It’s great to see Carlisle at the top of the table for the first time in four years. They say it’s tough at the top, and teams do raise their game against you. But I’d sooner be top than second.

And it’s tougher at the bottom, as Chris Beech knows from when he came to the club. He was promoted to League One with Rochdale as assistant to Keith Hill so this situation isn’t brand new to him.

I was pleased for young midfielder Taylor Charters making his full debut in the win at Walsall last Saturday, and marking it with an assist. He’ll remember that game for the rest of his life. It is easier to come into a confident team than a struggling one. It’s always good to see a local lad coming through, and that Beech has the confidence to bring young lads in. Hopefully it’s the start of a long and distinguished career for Charters.

The best news of the week has been Rhys Bennett signing until the end of the season. He’s made a big difference to the defence, and the whole team. He’s got that experience. There’ll be times in games when you rely on old heads.

The team at Walsall was without Jon Mellish and several other regulars. It shows there’s a bit more strength in depth now.

Carlisle are at home to Orient tomorrow. They’re just outside the play-offs. Carlisle probably lifted their game when they were allowed 2,000 fans for the previous four home matches. Having said that, they’d done well previously without relying on fans. Hopefully they’ll just go back to that. And all clubs are in the same boat.

Then on Tuesday night it’s back to Harrogate to replay the game that was abandoned after 10 minutes last week. I don’t think I ever played in a match that was abandoned. When I watch games from the 70s on TV, you see the state of pitches even at the likes of Tottenham and Man United. The Baseball Ground at Derby was probably the worst in the country. And Ewood Park was like a bottomless pit when it turned heavy. Dick Young always drilled possession football into us. But at certain grounds it was just a battle. Play long balls and hope you get the right bounce. Even the pitches at lower league clubs have improved so much since then.

This weekend is one of my favourites of the season: the FA Cup third round. There are some great ties, with Marine v Spurs the most eye-catching. It’s just a shame that in years to come Marine’s fans won’t be able to say “I was there”.

I know the FA Cup isn’t like it used to be. But I still think it’s the best cup competition in the world, because of ties like Marine v Spurs. In years gone by big clubs fielded more or less their first team for matches like that. Now they’ve got such big squads they can give young lads a game and play fringe players. That gives lower league teams more of a chance, as we saw with Shrewsbury taking Liverpool to a replay last season. Regardless of results, I just hope football can keep going. It’s a morale booster for a lot of people right now.