Services to football. A fairly wide-ranging phrase, open to interpretation. Ensure the flooding of the game with billions of pounds, for instance, or survive within its political corridors for long enough, and Her Majesty will see you now.

Grace the actual sport with levels of achievement and dignity that genuinely give football its best name? Sorry, sir, can’t promise anything. Rules, you see.

Now, there may be a hundred weightier problems with British life right now than the honours system. The method of allocating MBEs and so forth has long been an easy target.

That doesn’t mean we should stop aiming at it, though, as many have this week because of the persistent scandal of Jimmy Greaves having never received such appreciation. “A little recognition on the honours list is long, long overdue,” said Gary Lineker of arguably England’s best striker.

And of course it is. Greaves, a frail figure today after the effects of a heavy stroke in 2015, lifted spirits, inspired, achieved. One hopes those advocating his candidacy are not impeded by the sort of stuffy procedure which is also being encountered by people pushing the case for a worthy individual in Carlisle.

Ivor Broadis, 96, is a rarity in how heavily he contributed to different aspects of local, national and community life. He is England’s oldest surviving international player, a superb inside-forward of 14 caps, “truly one of the greats of the English game”, in the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, the first man to score twice for the country in a World Cup game, and still the youngest person to manage a Football League club (Carlisle United, aged 23).

During World War Two, he completed 500 flying hours on RAF Wellingtons and Lancasters, bringing British troops back to these shores after conflict ended.

Later Broadis set the gold standard for sports reporting in our northern region. One of the treats of this job is to find an excuse to venture into the archives of Cumbrian Newspapers and alight on some of Ivor’s witty, pointed football prose.

That is three distinguished aspects while, deep into his nineties, Broadis’ good conscience remains. It was demonstrated when a number of national journalists sought his memories ahead of last year’s World Cup. Broadis agreed, on condition they donated to Tony Hopper’s motor neurone disease charity.

There have been other such gestures in a life deemed “remarkable” and “eminent” by city councillors last October, when Broadis was granted the Freedom of Carlisle. Such status was overdue but correct. A national badge of honour would surely not be a mark too far for such a man?

It is, sadly, not as simple as that, considering the complexity faced by a United fan trying to push Broadis’ case at present. The supporter, named Stan, has been diligently amassing letters of support – the News & Star was proud to supply one – yet has been reminded by officialdom of the system’s limitations.

Any potential candidate, it is said, “must still be actively involved in what you are nominating them for”. On this basis there are unexpected challenges in making the argument for Ivor who, approaching 97, is clearly not as “active” in his old professions as he used to be.

It seems an unnecessary means of consolidating oversight when a little leeway would surely sit more comfortably. It is hoped that Ivor’s agreement last year to become vice-president of United’s London Branch supporters’ club could be put forward as evidence of continued “active” service.

Ideally, too, the fact certain others were ennobled after their prime might serve as examples to the honours committee. In 2017, for instance, Eric Harrison, the great, late Manchester United youth coach, received an MBE. He was 79 at the time and suffering from dementia.

His lack of contemporary “activity” appears to have been rightly sidestepped, as it should be with other legends who are overlooked in a way that others who give to but also take from the game are not.

There was no difficulty, after all, in ensuring that Richard Scudamore be awarded a CBE in the most recent New Year Honours. His “services to football” included 20 years at the head of the Premier League; an era of deal-making brilliance that warranted, in clubs’ top corridors, a leaving whipround of £250,000 a head.

Scudamore, to give him his due, served the game in other ways. The Football Foundation, and other charitable and social inclusion projects, saw his involvement, as did local football in earlier years.

It still seems telling, though, that a trick is seldom missed when it comes to pinning a badge on such an official, or a politician who is rewarded for loyalty or convenience – yet humbler individuals are sometimes missed.

How on earth, you have to ask, has the gongs system eluded Jimmy Greaves yet Geoff Thompson, England’s unremarkable ex-Fifa man, carries letters? Why the technocrats, the suited survivors, and not some of those who brought genuine standing to the national game, long before it could enrich and be enriched by a Richard Scudamore?

The unheralded, the silent heroes in all areas of life, not just football, should always be first in line. It should be less of a celebrity game than it sometimes appears, too. Yet it should also permit the bigger picture of someone’s lifelong work and reputation to surpass rules that benefit some more than others.

It should, above all, allow us to venerate a great old man like Ivor Broadis while we are fortunate enough to have him.


It was hardly a surprise to seasoned Blues-watchers when the last game at Brunton Park saw Jabo Ibehre find the net despite having failed to score in every other away league appearance for Cambridge this season.

Ibehre is by no means the first former Carlisle player to find some joy against his old employer and with this in mind it would probably help if United could keep Nicky Adams as far away from their box as possible today.

Adams is a much better creator than scorer, with three goals from 47 appearances for Bury this season but, as ever, strong assists figures.

Would anyone, though, be flabbergasted if the winger just happened to discover some previously hidden poaching skills at the sight of the Warwick Road or Waterworks End nets?

The suspicion United are regularly haunted by old faces is not just urban myth, when you consider that in the space of 10 seasons (this one included) some 22 goals have been scored against Carlisle by their former players.

The 2012/13 season was particularly ripe for this, United conceding six times to past favourites. This campaign Ibehre and Shaun Miller have inflicted a little damage, and the trait is so common that it would not entirely amaze you if Lee Dykes left his seat as Bury’s sporting director to nod in the winner this afternoon.

It may be a curiosity and little more, but fate has a funny way of showing its head at times in football and considering Carlisle have tried just about everything else on this run of one win in 10, might today be simply a case of getting the ball to their former Shakers, Hallam Hope, Kelvin Etuhu, even the goal-shy Mike Jones, and hoping that, for once, it works the other way too?