It was one of the most extraordinary moments in football history. A goalkeeper had just scored in injury time to keep a club in the league. The stadium had lost itself to ecstatic disbelief.

And there, in the stand, were two men sat together, as miserable as sin.

“They were programme collectors,” says Tim Pocock, remembering the strange sight after Jimmy Glass’s Carlisle United miracle in 1999. “They were there to get Carlisle’s last programme as a Football League club.”

The po-faced gentlemen with their carrier bags were denied their treasure by Glass’s goal. Tim was “jumping and dancing about” like most other Blues fans, but has never forgotten the vision of the glum duo amid the bedlam and the bewilderment.

News and Star: Jimmy Glass's goal was a moment of ecstasy for (nearly) everyone in Brunton Park...Jimmy Glass's goal was a moment of ecstasy for (nearly) everyone in Brunton Park...

“You know when traumatic or extreme things happen, and you can remember little details from them?” he says. “That has always stayed with me. It was very bizarre. And I suppose it sums up a lot of what we experience following our team.

“If you’re not a football fan, you can’t feel what we feel. It’s the difference between watching and experiencing it.”

Tim has been feeling and experiencing it for decades with Carlisle United. He will be known to many Blues as a regular, home and away, often with son Sam. His name will also resound with those who bought the 1990s fanzine ‘So Jack Ashurst, Where’s My Shirt’, which he launched and edited.

His supporting life, since the late 1970s, is now captured in a memoir entitled ‘Jack’s Shirt, Deano’s Bottoms’. It is a journey not just through Carlisle United events but how it felt to experience and share them.

To a strong extent – something which feels more profound, somehow, on the first day of a new season – it is about a father and a son. Tim and Sam have suffered the Blues together for many years, and not always with the need for words.

News and Star: Tim Pocock, right, with son Sam at United's game at Mansfield last season (photo: Richard Parkes)Tim Pocock, right, with son Sam at United's game at Mansfield last season (photo: Richard Parkes)

“I suppose, as fathers and sons, you don’t always sit down and have really meaningful conversations about life and feelings,” Tim says. “I’ve probably had those conversations with Diane [my wife] more than anybody. I feel a bit uncomfortable with my own dad or Sam…maybe slightly awkward asking how he’s really feeling.

“But when we’re at football together, you know how he’s feeling. In those fantastic moments, you literally hug each other: a big, massive hug because you’re so happy.

“When we’ve lost to a last-minute goal – the Jonny Howson one [against Leeds in 2008], the Shrewsbury agony [a last-minute collapse in 2015] – and you’re leaving the ground together, you can’t say anything to each other but you still know exactly how that person’s feeling. They’re suffering as much as you. It’s really special, I think.”

It is telling, with the above in mind, that some of Tim’s recollections in the book are painted through the reactions of others; principally Sam. When, for instance, Steve Hayward steps up at Wembley in 1997 to take the decisive penalty in the Auto-Windscreens Shield final, it is the one time Tim does not watch the crucial moment.

News and Star: United's win at Wembley in 1997United's win at Wembley in 1997

“At that moment,” he says, “ I thought, ‘Come on Tim, focus on what really matters in this life’. I can still replay it in my mind exactly – that moment when, before the crescendo of noise hit, I could see Sam’s eyes light up.

"That moment, I knew it had gone in. I’ve got goosebumps now talking about it.”

Tim, who lives in Ripon, first watched United in 1977 at a time his parents had moved to Carlisle. His interest in the Blues flourished in the early 1980s, when Bob Stokoe was leading the team into the Second Division and subsequently to its heights.

It was a time of gritty aspiration at Brunton Park, and their promotion of 1981/2 birthed a legend. Tim was at Chester as Carlisle secured the victory that took them up and, amid the hubbub, wrapped his scarf around defender Ashurst’s neck.

News and Star: Tim dedicated his fanzine title to an unrequited wish for the shirt worn by Jack Ashurst, left, on the day United got promoted in 1982, rightTim dedicated his fanzine title to an unrequited wish for the shirt worn by Jack Ashurst, left, on the day United got promoted in 1982, right

“I wrote to him a few days after, telling him he could keep the scarf, and hoping he would read between the lines and send me his shirt,” Tim says.

This craving went unrequited, hence the fanzine title.

Many years later, Tim – a former journalist turned teacher – was limbering up for a staff football game at Harrogate Railway FC. A conspiracy among colleagues had conjured a surprise. Through the changing room door, as boots were being laced up, walked a certain Jack Ashurst.

“The lads had fixed it for me to play with Jack Ashurst!" Tim says. "I did such a double-take.

"He was a really nice guy and came for a drink afterwards too. I talked at him for an hour – ‘tell me this, tell me more...'

“I always sent him a copy of the fanzine and we sent Christmas cards to each other for a while. He said, ‘I’ve got the shirt at home if you want it’. But I thought, ‘It’s yours. You won promotion. I can’t take it’.

“It’s my one regret. Who knows where that shirt is now, probably in a skip somewhere. That said, if I had got the shirt, the fanzine title would have been redundant.”

News and Star: Tim got to know Dean Walling, right, during his time at United in the 1990s (photo: Barbara Abbott)Tim got to know Dean Walling, right, during his time at United in the 1990s (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Tim, through his dedicated following of the Blues, befriended a number of other players. Nineties defensive icon Dean Walling was a particular favourite. Tim and Sam bumped into him on the way back from a game at Scarborough. They shared a train journey, and ‘Deano’ offered his tracksuit top as a souvenir.

