Carlisle United F.C.

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Carlisle United
Carl Badge.png
Full nameCarlisle United Football Club
Nickname(s)The Cumbrians, The Blues, Blue & White Army, The Reds
Founded1896; 126 years ago (1896) (Shaddongate United)
1904; 118 years ago (1904) (official)
GroundBrunton Park
ChairmanAndrew Jenkins
ManagerPaul Simpson
LeagueEFL League Two
2021–22EFL League Two, 20th of 24
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Carlisle United Football Club (/kɑːrˈll/ kar-LYLE, locally /ˈkɑːrll/ KAR-lyle) is a professional association football club based in Carlisle, Cumbria, England. The team compete in EFL League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. They have played their home games at Brunton Park since 1909. The club's traditional kit is blue with white and red detail, whilst the badge takes elements from the city's coat of arms by including two wyverns. They are nicknamed the "Blues", due to their kit, as well as the "Cumbrians". The club is the closest English professional football club to the Anglo-Scottish border.

Formed in 1904, the club entered the Lancashire Combination the following year and were crowned Division Two champions in 1906–07. They entered the North Eastern League in 1910 and went on to win the league title in 1921–22, before being elected into the Football League in 1928. They spent the next 30 years in the Third Division North, at which point they were assigned a place in the newly formed Fourth Division, from where they won promotion in 1961–62. Relegated the following season, they then won two consecutive promotions, finishing the 1964–65 season as champions of the Third Division under the stewardship of Alan Ashman. They secured promotion out of the Second Division in 1973–74, but stayed only one season in the First Division and were relegated back to the Third Division at the end of the 1976–77 campaign. Promoted again under Bob Stokoe in 1981–82, they suffered successive relegations to return to the fourth tier by 1987.

Carlisle won promotion as champions of the fourth tier in 1994–95, but were relegated the next season, before winning promotion again in 1996–97, only to be relegated again the following year. Their 76-year stay in the Football League came to an end with relegation in 2003–04, though player-manager Paul Simpson secured an immediate return after leading United to victory in the 2005 Conference National play-off Final. They then won the League Two title in 2005–06, and remained in League One until their relegation at the end of the 2013–14 season. The club has reached the final of the Football League Trophy six times, more than any other team, winning it in 1997 and 2011, and finishing as runners-up in 1995, 2003, 2006 and 2010.


1896–1904: Shaddongate United[edit]

Shaddongate United F.C. are first reported in 1896 as the winners of the Carlisle Association Charity Shield and are recorded as playing at Willow Holme in the Shaddongate area of the city, now an industrial estate, and wearing blue and gold stripes. At the time Carlisle Red Rose and Carlisle AFC were the pre-eminent clubs in Carlisle but the new club quickly gained a following and by the time Carlisle AFC folded in 1899 they were considered a force to be reckoned with. By 1903 they had overtaken Red Rose and were further cemented as the city's biggest club when Red Rose's entire team were banned for four months by the Cumberland Football Association for taking part in a Scottish amateur tournament in contravention of league rules.

A myth has persisted that Shaddongate and Red Rose had merged to form Carlisle United and this likely led the club to adopt 1904 as their official date of foundation, though Red Rose continued until 1906 at which point they folded. Only in 2017 did more information about the early part of their history come to light. [1]

1904–1928: Carlisle United[edit]

On 17 May 1904 at Shaddongate United's annual general meeting[2] the club's members voted to change the team's name to Carlisle United. The initial idea having been proposed by Newcastle United officials who felt it would aid them when applying to regional football leagues if they represented the entire city. At the time they 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, 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. Carlisle received the second-most votes with 33, and replaced Durham City, who had received just 11 votes, as members of the Football League.

1928–1964: Football League[edit]

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 that 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: Golden era[edit]

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 end of the 71/72 season also saw Carlisle play their only European competition in the club's history, the Anglo-Italian Cup, and 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 missed out on the Third Division title in 81/82 by goal difference alone.

