City make the swift return to League action at the Park as the Grecians host Carlisle United, who make the 700-mile round trip to Devon.
Here’s a perfect chance to reacquaint ourselves with the Cumbrians.
- 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 white and red stripe, blue shorts and socks.
- Away Kit: ERREA Black shirt with red and white stripe, black shorts and socks.
- Form: DLWWD (22nd in League Two)
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.
It has been a slow start for the Cumbrians this term. Keith Millen’s men are lounging in a red herring of 22nd ahead of this game, but are arguably performing better than the table suspects.
An experienced coach and potentially just as experienced manager, Keith Millen took charge of Carlisle in October and is trying to elevate the Cumbrians up the league.
A seasoned centre-half Millen started his youth career at Southampton in the early 80’s and played for three academies before dripping into the Brentford senior set-up in 1983. The now 55-year-old racked up well over 300 appearences for the Bees before buzzing off to the Hornets, and Watford.
Ending his career in the Westcountry with Bristol City, Millen moved into management with the Robins. Much a caretaker career, Millen has bridged Palace and MK Dons but is in a permanent role at Brunton Park, with an uphill battle to mount.
- 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.
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
With a couple of strikes to his name so far, defender-turned-midfielder Jon Mellish is the glue in the Carlisle midfield. Attracting attention from the higher leagues, Mellish committed his future to Carlisle midway through the last campaign and looks the first name on the Carlisle team sheet.
Born in the South Shields, the 24-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.
Head to Head
Affairs with Carlisle United are notoriously quite open. Carlisle took the spoils in January but City are unbeaten in the last four home 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.
Exeter City Wins: 26
Carlisle United Wins: 20
Carlisle United 1 Exeter City 0 | Brunton Park | January 30, 2021
Lewis Alessandra’s early strike proved the difference on a difficult day in the North.
Exeter City 1 Carlisle United 0 | St James Park | October 31, 2020
Tom Parkes scored against his former side, as his first-half volley took the points for the Grecians.
Carlisle United 1 Exeter City 3 | Brunton Park | September 7, 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.
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.