Even now, Tim talks with a boyish excitement about getting to know the men who wear the blue shirt. “When I meet a Carlisle player, I can’t think what to say. I don’t see them as normal people. It’s stupid, really.

“In those days, you approached players for autographs and hardly anybody turned one down. Apart from Clive Allen – we must have caught him on a bad day. But he was the only one.

“When we were at Wembley [for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final in 2011] we saw Deano and he waved. Being recognised by Deano on the steps at Wembley! That was so cool. ‘Look, I’m Deano’s mate’.”

Not all players have met with such favour. Tim is 63 but freely recounts in his book various tales of things going badly on the pitch and him levelling frustrated, vocal abuse at under-performers.

It is an example of football keeping you young, or – in those fervid moments – less than wholly mature. Mark Gillespie, he says, caught some serious flak at Mansfield a few years ago. Matthew Pitts, the right-back from longer ago, was another such target. “He sliced the ball into touch, just below me in the East Stand, and they couldn’t find the ball. I just let rip," Tim says.

News and Star: Tim recalls "letting rip" at Matthew Pitts in one anecdote from his bookTim recalls "letting rip" at Matthew Pitts in one anecdote from his book

“Two ladies behind me were saying, ‘You shouldn’t be giving out so much stick’. I said, ‘What do you mean?! I’ve driven two hours from Harrogate to watch this and look what he’s done?!’ I felt so bad afterwards.

“It’s just how the game gets into you. I still feel so excited about going to a Carlisle game. I’m as happy as a pig in poo at 2.55pm. That feeling is the same now as it was 40 years ago.”

Tim, early in his supporting life, wrote match reports and kept these, along with cuttings and other match memorabilia, as a personal ledger. He leaned on them when, in the first Covid lockdown, he set about writing his book.

Another valuable resource was the fanzine which, at its height, sold 400 copies per issue. “The best thing about doing the fanzine for me was meeting some Carlisle fans who are still really good mates now,” he says.

“Fanzines were a home for people like Paul Newton, who went to work for the club and then BBC Radio Cumbria, and Roger Lytollis who joined the News & Star. It was a different time, in the sense of looking at the game in new ways.

News and Star: Tim's fanzine was a big seller among Blues fans in the 1990sTim's fanzine was a big seller among Blues fans in the 1990s

“Back then, there weren’t all the channels and shows we have now. Danny Baker’s 6-0-6 [on BBC Radio Five] was visionary, so different and fresh. Even though there aren’t as many fanzines now, there is that legacy. Now it’s messageboards that have that outlet for frustrations, feelings and comments. With a fanzine, you might write a letter and it would take months for it to appear. Now it’s instant.”

You can smell the fanzine culture, and supporter wit, in some of the acerbic lines that dot Tim’s book. As such, a Zigor Aranalde winner at Cheltenham is (with a dash of political incorrectness), a "mother-in-law" of a goal – "you know it’s coming but can’t stop it”.

“If Joe Garner were a plant, it would be a nettle,” is a sentence that sums up that striker more neatly than a thousand long articles. Paul Conway as the “working-class Glenn Hoddle” will evoke smiles in those who remember the laconic American midfielder in the nineties.

“I would like to claim those lines as 100 per cent mine,” Tim says. “But they were things I’d heard around me at the time and written down.”

Whatever the source, they give a richness to his United memoir, which charts the turbulent 1990s under Michael Knighton, the decline and revival thereafter, the Simmo and Story years, the Abbott, Kavanagh and Curle dramas, Anfield in 2015, Leeds, Wembley…

And Jimmy Glass. Tim devotes the finale of the book to May 8, 1999, numbering the chapter 94 in honour of the sacred minute. It is a classic piece of United writing, capturing the tension and the torment, the moment that left fans “numb with delight”; paragraph after paragraph that those who were there, and those who weren’t, will drink from the page.

News and Star: Tim has just released his Carlisle United memoirTim has just released his Carlisle United memoir

As will anyone who knows, no matter how old, young, cynical or naïve, how it feels when something happens on that oblong of Cumbrian turf and, well, certain forces just grip you.

“There is this image of older Carlisle fans being miserable gits in the Paddock moaning about everything,” says Tim. “But I don’t know if that’s true. Last season when we played Scunthorpe, we were 2-1 down and I was making a quick getaway to the car via the Paddock exit.

“Then we scored a last-minute goal at the Warwick Road End, and I found myself jumping into the arms of this total stranger and his lad who were doing the same.

“If you go to a concert, everyone knows they’ll have a good time. They’ll know the songs. Whereas we didn’t know Darren Edmondson was going to get a late equaliser at Sunderland, or Derek Asamoah was going to score at Liverpool.”

Early in the book Tim toys with the fantasy of not supporting United at all, instead devoting his time to the less stressful pleasures of gardening or DIY.

“Sometimes, when you’re suffering the agony, part of you thinks, ‘What would it be like if I wasn’t a fan? If I had a really easy, comfortable life, where everything I was interested in was based on whether my plants would flower or potatoes grow...?’”

“But Carlisle take you out of the comfort zone time and time again. They take you to the edge and back. Where else do you get that?”

* 'Jack’s Shirt, Deano’s Bottoms' is published by Grosvenor House Publishing Limited. It is available to buy in the Blues Store and at online book outlets such as Amazon. Price £10.99.