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: Doldrums[edit]

Carlisle ended their most prosperous period as rapidly as it had started. Back to back relegations saw them drop into the Fourth Division in 1987. 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 next few seasons were similarly disappointing, with Carlisle frequently finishing in the lower reaches of the Fourth Division. In 1992, they finished bottom of the league but were not relegated due to there being no relegation from the Fourth Division that season, as well as Aldershot going out of business before the season's end.

A brief respite in Carlisle's decline then came when the club was taken over by Michael Knighton, the man who had made headlines in 1989 with his failed takeover bid for Manchester United. He made the funds available for new players to be signed, and in 1994 Carlisle reached the playoffs in the recently rebranded Division Three, a year after narrowly avoiding relegations. Although they lost in the playoffs that year, they were promoted a year later as champions, only to be relegated the following season. They achieved an instant return to Division Two in 1997, only to go straight back down again. Knighton sold the club soon afterwards, and Carlisle entered another period of strife and struggle.

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]

Over the next five seasons, Carlisle were frequently in the struggle to avoid relegation to the Conference, finally being relegated in 2003-04 after 76 years in the Football League. Relegation had seemed inevitable since well before Christmas, with 18 of Carlisle's first 21 games ending in defeat. A revival followed under new player-manager Paul Simpson, and Carlisle actually managed to finish second from bottom in the table after York City's failure to win any of their final 20 league games, with Carlisle's relegation being confirmed when they failed to win their penultimate game of the season.

2005–2012: Resurgence[edit]

Carlisle United completing a lap of honour at Wembley after winning the Football League Trophy in 2011.

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 Greg Abbott, signing him permanently after he uplifted the club's 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 were 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. The following season started successfully for the Cumbrians with Rory Loy, Lee Miller and Zoko all forming a hugely successful strike-partnership. They sustained a considerable play-off push throughout the season. Having occupied 6th place (final play-off position) for a period of the season, a dip in form towards the end of the seasons saw The Cumbrians miss out by just two points to Stevenage, meaning a successful seasons for the Cumbrians couldn't be rounded off with an appearance in the League One play-offs.

The following season began in disappointing manner. Following a number of heavy defeats the club found themselves drafted into a relegation battle, occupying the final relegation spot for a period of the season. However, a resurgence of form in the New Year following the return of target man Lee Miller, and fellow front-man Rory Loy saw Carlisle string together a number of good results to claw themselves clear of the relegation zone, eventually finishing the season in 17th position. The club retained Greg Abbott as manager, offering a 1-year extension to his current deal, whilst also extending assistant Graham Kavanagh's contract for another season.

The 2013-14 season started in disastrous style, with a 5–1 home defeat against Leyton Orient in which striker Lee Miller was sent off for violent conduct. A 4–0 drubbing away at Bradford City followed, before another 4–0 defeat at the hands of Coventry at home, before scraping points against Colchester and Brentford. Another heavy defeat in the League Cup followed as Championship side Leicester City secured a 5–2 victory at Brunton Park, before a narrow 1–0 home defeat to Port Vale spelled the end of Abbott's 5-year reign as United manager, just 2 points from 6 games had been the final straw for the club's Board.

2013–present: Custodian ownership[edit]

Following Abbott's sacking, assistant manager Graham Kavanagh was installed as caretaker manager,[11] appointed on a permanent basis on 30 September 2013, signing a two-year contract.[12] Following three-straight League Wins under Kavanagh and some much improved performances, Kavanagh was installed as permanent boss on a two-year deal.

