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Carlisle United
Carlisle United's emblem
Full name Carlisle United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Cumbrians,
Blue Army,
The Blues
Founded 1904
Ground Brunton Park Stadium
Warwick Road
(Capacity: 16,981)
Chairman Andrew Jenkins
Manager Greg Abbott
League League One
2008–09 League One, 20th
Home colours
Away colours

Carlisle United F.C. (pronounced /kɑrˈlaɪl, ˈkɑrlaɪl juːˈnaɪtɪd/) are an English football club based in Carlisle, Cumbria. Formed in 1904 the club currently compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.




Carlisle United is born

The club was formed on 17 May 1904 at Shaddongate United's Annual General Meeting[1] when the club's members voted to change the club'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 situated on Warwick Road.

There is a myth that still persists to this day that the club was formed from the amalgamation of Shaddongate United and Carlisle Red Rose. Carlisle United actually defeated Carlisle Red Rose 3-0 in the 1905/06 FA Cup.[2]

Early years

Carlisle were elected to the Football League Third Division North in 1928 replacing Durham City. They won their first game in the league, the side of Prout, Coulthard, Cook, Harrison, Ross, Pigg, Agar, Hutchison, McConnell, Ward and Watson beating Accrington Stanley 3-2.

Ivor Broadis was appointed player manager after the end of the Second World War making him the youngest league club manager in history. Broadis then had the distinction of becoming the first manager to transfer himself when he moved to Sunderland. Broadis returned as a 14 times capped ex England international in mid 1950s to add to his playing career at Brunton Park.

Carlisle were members of the Third Division North until 1958, and Fourth Division until they won their first promotion.

Golden era

Carlisle were promoted from the fourth division in 1962. They then won consecutive promotions in 1964 and 1965, and established themselves as a Second Division side.

They were promoted to the First Division for the 1974-75 season. Carlisle won their first three fixtures of the top division campaign to top the English football pyramid, with the likes of Chris Balderstone (it was Balderstone's penalty that put Carlisle top) and Bobby Parker who both made at least 375 league appearances for Carlisle. However the success was short lived and they finished the season in bottom place and were relegated.

Late 20th century

Another relegation followed in 1977 before returning to the Second Division in 1982 under Bob Stokoe. With players like Malcolm Poskett and Tommy Craig, they mounted a promotion challenge in the 1983-84 season but finished 7th after a late slump, and consecutive relegations followed in 1986 and 1987.

The 1987-88 season saw Carlisle in the Fourth Division for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century. They finished second from bottom in the league, 19 points ahead of the relegated Newport County. They reached the FA Cup Third Round, where they lost to defending league champions and eventual FA Cup winners Liverpool. A playoff position was nearly achieved 1989-90 season, but a 5-2 defeat to Maidstone United on the final day of the season meant that Carlisle remained in the Fourth Division. The following season ended with the Cumbrians 20th in the final table and cost manager Clive Middlemass his job in March. He was succeeded by Aidan McCaffrey. 1991-92 was worse still. Carlisle finished bottom of the Fourth Division, but fortuitously, due to the demise of Aldershot combined with the Football League's plan to expand to 94 clubs, no relegation to the Football Conference took part that year.

In the 1992 close season, Michael Knighton took Carlisle and within weeks had sacked manager Aidan McCaffrey following a terrible start to the new Division Three campaign. David McCreery, 35, was appointed player-manager and steered Carlisle to safety as they finished 18th in the final table.

1993-94 began with much promise with Michael Knighton announced his intention to deliver Premier League football to Carlisle by 2003. He re-organised the management team to appoint Mick Wadsworth as Director of Coaching, while David McCreery was given the role of Head Coach and 38-year-old goalkeeper Mervyn Day was named as Assistant Coach. This season was Carlisle's best in years, as the £121,000 record signing of striker David Reeves in October saw them acquire a much-needed prolific goalscorer. They won 10 of their final 14 league games to secure the final playoff place in Division Three, though their promotion dream was ended by Wycombe Wanderers in the semi-finals.

In 1994-95, Carlisle finally achieved their first major success in 13 years by lifting the Division Three title. David Reeves scored 25 league goals to help Carlisle achieve their long-awaited success which ended their eight-year ordeal in the league's basement division. They also reached the Autoglass Windscreens Trophy Final but missed out on the trophy after conceding a sudden death extra time goal against Birmingham City.

