Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Carlisle United - Brunton Park

Not the correct
programme, I know.
16th April 2002

Carlisle United 0-0 Cheltenham Town

I drove down to Carlisle on a whim to take in this game – even now I can see the mixture of shock and bemusement on Father-in-Law’s face when I told him I had driven to Carlisle and back for an evening football match. “Why?” he asked.  “You are asking the wrong person here”, I thought.

But after parking in Carlisle, I did meet couple of folks whose behaviour was at least as singular as my own.  Unfamiliar with the town, I stopped a pair of likely looking lads who had that purposeful stride thing going on – you know the one; that men on their way to the football do.  I asked directions and, as I had hoped, was told “Follow us.  We’re on our way to the ground”. 

But here’s the thing.  They were not going to watch the match, but solely to protest outside.  Apparently, each home match (presumably not away ones), they went along to Brunton Park, stood outside and shouted abuse at club owner, Michael Knighton for 15 minutes or so.  Then they went home again.  This made my 240 mile round trip look positively sane, and I consoled myself 240 miles was a good deal less than the Cheltenham supporters were undertaking.

But they, I suppose, at least had the excuse of an emotional investment in the outcome of the match.  Particularly so as a win would guarantee Cheltenham Town promotion to (what was then) Division Two.  However, the travelling support were to endure a dreadfully frustrating evening as their side failed to break down a Carlisle side who were effectively marking time until the end of the season, and hence seemed content just to make as big a nuisance of themselves as possible to their visitors. 

A tall youngster by the name of Nathan Tyson, who had come on as a late sub for the visitors had a chance to see his name in lights right at the end, but biffed his attempt straight at Carlisle ‘keeper Peter Keen.  In the event Cheltenham did achieve promotion that season, but only via the tortuous route of the play-offs.

Outside Brunton Park, Carlisle

The Warwick Road end with its multi-span roof erected in 1965.

The Cheltenham support.  'Tis better to travel in hope etc.

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