On 3 May 2014 Carlisle were relegated, ending an 8-year spell in the third tier having finished 22nd following a disastrous run of results under Kavanagh, meaning the club would compete in League Two for the 2014-15 league season.[13] Kavanagh removed assistant manager Davie Irons from his post as assistant manager early in pre-season as work to overhaul the playing, and backroom staff was underway in Kavanagh's project to turn Carlisle into a top footballing side.[14] Graham Kavanagh was sacked on 1 September 2014, following a winless start to the season, a 5–0 away defeat to newly promoted Cambridge United[15] proved to be the final straw; alongside a record run of 15 league matches without a win for the club, ultimately culminating in Kavanagh being removed from his role as manager.[16] He left the club having one of the worst records of any manager in the club's history, with a win ratio of only 25% and a relegation under his name. On 19 September 2014 Keith Curle was appointed as Carlisle United manager, along with his former assistant Colin West.[17] They signed a deal until the end of the 2015-16 season.

Curle got off to a flying start, winning his first full-match as manager 1–0 against fellow strugglers Tranmere Rovers.[18] This was followed by a 3–0 victory over rivals Hartlepool United,[19] and another home 3–0 victory against Stevenage.[20] The run of form lifted Carlisle from the foot of the table, and out of the relegation zone. The surge in form soon petered out however, and United again found themselves near the trapdoor of the Football League's basement division. 7 points from 3 games towards the back end of the season meant that Carlisle secured their Football League safety with 2 games to spare, following a 2–0 home victory over promotion-chasing Plymouth Argyle,[21] just 4 days after a courageous 1–1 draw away at Champions Burton Albion.[22] The next season was a much better one but not enough for a promotion push, with the team finishing 10th. A highlight of the season was a visit at Anfield for the third round of the League Cup and a famous 1–1 draw against giants Liverpool, but lost 3–2 on penalties.[23]

The first half of the 2016-17 season was excellent for the club, with just one loss (against then-bottom Newport County) in their first 23 league fixtures.[24] The play-offs seemed almost guaranteed. However a disastrous sequence followed, with only 4 wins in the next 21 games including 10 losses resulting in a drop from 2nd to 10th with only two games remaining. But a comeback home win against Newport County[25] combined with favourable results elsewhere were enough to put them back into the play-off positions. Then, another comeback at play-off bound Exeter City in the last game proved enough for a final position of 6th, and a play-off semifinal showdown with the same opponent.[26] However, Exeter beat them 6–5 on aggregate to condemn Carlisle to another season in League 2.[27]

Keith Curle left Carlisle United at the end of the 2017-18 League Two season[28] after over four years in charge. He was replaced by John Sheridan.[29] On 4 January 2019, John Sheridan resigned as the Carlisle manager in order to become manager of National League side Chesterfield[30] with the club in the last play-off position. Sheridan was replaced by Steven Pressley[31] who saw the Cumbrians finish the season in 11th place.

In November 2019, Pressley was sacked with the Cumbrians in 19th place.[32] Pressley was replaced by Chris Beech.[33] The 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the Cumbrians in a disappointing 18th place.[34] Beech then set about the task of re-building the squad following the disappointing 18th-placed finish, bringing in a raft of new signings and developing a new football system. The 2020–21 season started in positive fashion for the blues with the club sitting top of the table at Christmas, resulting in Beech signing a new contract extension. However a string of weather based postponements combined with COVID-19 infections throughout the squad meant that only 1 fixture was completed in 8 weeks from January until late February. The postponements meant Carlisle had to play Saturday-Tuesday every week until the end of the season, a poor run of form saw the side slip from top to 14th in the table, however results picked up towards the end of the season seeing the Cumbrians finish in 10th place.

The 2020-21 close season saw a number of first team regulars depart the blues including club captain Nick Anderton, goalkeeper Paul Farman and winger Omari Patrick. Beech set about again rebuilding his squad for the 2021–22 season to try and mount a further promotion push.

On 10 October 2021, manager Chris Beech was sacked due to a poor run of form for Carlisle and replaced by Keith Millen on the 26th October 2021. In the January transfer window Millen brought in a number of players including club favourites Omari Patrick and Jamie Devitt but unfortunately Millen could not turn the blues season around and after a 3-0 defeat at home by Swindon Town and a run of bad results Keith Millen was sacked on the 23rd of February 2022. Paul Simpson was announced as the new manager the same day. "Simmo" led the blues to 8 wins, 1 draw and 6 defeats which was enough to pull the club from the relegation zone and keep Carlisle in the football league.

