Carlisle United
Brunton Park

Ground No. 86
Visited - Saturday 4th February 2006
Result - Carlisle United 5-0 Chester City
Competition - Coca-Cola League 2
Attendance - 6581

On coming back from Glasgow in January, I’d had a bit of good luck with the return portion of my ticket not being stamped by the train conductor, so with this being valid for up to a month, it meant that I could get up to Scotland again for just £10 and use that ticket coming back. I had got in mind visiting one of the Edinburgh teams, however when checking through the fixtures there wasn’t really anything that stood out as feasible, so the next best thing was Carlisle, which being on the route back from Glasgow and due to the distance, being fairly expensive normally, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

Unfortunately, in the days leading up to the match I hadn’t been too well, and if I hadn’t have already booked the train ticket outwards, I probably wouldn’t have made the trip, but come the day of the match I decided to brave it, and set out early to catch the 7:40am train direct to Cumbria.

The journey didn’t start well, with the train being 20 minutes late, but after leaving Wolverhampton, it seemed to make some time up, and by Preston we were back on schedule, and eventually completed the journey, arriving into Carlisle at 11:45am.

As usual, I decided to go straight to the ground to see if I could get in early, and after going round the outside taking pictures, found a gate with a steward on, who was quite happy for me to go through and into the stands.

Once inside, the first thing that draws your attention to it is the Warwick Road End, with its multi-span roof covering a fair sized terrace, that didn’t quite stretch back to the rear of the stand, with banking behind it running down to the toilets/food areas. Next to it was the Main Stand, which is one of the more interesting stands that I’ve seen on my travels, with a good sized lower tier of terracing, below an upper tier of seats, however the upper tier seems to have been added to in different stages, with the older middle section having a large, sloping roof, whilst being flanked by two newer sections of seating, with roofs only covering the seating itself, leaving the terracing to the sides uncovered. Opposite the Main Stand is the East Stand, which is an attractive, modern all-seated stand, running the full length of the pitch, except starting about 10-15 yards in from the Warwick Road End, meaning it stretches beyond the far end of the playing area. Apparently during redevelopment, the pitch was due to be moved northwards, which would explain this, however money ran dry and the club were left with a stand out of alignment with the rest of the ground. Completing the picture was the Petterill End, which unfortunately somewhat let the rest of the ground down, being a small strip of uncovered terracing, leaving the away fans very much open to the elements. Another interesting feature of the ground were the floodlights, which were the traditional four corner, pylon type, except instead of having the lights situated in a square box on top of the pylon, they were actually attacked to the pylon itself. Also, there were only three of these, with the fourth one having presumably been taken down due to the East Stand now taking up that corner of the ground (there were lights attached to the roof of the stand here).

After having taken enough pictures, I eventually left the ground and headed round to the club shop, and then the ticket office, getting my ticket in advance, before going off into town to spend a few hours looking around, doing my best not to fall down dead, whilst still feeling ill!

With time catching up, I eventually started to head back to the ground, going in at about 2:50pm. With the weather not looking particularly good, and me not really feeling up to standing on a cold, open terrace, I’d opted for the cover of the Warwick Road End, and so found a spot in there just to the left of the goal towards the front, lower down than I’d usually like, but with the roof supports being fairly thick, it was difficult to find a good view unless standing in the already well populated central area.

The game soon got started and from the off, the home side really went for it, and could easily have been three up before in the 14th minute, Adam Murray opened the scoring with a well taken goal, after a turn and a shot in the area which the goalkeeper got a hand to, but couldn’t stop the ball just going across the line. After this, it was all Carlisle, and the impressive Michael Bridges nearly made it two with a good lob that fell just the wrong side of the post. As the half wore on, Chester, who were wearing a very similar strip to Carlisle, eventually seemed to wake up, and started attacking the Warwick Road End, with Derek Asamoah going close on a couple of occasions, but with half-time looming the hosts doubled their lead, when on the break Michael Bridges made some room for himself in the box, before tucking away his shot into the bottom corner of the net. 

The second half started in much the same manner as the first had ended, with both teams looking for goals, and in the 49th minute, it looked like the visitors had found a way back in, when after a clumsy challenge, they won themselves a penalty in front of their own supporters. Ex-Wolves man Michael Branch stepped up, but it was the home goalkeeper who won out, saving the ball with his feet with none of the Chester players managing to follow up on the rebound. Carlisle had shouts of their own for a penalty, with Chester players handling in the area, and making several rash challenges throughout the game. The visitors were soon made to pay for their dangerous play, and in the 58th minute the referee listened to the appeals of the home side after another poor challenge, resulting in a spot kick for Carlisle. Chris Lumsdon took the kick, and had no problem in smashing it home for 3-0, and with this the game was as good as over for Chester. Despite this, Carlisle weren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and just four minutes later it was 4-0, after a cross in from Michael Bridges and a flick on from Derek Holmes, Karl Hawley popped up to place the ball into the bottom left hand corner much to the joy of the home fans. It wasn’t over at that though, and with the clock running down, in the 82nd minute Glenn Murray finished the scoring for the afternoon, when he ran into the box and put the ball past the hapless Chester keeper, making the final score 5-0 to the home side.

Despite the Warwick Road End seeming a really good stand to get some noise going in, there never seemed to be much singing from this end of the ground, with most of the noise coming from the East Stand, but despite this, the impressive win put the home fans in a good mood, and walking out of the ground, it seemed a good time to be a Carlisle fan, with the team having just gone top of the league after this win.

After a quick walk back to the station, the train home soon arrived, and I was back on it for the long journey south, this time getting the ticket checked! 

Despite nearly dying from the effects of man flu, overall it was quite a good day out. The ground really is a unique one, and sadly is one of a dying breed with plenty of terracing, and character in abundance. The modern East Stand really fits in well with its surroundings and the only disappointing thing was the Petterill End, where if there had perhaps been a roof covering the terracing, it really would have been a brilliant ground, but despite this it is one that hopefully I’ll get the chance to come back to before long, and it certainly goes in as one of my favourites so far. 

Welcome to Brunton Park

The Hugh McIlmoyle Statue

The Club Shop

Rear of the Warwick Road End

Rear of the Main Stand

The Main Reception

The Petterill End

Rear of the East Stand

The Petterill End

The Main Stand

The East Stand

The Warwick Road End

The Main Stand

The Petterill End

The East Stand

Brunton Park Panoramic

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