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🔎 Opposition: Carlisle United (H)

Jed Penberthy with the lowdown on Saturday's opposition

28 January 2021

Exeter City are back in action this Saturday as the Grecians make the 700-mile round-trip to Carlisle for a 1pm kick off.

Ahead of the weekends enticing fixture against the Cumbrians, here is a background of our hosts.

  • Founded: 1904
  • Nickname: The Cumbrians, The Blues
  • Honours: Division 3 (1964/65), Third Division (1994/95), League 2 (2006/06)
  • Home Kit: ERREA Blue shirts with dark blue sleeves, white shorts, and blue socks.
  • Away Kit: ERREA Peach shirt, Peach shorts and socks.
  • Form: WWLDW (6th in League Two, 4 games-in-hand over 1st)

Carlisle United came into being when members of Shaddongate United opted to change their name in May 1904. The new club was admitted into the Second Division of the Lancashire League for the 1905/06 season, winning promotion almost immediately. The nicknames are self-explanatory but the City itself has a rich military history.

Due to its obvious proximity to Scotland, Carlisle was a central hub in the supplying the forts along Hadrian’s Wall, during the Roman Conquest. Due to border wars, by the Norman invasion of 1066, Carlisle was actually part of Scotland, but in 1092 William II incorporated Cumbria back into England, and built Carlisle Castle a year later.

In 1928, Carlisle were promoted to the Football League for the first time in their history, joining Division 3 (North), though relegation beckoned soon after. It was in 1958 they returned to the League, where the club would then yo-yo between Division’s 3 and 4 for the next 7 years. After a champion’s promotion to Div 2 in ’65, The Cumbrians would achieve back-to-back promotions in ‘74/75 to reach Division 1 where they were, again, swiftly relegated.

The rest of the twentieth century saw the Blues bounce between leagues never reaching the promised land of Division 1 again. In 2004, Carlisle would be relegated from the league all together, dropping down to the conference for a season. This in turn led to Carlisle’s second back-to-back promotions into League 1 in 2006, where they would stay until 2014.

Carlisle have threatened promotion a couple of times in recent years, most notably for Exeter fans in 2017 in one of the most classic play-off battles in the division’s history. Yet last season was a write-off in all senses of the word, as the Blues finished in 18th.

The Manager

Chris Beech

The 46-year-old began his career at hometown club Blackpool. The midfielder amassed over 275 club appearances in his 10-year playing career. Beech was appointed caretaker role at Rochdale in 2011 and became Keith Hill’s assistant at the club 2 years later. Both departed Dale in 2019, and later that year Beech was installed as Carlisle head coach.

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The 2020/21 season has seen his management stock rise considerably and from looking like dark horses for the leap up to League One, now look like one of the forerunners in the race to the Third Tier.

The Ground

  • Name: Brunton Park
  • Capacity: 17,949
  • Year opened: 1909
  • Address: Warwick Road, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 1LL

Brunton Park is the largest stadium in England that is not all-seater, where three of the sides are free standing terraces. Opened in 1909 to replace the old Devonshire Park, the grounds record attendance of 27,500 came in 1957 in an FA Cup tie vs Birmingham City.

The ground has had some disasters over the years. In 1953 the original main stand burnt down in an electrical fire, and the club sold Geoff Twentyman to Liverpool to fund the renovations.

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In 2005, Carlisle’s three rivers burst their banks creating a stadium sized lake. For the next six weeks The Blues were forced to travel to 70 miles to Morecambe to play their home games. The ground would flood again in 2009 and 2015.

Carlisle have been planning a move away from Brunton Park into a new 12,000 all seater stadium since 2011, but the long-term stalemate meant that nothing has ever come to fruition.

One to Watch

Jon Mellish

Position: Midfielder

Into double figures for the season, defender-turned-midfielder Jon Mellish’s form has catapulted Chris Beech’s side into promotion contention. Attracting attention from the higher leagues, Mellish committed his future to Carlisle earlier on in the season and looks the first name on the Carlisle team sheet.

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Born in the South Shields, the 23-year-old began his career at Gateshead before moving to Carlisle in 2019. In 2018/19 he represented England C team before his jump into the Football League. 

Just as often as he scores goals, he also picks up yellows- so expect Mellish to be firm in the tackle. City need to keep a tight lid on Mellish if the Grecians are going to ground out a result.

Mellish isn’t the only one in the Carlisle squad set to cause City a few headaches, check out a few others that may have an influence here.

Head to Head

Affairs with Carlisle United are notoriously quite open. City are unbeaten in the last eight meetings with the Cumbrians, with the last defeat coming on the final day of the 2016/17 season- which meant both teams would meet a week later in the League Two Play-offs. No prizes for remembering what happened next.

In 62 meetings with the border club, 156 goals have been produced at little over 2.5 per game, however in the last 10 meetings in all competitions the average is nearly 4 goals a game.

  • Exeter City Wins: 26
  • Draws: 17
  • Carlisle United Wins: 19

Recent Encounters

Exeter City 1-0 Carlisle United, 31/10/2020

Tom Parkes scored against his former side, as his first-half volley took the points for the Grecians.

Carlisle United 1-3 Exeter City, 7/9/2019

Nicky Law made it three goals in three games against Carlisle, with the help from Messrs Aaron and Lee Martin, to ensure the points returned to Devon, in an early season encounter. 

Carlisle United 1- 1 Exeter City, 9/2/19

Nicky Law’s first half strike was cancelled out by Jamie Devitt’s free kick, as the Grecians extended their unbeaten run to 4. 

Exeter City 3-1 Carlisle United, 4/9/18

In Matt Taylor’s first game in charge of City, finishes from Nicky Law, Jonathan Forte and Tristan Abrahams saw off our visitors from the north. 

And Finally…

Iconic Scotsman Bill Shankly’s first managerial appointment was at Carlisle United, in 1949. Shankly was able to rebuild the team, bringing in six fresh faces including Billy Hogan for the club record £4,000.

It ended badly, however, because in 1951 Shankly accused the board of reneging a bonus for the players, should the team finish in the top three of the League. Shortly after, he resigned and accepted an offer from Grimsby Town.

How to Watch

Whilst we would love you to be there, showing your passionate support for the Grecians, you can get the next best thing by purchasing a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes the live club commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

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