Colours and badge[edit]

Carlisle United's current emblem is similar to the city's coat of arms, registered in 1924.[35]

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.[36] 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.[36]

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.[35][36] 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'.[35]

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.[35]

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, had 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 deal ended for the 2014-15 season, ending one of the longest-running sponsorship deals in English football.

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 Football League Trophy final in respect of Edward Stobart (son of Eddie), who died three days earlier.[37]

Period Kit Suppliers Shirt Sponsor
1973–1976 Umbro None
1976–1981 Admiral
1981–1982 Umbro
1982–1988 McEwan's Younger
1988–1990 Bukta Sealy
1990–1992 Ribero
1992–1993 Matchwinner Lloyd Motor Group
1993–1995 Conway Vauxhaull
1995–1997 Red Fox Eddie Stobart
1997–2000 Stobart
2000–2002 Errea Eddie Stobart
2002–2005 Umbro
2005–2007 Le Coq Sportif
2007–2011 Stobart
2011–2012 Carbrini Sportswear
2012–2014 Fila
2014–2016 Sondico Virgin Trains[38]
2016–2017 DSD Construction
2017–2019 Umbro Edinburgh Woollen Mill
2019-2021 Erreà
2021–Present Thomas Graham


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.[35]

The stadium has a capacity of 18,202 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.

A view over Brunton park from the Paddock towards the East (The Pioneer Foods) Stand.

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 Sky Bet Championship. The proposals have received mixed responses from Carlisle fans. There has since been no news as to whether the project has any advancement.

In December and January of the 2015–16 season, Carlisle played their home games at Deepdale in Preston, Bloomfield Road in Blackpool and Ewood Park in Blackburn, as Brunton Park recovered from flooding caused by Storm Desmond.[39]

In December 2021, the club announced that the stadium capacity would be temporarily reduced to 9,999, after the government required attendees at events with a capacity of greater than 10,000 to show Covid certification.[40]


Carlisle United operates through the limited company Carlisle United Association Football Club (1921) Ltd[41] which is currently controlled by local businessmen Andrew Jenkins, Steven Pattison and John Nixon, who have a controlling 74.6% stake in the club's holding company, CUFC Holdings Ltd. A minority (25.4%) stake is held by The United Trust, formed by supporters in 2001. Jenkins is 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 fifty years and has served in various roles within the backroom during previous ownership. Nixon is former MD of Pirelli Tyres.[42] Jenkins became the majority shareholder ahead of John Nixon and Steven Pattison, through the transfer of shares from former owner David Allen.[43]

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 released plans to move to a modern all seater stadium, however these plans fell through. Recent years have seen the club stagnate and decline both in terms of league position and attendances. The club has recently[when?] gone through its longest period in history without promotion.[44]

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'.[45]

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 due 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.[citation needed]

Supporters and rivalries[edit]

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 rivals are Workington and Barrow. However, both clubs were voted out of the Football League in the 1970s and consequently competitive matches between the teams have been rare. Barrow were promoted back to the Football League in 2020, reinstating competitive matches between the two teams. Prior to 2008, the club's nearest professional football club was Gretna, owned by Carlisle United fan, Brooks Mileson.[46] Gretna were residents of the Scottish Football League however and, therefore, the chance of meeting in competitive competition remained highly unlikely. Gretna was eventually liquidated in 2008.[47]

In 2012, market research company FFC surveyed fans of every Football League club across the country to find who they consider their main rivals to be. Carlisle United fans were unusually shown to consider the more distant Preston North End, Hartlepool United and Middlesbrough as their main rivals. This is most likely explained by the fact that the survey did not include the option of choosing non-league clubs.[48]


