It isn’t always like this. The list of Cumbria-born Carlisle United managers in the post-war era has one name. Workington Reds haven’t always been managed by a committed Cumbrian who’s played and captained at such levels.

Annan Athletic’s history has not all the time been blessed by a boss with their current one’s gravitas and connections. Other clubs down the chain, stepping through the vagaries of non-league life, haven’t known their present or recent success all the time.

So, in this ripe era for football in Cumbria and the near region, let’s ring the bell for good times. Let’s acknowledge that our leading clubs are led by the best people, the right people – and let’s also promote something else.

The fact it’s happening at the same moment. The fact that there are bonds here that ought always to be interlocking – and, right now, clearly are.

None of this is to dismiss the acumen of many who’ve gone before. Carlisle United’s managerial history does not begin and end with Paul Simpson and Workington’s does not with Danny Grainger.

Good men preceded Peter Murphy at Annan Athletic, there were excellent folk at Carlisle City pre-Jim Nichols, likewise Penrith before Darren Edmondson.

Each proud club is a product of its past, each story lit by successes and deepened by struggles. Do you not think, though, that this is a period when we can say they’ve all of them got things spot-on, and the county game – its profile, standing and indeed togetherness – is benefiting?

Perhaps there are individual lessons here when a club looks for the way forward in future. At United, a Simpson won’t always be available but they can still observe the principles of what this transformative manager has brought home.

They have a man from the city who is invested in their progress, is plainly not passing through, has a fundamental desire for structural improvement as well as short-term success, wishes to make it his life’s work to raise Carlisle United’s sights and standards, and has the CV to inspire as much faith as these great ambitions could ever need.

Is it not possible, years down the line, that they could seek out another manager who wears at least some of these clothes? Someone who has Carlisle United and its fate deep in their heart?

Check their managerial history and, truthfully, how many bosses, successful or otherwise, fit that precise description? Does this bright era at United not, then, reinforce the value of a little calculated localism – the merits of ingrained passion, as well as professional skill?

News and Star: Reds and Blues are currently in very good handsReds and Blues are currently in very good hands

Appropriately, Carlisle take on Workington today: a meeting of mutual recent benefits (see Kai Nugent’s loan last season) and a place where the quality of Grainger is now fully embedded, through a first promotion in a generation (one that would have come even sooner without Covid) and an imposition of values that have come from a characterful and strong career in the game – and, crucially, a care for and knowledge of this area, its merits, folks and quirks.

Grainger ticks so many boxes for the Reds. Their results, and the drive behind them, tell us that. The same can be said across the border, where Murphy has led Annan to their greatest of times.

Scotland’s third tier now prepares to embrace the Galabank club. It is no coincidence that Murphy’s meticulous management, a follow-on from his approach to playing the game, has brought this about.

Watching Annan take on Carlisle even in a friendly last week was a window onto how Murphy has grown a team, a style. Their progress is a tribute to his longevity, the faith of the club and the detailed reasons why respect, in the game, is so emphatically earned by people like him.

In a few paragraphs we have listed three clubs who were promoted within weeks of each other, and who have shared along the way. Go back 12 months and the area’s success story was Carlisle City: promoted to Northern League Division One for the first time in 2022, led by an established Cumbrian football man in Nichols, someone who has recruited, coached, moulded and helped a side capable of thinking bigger than before.

The historic formative years at City has, decades on, been freshened by a readiness to aim higher, a belief that limits are there to be bashed through.

News and Star: Carlisle City were led to promotion last year by Jim Nichols, second rightCarlisle City were led to promotion last year by Jim Nichols, second right (Image: Ben Holmes)

There is potential elsewhere. Penrith, who share a division with City, have tried various managerial regimes in a hard footballing level – some that have lasted well, others that have not – but are now guided by a person in Edmondson who has achieved promotions up non-league’s ladder, managed Football League academies, played in Carlisle United’s best era for local talent and also, crucially, has professional and personal commitment to the area.

As Penrith step into a new phase, with a new artificial pitch, they do so after another tough season but one which delivered a welcome uplift towards the end. If there are possibilities at a club run by many great and deeply dedicated people, Edmondson is surely of the calibre to show them the way.

Again – this isn’t always the hallmark of our clubs. At times it simply can’t be. But it is no fluke that good things have aligned through good decisions and tapping into the fact that people from here, who care about here, are not just good enough and proven enough but in some respects – some particular domains – unsurpassable.

Boom years, as any historian knows, don’t go on and on. At all the above clubs and more there will be checks and balances, bumps and potholes. Look at each one, though, and ask who else you’d trust to negotiate those, as well as guide and sustain you through the medium and better spells?

What we have here, then, is not just a matter for celebration, something rare and special, a flag to be flown high, but also a light shone far down the road.