“In The Rain Running Down, There’s No Reason”
Saturday 28th November 2015
Football League Two
Carlisle United vs. Crawley Town
Brunton Park, situated a mile or so from the city centre, has been Carlisle’s home since 1909. Boasting an official capacity of just over 18,000, the ground is certainly one of the biggest in League Two – so, unlike many of their rivals with smaller grounds, you can see that’s there a potential for them to grow their crowds into numbers that wouldn’t look out of place in the Championship. True, the population of the town is relatively small, but as mentioned earlier – they’ve got a whole county to themselves as its only Football League representative. The stadium has suffered a couple of setbacks in its history – the grandstand burned down in 1953 and more recently, in 2005 the stadium was flooded and in 2012 the local council reduced the official capacity by around a thousand, on health and safety grounds. Walking around the ground beforehand, I can see that in parts, it’s obviously quite an old ground, but the two all-seated stands just fit naturally – I think it’s the perfect mix of ‘old and new’ and I quite like it. The interior of the stand is certainly roomy, although that may have something to do with the ground being a quarter full. The concourse has some nice football-themed stools to sit on (I’ve never even seen stools in a concourse before) as you watch Sky Sports News on a television that’s around 15 years old. At least you can be safe in knowing that the club ticks all the health and safety boxes – I notice a sticker on the front of the telly reveals it passed a PAT test in May.
One major reason for me coming here today (aside from the need to tick it off my list and to seemingly stare at electrical safety stickers on an old television, just to give you something extra to read) is that the club are charging just 10 quid to get in for today’s game. Such is the organisation of clubs these days, even in the fourth tier, I can print off my own ticket (you can’t even do that for some Premier League clubs) – although it does cost approximately a fiver in ink to print off, as it insisted on using ¾ of a page of A4 just to print the Carlisle United crest! Interesting as the city’s coat of arms is to look at, with its depiction of Carlisle Castle, surrounded by two Wyvens (a mythical creature combining a dragon’s head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs, and a tail) I’m not sure it warrants the size it takes up on my ticket. Prior to 1995, the club’s crest depicted just a fox, Olga the fox. In local folklore, Olga was a used as a reference to legendary Cumbrian huntsman, John Peel, who was the subject of the song ‘D’ye ken John Peel’ (Do you know John Peel?) The club embraced this connection and adopted a fox as part of their identity, Olga being a stuffed mascot that was brought out prior to the match. Today, the fox may have gone from the badge, but Olga lives on as the club’s human-sized stuffed mascot, who still carries out the other, smaller stuffed Olga.