It was a rallying call which helped keep momentum behind Carlisle United as they surged to promotion.

And now they are preparing for life back in League One, the message is just as important – and can be shouted from the rooftops again.

So the News & Star is once again saying: Back The Blues.

We are relaunching the campaign which threw our voice behind Paul Simpson and United as they tried to get over the line in their memorable 2022/23 campaign.

Last spring we wanted to play our part in sending out a message which urged everyone in the area to buy into the best manager and the best team Carlisle have had for years.

They are now going to need every bit of that backing and more as they look to make the step up in League One for their first season at this level for a decade.

The fact they are there at all is down to Simpson’s accomplished and inspirational management, and a team that defied the doubters to go all the way – culminating in that unforgettable day at Wembley.

This season the challenge is different, but also the same.

Different because United are unaccustomed to this division in their recent guise.

Different because the size of some of their rival clubs is on another level compared with what they faced down in League Two.

News and Star: Our new rallying cry ahead of the new seasonOur new rallying cry ahead of the new season (Image: News & Star)

Different because they are there, let’s be honest, ahead of expectations, and are therefore set the challenge of shaping a competitive squad for the third tier in double-quick time.

But also the same, because, just as they were 12 months ago, United are being written off by many so-called experts.

The bookmakers don’t like the look of their chances. One leading football publication has tipped them for relegation in bottom position.

Well, we can either resign ourselves to that...or we can do something different.

We can do what should be as natural as breathing at Brunton Park these days, and believe in Paul Simpson.

We can have faith in a club, and a wider operation that has backed him, to take on this task with a little more hope than outsiders are offering.

We can trust in the momentum they have generated, the skill that generated it in the first place, and the judgement shown at crucial points, to flourish once again.

We can think of Carlisle as a team and club, these days, that can see challenging times – and there will no doubt be many in 2023/24 – not as insurmountable barriers but as hurdles they can, in the fullness of time, fly over.

We can also recognise that this is the same United that, last season, carried with it a stunning revival in colour and life on the terraces.

Attendances were at their highest for many years. Young fans on the Warwick Road End restored something that had long been missing in terms of vibrancy, colour, life.

Why should that not continue to take positive effect all around?

Carlisle have also scored well, in the recent past, for fan engagement and transparency. Whatever the higher issues, such as the Purepay debt, these are matters for celebration.

They say the Blues are doing more right these days than they have for some time.

And then there are the kits. Particularly the away kit. Good lord, that away kit.

Those minded to remain foursquare behind Simmo and Carlisle will continue to do so in their full-throated and dedicated way. Brunton Park and 23 rival League One grounds will, as ever, be better and livelier for their presence.

For those undecided, those who are in two minds about whether this is an era and opportunity worth supporting, the message is simple: if this isn’t, what is?

None of this means uncritical support. It doesn’t mean the bad can't be challenged as well as the good is promoted.

But a principle stays aloft in either scenario. It is that United are stronger united – and so, on the eve of a season we didn’t think possible just a few months back, we say this.

It’s time to Back The Blues in League One, and see where this ride goes next.