I’ve never actually hallucinated about Carlisle United, but they’ve featured in more than a few dreams: a goal here, a defeat there, an encounter with a player here, a lambasting from a manager there and, best/worst of all, actually playing for the Blues, inevitably missing a sitter in front of the Warwick Road End. That bobble in the six-yard box...

Freud would have a field day, no doubt, although it’s probably easier to interpret as the simple product of thinking about United all the time, from morning to the small hours, more than is healthy, more than it’s possible to escape from.

Following the Blues as a supporter, I’m sure, can warp the mind in this way. Reporting on them certainly does. Ever picked up a book, tried to leaf through a few pages, and found you’ve taken none of the words in because you’re still thinking about that Bristol Rovers goal, or who should play right-back next Saturday?

Congratulations. You’re in and there’s no way out. If you want a balanced life, then filling your working days with Carlisle United is not the way to get it. So it’s this, more than anything, that I wish Andy Hall now he has taken his toes off the treadmill.

United’s media officer, after more than two decades of association with the Brunton Park club, has left his position. This has brought, from players and supporters, expressions of gratitude and respect.

Although a behind-the-scenes role, the modern club media executive cannot operate in the shadows, and certainly not at Carlisle’s level. Many fans know Hall best from his voice: in YouTube interviews or press conferences, putting the first questions, gathering the official content.

Some have said they’ll miss that voice, that content. Yet it’s not in those environments where Andy gave the most to Carlisle United. It’s at the times and in the places people never see.

The absolutely ludicrous small hours, for one thing, when most sane folk are in the land of nod. The job of (until this season) editing United’s programme, coupled with manning its website and overseeing its social media is a range of tasks that can be tackled in different ways.

News and Star: Andy Hall stands on a flooded pitch at Brunton Park in 2015Andy Hall stands on a flooded pitch at Brunton Park in 2015 (Image: Paul Thanner)

Non-negotiably, though, it is a matter of work, long work, one that quite easily sets the trap of unhealthy hours if you let it. Andy, I hope he doesn’t mind me saying, let it, because it’s what he felt the job demanded and deserved. I know that feeling too, on certain weekends and midweek nights when you may as well be in another country to your family as your brain twitches at the sight of more transcription, more writing up, more photos to receive and upload, more endeavour to produce the best and most detailed work you can – yes, with help (Andy was ably assisted by Amy Nixon, just as I’m grateful for my News & Star colleagues) but with the persistent knowledge the buck rests with you.

Now, let’s not pretend this is lifesaving, life-imperilling or even meaningful work when it comes down to it. In his previous employment Andy Hall fought for his country and was awarded an MBE for his work in its defence. Typing up post-match manager comments or creating a new goal gif doesn’t quite match up.

Yet that still doesn’t mean the brain gets an easy ride, or that it doesn’t often shove to the side things in life that are, really, more important. Football readily takes over, and normally you’re glad and indeed privileged that it can – no violins need be unpacked here – yet the passion for it still has to be handled delicately.

Then there is the business of interacting across both sides of the media fence. If they are doing their jobs correctly, press officers and reporters will never sail through life in constant and regular harmony, never a cross word, always seeing the world the same.

In the defence of clubs, and in the holding of them to account, there ought to be episodes of friction. So there have been. There have no doubt been numerous times when Andy has wished we’d acted differently, no doubt that feeling has been mutual on other occasions and if that sounds abrupt, it is in fact the way it should be.

News and Star: Andy Hall pictured with club staff and students at a presentation on Project Blue Yonder in 2012Andy Hall pictured with club staff and students at a presentation on Project Blue Yonder in 2012 (Image: Jonathan Becker)

If those times leave lingering ill-feeling, only then do you have a problem. I can’t speak for others but I’ll shake Andy’s hand any day.

The change in his department now at Brunton Park comes on the cusp of bigger transformation, with the Piataks poised to introduce a new era, and perhaps new ways of working, to United. Before then it should be noted and recorded how Andy did his utmost to promote the club and, to a meaningful extent, a regime that has not always helped itself.

I can think of periods, over the last couple of decades, where nothing at all would have come out of the club if it wasn’t for the man. Thankfully the doors are more open now through the approach of Nigel Clibbens, the chief executive, but Carlisle’s long-standing ownership has been a gradually closing book. Sometimes Andy was the only one keeping the odd page ajar.

There have been spells, being completely frank, when a reticent regime did not deserve his toil. He might not see it that way but this has not, for a long time, been an ownership particularly geared for the modern media age. Keeping the wolf from the door, in terms of public output and perception, must have been murder at times.

That demand will have been addressed, I’m sure, with the same inclination and the same obsession for reinforcing Carlisle United as those thousands of lost nights were, as those early mornings were, as were those many times of sweat and stress in front of a laptop screen.

Whatever has brought about the decision to go now, I hope the Blues realise how much he did, above all how much of himself and his mind he gave. I hope the club’s new American leaders, whatever bright schemes they might bring, value people who are good and local and loyal. I also hope whatever’s next for Andy is just a little less exacting – and that the first pint, after leaving, slid down like honey.