Current squad[edit]

As of 15 September 2022[49]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Czech Republic CZE Tomáš Holý
2 DF England ENG Joel Senior
3 DF Scotland SCO Jack Armer
4 MF England ENG Owen Moxon
5 DF England ENG Morgan Feeney
6 DF England ENG Paul Huntington
7 FW England ENG Jordan Gibson
8 MF England ENG Callum Guy (captain)
9 FW England ENG Ryan Edmondson
10 FW England ENG Omari Patrick
11 MF England ENG Brennan Dickenson
12 MF England ENG Sonny Hilton (on loan from Fulham)
13 GK England ENG Gabriel Breeze
14 FW England ENG Kristian Dennis
15 MF England ENG Taylor Charters
No. Pos. Nation Player
16 FW England ENG Tobi Sho-Silva
17 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Corey Whelan
18 MF England ENG Josh Dixon
20 DF England ENG Jack Ellis
21 GK England ENG Scott Simons
22 DF England ENG Jon Mellish
25 DF England ENG Fin Back (on loan from Nottingham Forest)
26 DF England ENG Ben Barclay (on loan from Stockport County)
28 MF Republic of Ireland IRL Jamie Devitt
29 MF England ENG Jayden Harris
30 GK Republic of Ireland IRL Michael Kelly
32 FW Scotland SCO Jack Stretton (on loan from Derby County)
33 DF England ENG Duncan Idehen (on loan from Bristol City)
35 MF England ENG Ryan Carr

Out on loan[edit]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
19 FW England ENG Sam Fishburn (on loan to Morpeth Town)
23 MF England ENG Lewis Bell (on loan to Gretna 2008)
24 DF England ENG Max Kilsby (on loan to Annan Athletic)

Notable players[edit]

Club management[edit]

Coaching positions[edit]

As of 19 June 2022[50]
Name Nationality Role
Paul Simpson  England First Team Manager
Gavin Skelton  England First Team Coach
Paul Gerrard  England Head of Goalkeeping
Ross Goodwin  Scotland Physiotherapist
Jamie Roper  England Strength and Conditioning Coach
Greg Abbott  England Head of Recruitment
Jacob Blain  England Performance Analyst
Colin Nixon  England Kit Manager
Simon Friel  England Academy Manager
Dave Wilkes  England Head of Academy Coaching
Mark Birch  England Lead Professional Development Phase Coach
Vacant Professional Development Phase Coach
John Foley  England Youth Development Phase Coach
Warren Matthews  England Foundation Phase Coach
Vacant Academy Goalkeeping Coach
Dave Cullen  England Academy Physiotherapist
Greg Short  England Academy Strength Coach
Tracy Gannon  England Ladies Manager

Notable managers[edit]

The following managers have all achieved honours with Carlisle United.

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

02/2022 -

League Two championship Winners: 2005–06

Football League Trophy Runners-up: 2005–06
Football Conference promotion play-off Winners: 2004–05

Roddy Collins  Ireland 08/2001 – 02/2002
07/2002 – 08/2003
Football League Trophy Runners-up: 2002–03
Mervyn Day  England 1996–1997 Football League Second Division Third Runners-up: 1996–97

Football League Trophy Winners: 1996–97

Mick Wadsworth  England 1993–1996 Football League Second Division Winners: 1994–95

Football League Trophy Runners-up: 1995–96

Bob Stokoe  England 1968 – 1970
1980 – 1985
1985 – 1986
Football League Third Division Runners-up: 1981–82
Alan Ashman  England 1963 – 1967
1972 – 1975
Football League Second Division Third Runners-up: 1973–74

Football League Third Division Winners: 1964–65
Football League Fourth Division Runners-up: 1963–64

Honours and achievements[edit]

Football League Second Division / Championship (second tier)

Football League Third Division / League One (third tier)

Football League Fourth Division / League Two (4th tier)

Conference National (fifth tier)