The following season was a tough one for Carlisle. Mick Wadsworth's resignation as manager in December was a major blow to Carlisle, as was the mid-season sale of key players Paul Murray and Tony Gallimore. They finished the season clear of the relegation zone with more goals than 21st-placed York City, who had to replay a game against Brighton and Hove Albion which had been abandoned due to crowd trouble. But a 3-1 victory for York sent Carlisle down, just one season after they had won promotion to Division Two. In 1996-97, young players like Rory Delap, Matt Jansen and Lee Peacock were crucial as Carlisle bounced back from relegation to achieve promotion back to Division Two at the first time of asking. The promotion joy was accompanied by a penalty shoot-out triumph over Colchester United in the Auto Windscreens Trophy Final, in which Tony Caig pulled off some impressive goalkeeping heroics.

Mervyn Day was sacked just six games into the 1997-98, and chairman Michael Knighton promptly installed himself as manager. They were still in the relegation zone come Christmas, they did manage to climb clear. But nine defeats from their final 10 games condemned Carlisle to relegation in 23rd place, with 17 goals from striker Ian Stevens not being quite enough to attain survival.

Carlisle entered the final game of the 1998-99 season needing to beat Plymouth Argyle at Brunton Park to avoid relegation and possibly extinction, and the score was still 1-1 at full time. The referee allowed four minutes of stoppage time and during the final minute Carlisle were awarded a corner. Goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, signed in an emergency loan deal after the transfer deadline, drove home a last-gasp winner which preserved Carlisle's Football League status and sent down Scarborough.

21st century

Once again, Carlisle narrowly avoided relegation in 1999-2000, finishing in second from bottom place in Division Three. They lost their final game of the season 1-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion, but were kept up by Chester City's defeat at the hands of Peterborough United.

2000-01 saw Ian Atkins, one of the most successful managers in the lower leagues, appointed at the Carlisle helm and there was much hope that he could be the man to achieve promotion. But things didn't work out, and they finished 22nd - just one place higher than in the previous two campaigns. Atkins quit at the end of the season and was succeeded by Roddy Collins.

After three seasons of close shaves with relegation, in 2001-02 Carlisle enjoyed the relative luxury of attaining a safe final position of 17th - which saw them finish 16 points clear of the relegation zone.

For the fourth time in five seasons, Carlisle narrowly avoided relegation in 2002-03. This time 22nd place was just one place above the drop zone, as this was the first season in which two clubs were relegated to the Conference instead of just one.

The writing was on the wall for Carlisle after they lost 18 of their first 21 Division Three games of the 2003-04 season. Manager Paul Simpson did all he could to salvage something from the next 25 fixtures, but couldn't quite achieve safety - 40 points from a possible 75 were effectively rendered meaningless due to Carlisle's appalling first four months of the season. Had they performed as well during the first half of the campaign as they did during the second, then they would have featured in the promotion push. Carlisle United thus became the first club to compete in all top five tiers of the English football league system (Oxford United and Luton Town, both League Cup winners, have since followed).

In 2004-05, Carlisle returned to the Football League at the first time of asking by winning the Conference National promotion playoffs.

Carlisle's excellent form under 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.

In 2006-07, Carlisle become the first visiting team to win a League One match at the Keepmoat Stadium, the new home of Doncaster Rovers after a 2-1 win on 3 February 2007. The win was part of a sequence of games in which the club - mired in mid-table - staged a late run for a play-off place, they finally finished the season in 8th place, their highest league finish for 22 years with the added bonus of returning their highest average league crowds for 30 years.

Neil McDonald was sacked one game into the 2007-08 season. This move came as a shock to the Carlisle fans,[3] Greg Abbott took over as caretaker manager[3] with Cheltenham Town manager John Ward taking over on a permanent basis in October 2007, with both clubs agreeing a six figure compensation package and Ward's contract will run for four years.[4]

Ward took Carlisle to the top of League One on 28 October, and they were still looking likely for automatic promotion at the beginning of April as they occupied second place, but could only manage a draw on the final day of the season and finished fourth. They played against Leeds United in the semi-finals. On 12 May 2007, Carlisle United played Leeds United in the League One Playoff first leg at Elland Road. Carlisle won that match 2-1 with Graham's posterior and Bridge-Wilkinson scoring the goals. Dougie Freedman scored a controversial injury time goal (in the 96th minute; only 4 minutes were shown on the fourth official's board) for Leeds to set up an enthralling second leg.

