By Malcolm Nugent - CUOSC.

The close season kicked off this week with a ‘mad Monday’ as Blues fans were given plenty of hot topics to talk about.

The club’s retained list always stirs up interest and with goalkeeper Mark Howard a surprise inclusion among the eight players released there was much to debate.

The night before he had scooped five Player-of-the-Season awards – including CUOSC’s – at the club’s awards ceremony at the Halston Hotel.

Howard admitted afterwards he had no idea where he would be next season, so perhaps, he already had an inkling it wouldn’t be at Brunton Park.

However, he leaves with the best wishes of all supporters and with the accolade of his team-mates, who also voted him player of the season.

News and Star: Mark Howard receives the CUOSC player of the season award from Frank Beattie (photo: Barbara Abbott)Mark Howard receives the CUOSC player of the season award from Frank Beattie (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Howard said: “I have had a great connection with the fanbase. But to also win an award voted on by your peers means so much. I’m very humbled.”

Then just as fans were beginning to digest the retained list came the shock news that former boss Greg Abbott had returned to Brunton Park as head of recruitment.

Manager Paul Simpson said he was delighted to get someone “who knows what it’s like to be part of Carlisle United.”

He is looking to Abbott’s extensive knowledge of lower league football to help him bolster his squad with at least six new players.

Let’s hope we have found the winning formula we have been looking for. Simpson was the last man to win promotion with the Blues in 2006 while Abbott was the last man to bring silverware to Brunton Park in 2011 when we won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

News and Star: Greg Abbott (photo: Jonathan Becker)Greg Abbott (photo: Jonathan Becker)

Simpson believes the Blues are at the start of a good journey and wants the fans and businesses to get behind the team. A few sceptics have said they have heard it all before. They may have done – but not from Simpson. And after his success in keeping the Blues in the League he deserves nothing less.

Another bit of good news that almost crept under the radar on Monday was that goalkeeping coach Paul Gerrard has agreed to extend his stay meaning that Simpson’s backroom team is now in place and already thinking about the new campaign.

CUOSC are holding a Members meeting tonight in Foxy’s restaurant at Brunton Park, starting at 7pm. This is your chance to ask questions and discuss issues that matter.

If you are unable to attend you can connect remotely via Zoom. To do so email

READ MORE: Paul Simpson: 'I want to build Carlisle United for as long as I possibly can'