with them as often as his Club commitments allow. John Nixon is former MD of Pirelli Tyres.[19] Jenkins became the majority shareholder ahead of John Nixon and Steven Pattison, through the transfer of shares from former owner David Allen. Both Pattison and Nixon declined to take any shares from David Allen [20] Allen the owner of a local accountancy agency left the board acrimoniously in 2009 when he made public a feud with fellow owners on the board stating "Unfortunately, a lot of people perceive elements within Brunton Park’s hierarchy as an old boys’ club that is not receptive of change. I am unhappy being associated with that as it is not my style either personally or professionally." Since Allen left the club has gone from strength to strength having two Wembley finals under their belt including winning the JPT in April 2011 also posting healthy profits. Carlisle United have also just released plans to move to a modern all seater stadium.[21]

In 1992 property developer Michael Knighton bought the club which was then playing in Division Four, the lowest tier of the Football League. Then began a ten year ownership in which much of the talk around the club concerned Knighton himself. At one point he was even featured in the local paper claiming to have seen a UFO, local paper the News and Star ran the story with the headline: 'Knighton: Aliens Spoke To Me'.[22]

In 1997 Knighton dismissed popular manager Mervyn Day, who had won promotion to the Second Division and the Football League Trophy earlier that year. Knighton placed himself in charge of the club's management with the uncredited help of Dave Wilkes and John Halpin. The club was relegated to the English fourth tier that season and only narrowly avoided losing Football League status thanks to a last minute goal by goalkeeper Jimmy Glass in 1999.[8] Knighton became increasingly unpopular with the fans in the following years and the supporters' 'United Trust' was formed to push for better ownership, this came in the form of John Courtenay in 2002.

Supporters and rivalries

The main area of Carlisle support can be found within and around Carlisle itself and, due to being the only professional football club for a long distance, it attracts fans from across the county of Cumbria, South West Scotland and parts of West Northumberland. The club's supporters are known as the Blue Army. The most vocal supporters on match days reside in Brunton Park's Warwick Road End, known affectionately to the fans as 'The Warwick.' In addition to generic English football chants Carlisle's supporters sing Proud to be a Cumbrian, Super Carlisle from the North and an adapted version of Peggy March's I Will Follow Him.

Carlisle's traditional local rivals are Workington, however the west Cumbrian club have not featured in the Football League since 1977 and consequently competitive matches between the two teams are extremely rare. Prior to 2008 the club's nearest professional football club was Gretna F.C., who at one time played in European football thanks to the financial input of Brooks Mileson (A United supporter also, who once tried to buy United).[23] The club were residents of the Scottish Football League however and therefore the chance of meeting in competitive competition remained highly unlikely. The club was eventually liquidated in 2008.[24]

In 2004 market research company FFC surveyed fans of every club across the country to find who they consider their main rivals to be. Carlisle United fans were shown to consider Middlesbrough as their main rivals, followed by Hartlepool United.[25]


Current squad

As of 04 November 2013

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK Mark Gillespie
2 England DF Conor Townsend (on loan from Hull City)
3 England MF Matty Robson
4 England DF Chris Chantler
5 England DF Danny Livesey
6 Ghana MF Prince Buaben
7 England MF David Amoo
8 England MF Liam Noble
9 Scotland FW Lee Miller
11 England FW Danny Cadamarteri
12 England MF Paul Thirlwell
14 England MF Josh Gillies
15 England DF Mike Edwards
No. Position Player
16 England DF Brad Potts
17 Scotland FW Mark Beck
19 England MF David Symington
20 Scotland GK Greg Fleming
21 Republic of Ireland MF James Berrett
23 England DF Sean O'Hanlon
26 England MF Jack Lynch
27 England DF Patrick Brough
28 Germany DF Max Ehmer (on loan from QPR)
29 England FW Lewis Guy
31 Republic of Ireland MF Leon McSweeney
39 France DF Pascal Chimbonda

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
18 England MF Josh Todd (on loan at Annan Athletic)
24 England FW Alex Salmon (on loan at Alloa Athletic)
25 England DF Brandon Gwinnutt (on loan at Penrith)

Notable players

For details on former players, see Category:Carlisle United F.C. players


Current backroom staff

As of 30 September 2013.[26]
Name Nationality Role
Graham Kavanagh  Ireland Manager
Davie Irons  Scotland Assistant Manager

Head of Youth Development

Tony Caig  England Goalkeeping Coach

First Team Coach

Dave Wilkes  England Centre of Excellence Manager
Neil Dalton  England Physiotherapist
Kate Gascoigne  England Youth Team Physiotherapist

Notable managers

The following managers have all achieved honours with Carlisle United.

  • (n/a) = Information not available
Name Nationality Term Honours
Greg Abbott  England 08/2007 – 10/2007 (Caretaker)
11/2008 – 12/2008 (Caretaker)
12/2008 – 09/2013
Football League Trophy Winners: 2010/2011
Runners-up: 2009/2010
Paul Simpson  England 08/2003 – 06/2006 League Two championship Winners: 2005/2006

Football League Trophy Runners-up: 2005/2006
Football Conference promotion play-off Winners: 2004/2005

Roddy Collins  Ireland 08/2001 – 02/2002
07/2002 – 08/2003
Football League Trophy Runners-up: 2002/2003
Mervyn Day  England 1996–1997 Football League Second Division Third Runners-up: 1996/1997

Football League Trophy Winners: 1996/1997

Mick Wadsworth  England 1993–1996 Football League Second Division Winners: 1994/1995

Football League Trophy Runners-up: 1995/1996

Bob Stokoe  England 1968 – 1970
1980 – 1985
1985 – 1986
Football League Third Division Runners-up: 1981/1982
Alan Ashman  England 1963 – 1967
1972 – 1975
Football League Second Division Third Runners-up: 1973/1974

Football League Third Division Winners: 1964/1965
Football League Fourth Division Runners-up: 1963/1964


To date Carlisle United have played 82 seasons in the Football League, their relegation in 2004 and reinstatement the next year remains the only departure from the Football League since the club was first admitted in 1928 (excluding wartime). United are currently the only club to have reached the final six times in the Football League Trophy, this alongside their two wins make them the most successful club in the competition's history. The club's highest achievement outside of cup competitions came in 1974 when the club was promoted to the first tier of English football and sat at the top of the league there for short time. Carlisle still remains the smallest location in England, by local population, to have had a resident top flight football team since 1906.[1]

Club honours

  • Conference National:
  • Cumberland Cup:
    • Winners (8): 1989–90, 1992–93, 2001–02, 2004–05, 2007–08, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–2013
    • Runners-up (4): 1993–94, 1999–00, 2002–03, 2006–07

Club records

As of 29 April 2011.[27]

Player records

As of 29 April 2011.[27]

League timeline


External links

  • Carlisle United F.C. – Official site
  • YouTube
  • Carlisle United play-off record

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