Paul Simpson has revealed how he called on the help of fellow Cumbrian football star Steve McCall at Carlisle United.

The Blues manager said he asked Carlisle-born former Ipswich Town star McCall to scout tomorrow’s opponents Oldham Athletic.

McCall, 61, is based in the south east and went to watch the Latics for his home-city club at Colchester United last weekend.

Simpson said McCall – a fellow former Morton School boy – was more than happy to help.

The United manager told the story of how McCall had answered the call at a fans’ forum staged by the Carlisle United Supporters’ Groups at Brunton Park last night.

Simpson was responding to a question from a supporter who was reminiscing about the time legendary scout John Carruthers was watching Simpson at Morton, having already guided young Carlisle players such as Kevin Beattie, David Geddis, Robin Turner and McCall to Ipswich Town in the 1970s.

Simpson said: “Steve McCall is a guy I rung last week.

“I said, ‘Steve, are you still living in the Ipswich area?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, why?’

“I said, ‘What do you do?’

“He said, ‘I’m a painter and decorator’.

“I said, ‘Do you still go to games?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, I love going’.

“I said, ‘You couldn’t do me a favour and go and watch Oldham at Colchester, could you, on Saturday?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to’.

“I said, ‘I can’t pay you but I’ll get you a ticket and a car park pass…’

“He said, ‘I wouldn’t take your money anyway. I’m going, I’ll do it’.

“He went to the game and sent me a report.”

McCall has long had an affinity with his home-city club throughout his illustrious career.

After an eight-year spell at Ipswich, during which he helped them win the 1981 UEFA Cup, he moved on to Sheffield Wednesday – and in 1990 returned to Carlisle for a loan spell with Clive Middlemass’s Blues.

An England Under-21 and B international, he later joined Plymouth Argyle – and played in the famous game at Brunton Park on May 8, 1999 when Jimmy Glass saved Carlisle.

He has held a number of coaching and scouting roles in retirement.

The fans’ forum, meanwhile, saw Simpson reveal how he turned down the great Sir Bobby Robson at Ipswich during his time as a teenage player.

News and Star: Sir Bobby Robson tried to sign Paul Simpson during his time as Ipswich manager (photo: PA)Sir Bobby Robson tried to sign Paul Simpson during his time as Ipswich manager (photo: PA)

The young Simpson instead opted to sign for Manchester City.

“I was training here with Carlisle’s reserves on Tuesdays and Thursdays to keep fit, and was going on trial to different places," Simmo said.

“When you got to 14 you could sign schoolboy forms and Man City said it was time to make a decision – they wanted me to sign and play in the Lancashire League with their Under-18s.

“The decision was between Sunderland, Ipswich and Man City.

“Ipswich treated me like a king. Bobby Robson was the manager and I went down there as a 14-year-old, went into the changing room with all the kids and he said, ‘No, come in here son’, and made me change in the first-team changing room, which you didn’t do in our days…

“You’re talking about Eric Gates, Alan Brazil, Arnold Muhren, Frank Thijssen, Mick Mills, Terry Butcher, Kevin Beattie – a really good team.

“He [Robson] wanted me to sign, but I really felt I wanted to go to Man City. My dad said in that case, I would have to tell Bobby Robson about it…

“We didn’t have a phone at home so I had to go to my Uncle John’s house on Yewdale Road. I was speaking to Bobby Robson – he wasn’t ‘Sir’ then – and he said, ‘I really want you to come to Ipswich’.

“I said, ‘I know Mr Robson, but I’ve made my decision'.

“He asked what Man City were going to give me and I said it was a one-year apprenticeship and a one-year professional [contract].

“He said, ‘Right, I’m going to give you one-year apprentice and two-year professional – and £10,000 when you’re 17.

“I went, ‘Ok, that might be different Mr Robson! I’ll have to speak to my dad…’

“I told my dad I really wanted to go to Man City, but £10,000 was a lot of money and we could do with it.

“He said, ‘If you’re good enough, money will come to you. Do what you think’s right and have no regrets.

“Later I got into England’s Under-18s when Bobby Robson was manager of the senior team. I was in Lilleshall one time and at the vending machine, about to get some sneaky chocolate.

“I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Bobby Robson. He said, ‘I still think you made the wrong decision – you should have signed for me’.

“I bought myself a bottle of water and walked off!”

READ MORE: Paul Simpson fans' forum at Carlisle United - as it happened!