In the corresponding fixture at Brunton Park, Leeds took an early first half lead through a Jonny Howson goal, and then Howson scored his second with only seconds to spare to put the match at 3-2 on aggregate to Leeds, meaning Carlisle would spend another season in the Third Tier of English football.

The 2008-09 season began with the sale of 2 key players for a combined total of £1.5 million. On 18 June 2008, Kieren Westwood left for Coventry City, for an initial £500,000[5], while Joe Garner left for Nottingham Forest for £1.14 million, triggering a clause that made Carlisle sell him[6]. Fans favourite Michael Bridges returned on a season long loan from Hull City. Meanwhile, there was action off the field, as, on 3 July, a consortium of local businessmen, led by director and accountant David Allen completed a takeover of the club from Fred Story[7]. Carlisle's start to the season was one of their best, maintaining an unbeaten run in the league throughout August. However, this was followed by one of the poorest runs in form of recent Carlisle United history - with only one win since August, and a 6-game losing streak (ended by a draw at home against Peterborough United), Carlisle United currently languish near the bottom of League One. On 3 November, Carlisle announced that they had parted with John Ward "by mutual consent", and Greg Abbott became the caretaker manager of the club.[8]. On 5 December, Greg Abbott was announced as the permanent manager of Carlisle, after his performance in his 6 game stint and low wage demand had impressed the board enough to appoint him.[9]. Carlisle secured their place in League One after beating Millwall 2-0 on 2 May and Northampton Town were relegated to League Two. November 2009 The Blues reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup for the first time in nine years after an impressive 3-1 win over Norwich City in a foggy evening fixture at Brunton Park. On 9 February, Carlisle defeated Leeds United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Final, winning 6-5 on peanlties after the match finished 4-4 on aggregate over two legs, with Leeds winning the second leg 2-3 at Brunton Park.[10] Carlisle thus became the first club to reach the final of this competition five times.


As of 15 February 2010

Current squad

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 Adam Collin
2 England DF David Raven
3 England DF Evan Horwood
4 England MF Marc Bridge-Wilkinson
5 England DF Danny Livesey
6 Republic of Ireland DF Peter Murphy
7 England MF Joe Anyinsah
8 Republic of Ireland MF Graham Kavanagh
9 Scotland FW Scott Dobie
10 England MF Matty Robson
11 England MF Paul Thirlwell (captain)
12 England MF Tom Taiwo
13 England DF Simon Lakeland
14 Republic of Ireland DF Ian Harte
15 England MF Gavin Rothery
16 England FW Ben Marshall (on loan from Stoke City)
No. Position Player
17 England FW Richard Offiong
18 England MF Conor Tinnion
19 Scotland DF Tom Aldred
20 England MF Steve Bisley
21 Republic of Ireland DF Richard Keogh
22 England MF Michael Burns (on loan to Stafford Rangers)
23 Northern Ireland DF Tony Kane
24 England MF Kevan Hurst
25 England MF Adam Clayton (on loan from Manchester City)
26 England FW Andy Cook
27 Scotland FW Darryl Duffy (on loan from Bristol Rovers)
28 England FW Gary Madine
30 England FW Ryan Bowman
31 Wales FW Jason Price (on loan from Millwall)
39 England GK Mark Gillespie
40 England GK Lenny Pidgeley

For a complete list of former Carlisle United players with a Wikipedia article, see Category:Carlisle United F.C. players

Managerial history

Dates Manager
1904–1905 Harry Kirkbride
1905–1906 McCumiskey
1906–1908 Jack Houston
1908–1910 Bert Stansfield
1910–1912 Jack Houston
1912–1913 Davie Graham
1913–1930 George Bistow
1930–1933 Billy Hampson
1933–1935 Bill Clarke
1935–1936 Bob Kelly
1936–1938 Fred Westgarth
1938–1940 David Taylor
1940–1945 Howard Harkness
1945–1946 Bill Clarke
1946–1949 Ivor Broadis
1949–1951 Bill Shankly
1951–1958 Fred Emery
1958–1960 Andy Beattie
1960–1963 Ivor Powell
1963–1967 Alan Ashman
1967–1968 Tim Ward
1968–1970 Bob Stokoe
1970–1972 Ian MacFarlane
1972–1975 Alan Ashman
1975–1976 Dick Young
1976–1980 Bobby Moncur
1980 Martin Harvey
1980–1985 Bob Stokoe
1985 Bryan 'Pop' Robson
1985–1986 Bob Stokoe
1986–1987 Harry Gregg
1987–1991 Clive Middlemass
1991–1992 Aidan McCaffrey
1992–1993 David McCreery
1993–1996 Mick Wadsworth
(Director of Coaching)
1996–1997 Mervyn Day
1997–1998 Michael Knighton
1998–1999 Nigel Pearson
1999 Keith Mincher
1999–2000 Martin Wilkinson
2000–2001 Ian Atkins
2001–2002 Roddy Collins
2002 Billy Barr
(Caretaker manager)
2003–2006 Paul Simpson
2006–2007 Neil Mcdonald
2007 Greg Abbott
(Caretaker manager)
2007–2008 John Ward
2008 Greg Abbott
(Caretaker manager)
2008–Present Greg Abbott