Football League Trophy

Lancashire Combination Division One

  • Runners-up (1): 1907–08

Lancashire Combination Division Two

  • Champions (1): 1906–07

North Eastern League

  • Champions (1): 1921–22
  • Runners-up (1): 1927–28

Cumberland Senior Cup

  • Winners (29): 1901–02, 1902–03, 1904–05, 1908–09, 1910–11, 1912–13, 1921–22, 1923–24, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1929–30, 1930–31, 1931–32, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1938–39, 1939–40, 1979–80, 1989–90, 1992–93, 2001–02, 2004–05, 2007–08, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2018–19
  • Runners-up (13): 1906–07, 1909–10, 1913–14, 1914–15, 1934–35, 1936–37. 1937–38, 1984–85, 1993–94, 1999–00, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2006–07

League history[edit]

A chart displaying Carlisle United's season end league position from election to the Football League to present.

To date Carlisle United have played 82 seasons in the Football League, their relegation in 2004 and reinstatement the following 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 of the Football League Trophy on six occasions. This, alongside their two wins, makes 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 spent a short period of time at the top of the division. Carlisle still remains the smallest location in England, by local population, to have had a resident top-flight football team since 1906.[51]

Club records[edit]

As of 7 Jan 2021.[52]


  1. ^ Temporarily reduced to 9,999


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  24. ^ "Newport County 2-0 Carlisle United". BBC Sport. 12 November 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
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  26. ^ "Exeter City 2-3 Carlisle United". BBC Sport. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Exeter City 3-2 Carlisle United (6-5)". BBC Sport. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Keith Curle: Carlisle United boss to leave at the end of the season". BBC Sport. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  29. ^ "John Sheridan: Carlisle United appoint new manager". BBC Sport. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Chesterfield set toappoint John Sheridan after Carlisle United resignation". BBC Sport. 4 January 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  31. ^ "Steven Pressley: Carlisle United name ex-Scotland defender as manager". BBC Sport. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Steven Pressley: Carlisle United sack manager after 10 months in charge". BBC Sport. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  33. ^ "Chris Beech: Carlisle United appoint former Rochdale coach as boss". BBC Sport. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  34. ^ "League Two clubs vote to end season, but League One teams fail to decide". BBC Sport. 15 May 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
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  38. ^ "TRAVEL: First Class from Virgin Trains". Carlisle United F.C. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  39. ^ Cartwright, Phil (20 December 2015). "Football League: Five things you may have missed". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  40. ^ Colman, Jon. "Carlisle United announce new Brunton Park capacity amid 'Plan B' Covid protocols". News and Star. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
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  42. ^ Amanda Little (19 July 2004). "Jenkins offers his experience to Fred Story". News and Star. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  43. ^ Chris Story (7 November 2009). "Jenkins becomes majority shareholder". News and Star. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  44. ^ John Colman (30 October 2009). "Carlisle Utd is 'old boys' club that is letting down the fans' – David Allen". News and Star. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  45. ^ Nigel Bunyan (19 November 1996). "Soccer chief who saw UFO is under the moon". UFOs over America. Retrieved 22 May 2006.
  46. ^ Harris, Nick (4 September 2006). "Brooks Mileson: 'This club is in my soul. I would have ended up croaking if I had not come to Gretna'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 5 April 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  47. ^ Amanda Little (8 July 2008). "Liquidation signals the final nail in Gretna coffin". The Cumberland News. Archived from the original on 14 March 2009.
  48. ^ "Club Rivalries Uncovered" (PDF). Football Fans Census. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  49. ^ "Carlisle United FC Player Profiles". Carlisle United F.C. Retrieved 2 June 2016.[failed verification]
  50. ^ "Meet the Coaching Staff". Carlisle united FC. 12 April 2011. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  51. ^ * "United Kingdom Census". Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  52. ^ "Carlisle United Club Records". Carlisle united FC. 16 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2013.

External links[edit]