The concluding part of our review of Carlisle United's 2018...


This being Carlisle United, there were more than a few. To start with, the way Keith Curle’s future was handled attracted plenty of criticism - likewise the process of anointing a successor.

There was the futile courting of David Hopkin, and then, after more waiting, a tweet from one Tom Slade suggesting his father Russell had landed the job, sparking further supporter anger. Carlisle denied Slade senior had ever been in the picture, before finally appointing John Sheridan.

Prior to that, there had been some heat regarding the appearance in the directors’ box of Lee Clark and Neil McDonald at a time Curle’s future was unclear.

The state of the ground also received a few kickings; leaking roofs, moss on the stands and disabled facilities coming in for supporter fire.

Bizarre controversy of the year, meanwhile, saw Jamie Devitt feel the need to explain to a handful of critics why he wasn’t wearing a poppy armband in November (his “twig arms”, rather than political protest, was the given reason).

Other individuals who brought off-field baggage from past clubs to United were Anthony Gerrard (“racist” joke accusations at Oldham) and Tommy Wright (facing bribery trial).


Many of these tended to be at the regrettable end. When making history, for instance, one normally hopes it is for something other than going five league games and eight hours without scoring a home league goal.

That, though, was Carlisle’s lot from late August to early November, before Devitt ended the waiting against Newport.

Otherwise, clubs lined up to sort their form out against United. Grimsby had lost six in a row, then won at Brunton Park.

Yeovil brought an eight-game winless stretch to a close here. Even more dismally, Macclesfield had gone 36 games and six years without a Football League win before United rocked up in October and duly lost 2-1. At least 2018 has ended with a better run: a second run of four straight wins of the year.

The Blues have, meanwhile, steadily become Crewe’s bogey team. Their last four meetings, including three 1-0s in 2018, have seen the Blues win without conceding. They meet again on February 2.


A couple of stalwarts reached significant marks. Clint Hill showed supporters some of the lingering reasons why he had been such a fine pro across many years as he passed appearance 650.

Luke Joyce also made his 450th outing before moving on. Of those still here, Gary Liddle took his tally past 550.

Off the pitch, summer brought up the 10-year anniversary of United’s “custodian” owners, leading some fans to question the club’s direction since they took charge after a League One play-off season.

Stand by, meanwhile, for 2019’s most eyecatching mark in time: the 20th anniversary of a certain goal by Sir Jimmy of Glass.


This is not a golden era of League Two football. Now and again, though, United came across an outstanding individual.

Some of them played for Lincoln, when the Imps killed off United’s play-off delusion in April. Some, too, for Luton, who won promotion at Brunton Park.

Others who enjoyed good days against the Blues included Wycombe’s Marcus Bean, who scored a last-minute winner, while Crawley’s Charlton loanee Karlan Grant was a two-goal danger.

Best opponent by a mile, though, was Blackburn’s Bradley Dack, who laid on a creative masterclass in the Carabao Cup in August.


Off the field, Paul Murray’s return as first-team coach completed the Cumbrian’s circle after two playing spells at Brunton Park.

Player-wise, another local man, Adam Collin, signed up for a second stint in goal, while two former Newcastle loanees, Macaulay Gillesphey and Adam Campbell, came back for seconds.

The churn of players these days makes other reunions inevitable; in 2018 United got the better of many of their old boys, such as Crewe’s Michael Raynes and Shaun Miller, Bury’s Nicky Adams, Port Vale’s Luke Joyce and Cambridge’s Jabo Ibehre.


Another interminable kit delay was an unwanted feature of 2018. By the time United’s Umbro strips were available to buy – including the “grape juice” away number - the season was nearly three weeks old.

Carlisle have since invited fans to give their views on designs for 2019/20 - and promised the journey from drawing board to hanger will be much quicker this time.

There was also a long and futile wait for Edinburgh Woollen Mill to say anything about their United links.

The year’s main saga, though, concerned the managerial chair, and was twofold: what would happen to Keith Curle, and who would take his place?

Both questions took too long to answer.


Most supporters were scratching their heads when John Sheridan filed his team sheet at Sincil Bank in October.

Where were the centre-halves? The answer, it turned out, lay inside the number 14 shirt. Richie Bennett switched from striker to defence for one night and, appropriately in a meeting of two of Dean Walling’s former clubs, revealed some previously unseen versatility.

The ex-Barrow man was the choice of many as man of the match.


The year brought some sad farewells from the United roster. Mike McCartney’s death in January brought warm tributes for one of the club’s greatest stalwarts.

Away from Brunton Park was Kevin Beattie, a lifelong fan who never played for the club, yet became arguably Carlisle’s greatest footballer with Ipswich and, too briefly, England. His death at 64 encouraged many to remember the brilliant Botcherby boy. Another city star, Harraby's Peter Thompson, passed over the weekend.

Tony Hopper, meanwhile, left more than just football memories when he died in October aged just 42.

The former midfielder’s battle with motor neurone disease touched the whole county, while his selfless decision to be a figurehead for his condition saw more than £46,000 raised for charity, along with plenty of awareness about a cruel illness.

He was, and will remain for ever more, one of our own.