  • 1905-06 - Joined Lancashire Combination Division Two
  • 1906-07 - Lancashire Combination Division Two Champions; promoted to Division One
  • 1907-08 - Lancashire Combination runner-up
  • 1910-11 - Joined North Eastern League, replacing their reserve XI
  • 1921-22 - North Eastern League Champions
  • 1927-28 - North Eastern League runner-up
  • 1928-29 - Joined Football League Division Three North
  • 1958-59 - Placed in Division Four on League reorganisation
  • 1961-62 - Promoted to Division Three
  • 1963 - Relegated to Division Four
  • 1963-64 - Football League Division Four runner-up (missed title on goal average); promoted to Division Three
  • 1964-65 - Football League Division Three Champions; promoted to Division Two
  • 1969-70 - Football League Cup semi-finalists
  • 1973-74 - Promoted to Division One
  • 1975 - FA Cup quarter-finalists
  • 1975 - Relegated to Division Two
  • 1977 - Relegated to Division Three (on goal average x2)
  • 1981-82 - Football League Division Three runner-up (missed title on goal difference); promoted to Division Two
  • 1986 - Relegated to Division Three
  • 1987 - Relegated to Division Four
  • 1992-93 - Division Four re-designated Division Three on formation of FA Premier League
  • 1994-95 - Football League Division Three Champions; promoted to Division Two; Auto Windscreens Shield (renamed The Football League Trophy as of 2002/03 season) Runner-Up (0-1 against Birmingham City in the first professional competition to be decided by Golden goal)
  • 1995-96 - Relegated to Division Three
  • 1996-97 - Promoted to Division Two after finishing in the 3rd automatic promotion position; Auto Windscreens Shield winners (4-3 on penalties after 0-0 draw against Colchester United)
  • 1998 - Relegated to Division Three
  • 2002-03 - Football League Trophy runner-up
  • 2004 - Relegated to Conference
  • 2005 - Promoted to Football League Two via play-offs- 1-0 against Stevenage
  • 2006 - Promoted to Football League One as League Two Champions; Football League Trophy runner-up
  • 2006-07 - Finished in 8th position, in Carlisle United's first appearance in League One since 1997
  • 2007-08 - Finished in 4th position. Lost in the Play-off semi-finals to Leeds United 3-2 on aggregate
  • 2008-09 - Finished in 20th position. Staved off relegation due to last game 2-0 win over Millwall at Brunton Park
  • 2009 - 4th Straight Season in Coca Cola Football League One
  • Best League position: 22nd (bottom) in 1st Division (then level 1) 1974-75
  • Best FA Cup performance: quarter-finals, 1974-75
  • Best Football League Cup performance: semi-final 1969-70
  • Best Football League Trophy performance: Winners 1996-97
  • Best FA Trophy performance: 5th round, 2004-05

Source: Carlisle United at the Football Club History Database

Player records

  • Most league goals in a season: Jimmy McConnell, 42, 1928-29
  • Most league goals in total: Jimmy McConnell, 126, 1928-1932
  • Most league appearances: Alan Ross b. 'Allan Ross', 466, (1963-1979)
  • Most capped player: Ian Harte, 64 caps, Ireland (1997–2006)
  • Record transfer fee: Joe Garner - £140,000 from Blackburn Rovers (August 2007)
  • Record sale: Matt Jansen - £2.5 million to Crystal Palace (February 1998)

Club records

  • Record Victory: 8-0 V Hartlepool United Division 3 North, 1 September 1928
  • Record Defeat: 1-11 V Hull City Division 3 North, 14 January 1939
  • Most League Goals: 113, Division 4, 1963-64


External links

Preceded by
Rotherham United
Football League Trophy Winners
Succeeded by
Grimsby Town


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