Right. Time to cheer ourselves up – and, in the process, remind ourselves that what’s happening this season isn’t permanent. Sooner or later, Carlisle United will be rocking again.

Here are 18 categories to jog the memory to times when the Blues kicked butt...and maybe a few reasons why they'll rise once more.

1 – 1974

No other place to start. Promotion to the top flight, against odds and expectations, and then, three games into 1974/75, the glorious sight of Carlisle United top of the entire league, the best team in the whole country. Fifty years ago now, nearly, but the magic never fades.

2 – Titles

Just three of them, but each magnificent. 1965: a consecutive promotion, clinched with a surging last-day win. 1995: Micky Wadsworth’s dominant deckchair army. 2006: Simmo, Gray, Bridges, Hawley and the rest. Teams that defined our lives.

3 – Wembley

Five visits, most of them resounding. The first, in ’95, an iconic occasion. The second in ’97 a first-ever win. 2010 we’ll gloss over, but 2011 we won’t (thanks, Murph). As for 2023…not bad, eh, as a lad from Maryport might say.

4 – Managers

How many other clubs have found dugout greatness in a chicken farmer? Okay, Alan Ashman had been a fine footballer too. But as a manager, he did unsurpassable things for the Blues. Other icons of the touchline: Broadis (still the league's youngest-ever), Shankly, Stokoe, Wadsworth, Day and, yes, very much yes, Simpson.

News and Star: Les O'Neill, Alan Ashman and John Gorman celebrate Carlisle's promotion in 1974Les O'Neill, Alan Ashman and John Gorman celebrate Carlisle's promotion in 1974 (Image: News & Star)

5 – Cup wins

From different generations, knockout games to savour. Little Tommy Murray sinking the giants of Newcastle in 1968. Dennis Martin dumping out the holders of Sunderland in 1974. Topping top-flight QPR in 1986. Bridging two divisions to beat Tranmere in 1997. Winning their way to the League Cup semis in 1970. Iconic days.

6 – Home-grown heroes

Local lads, wearing the blue shirt, making stars of themselves? We’ve got that covered. Whether it be Jansen, Delap and the 90s generation, whether it be older Carlisle lads like McVitie or the present generation led magnificently by England’s Branthwaite, the Blues have propelled some outstanding boys who’ve made us all proud.

7 – Miracles

Okay, the 1998/99 season wasn’t one to celebrate. Nor was most of game 46. Injury-time, though…and which other club, seriously, would you expect to do something so joyously insane as avoid relegation thanks to an on-loan goalkeeper’s goal?

8 – Heroes

Every era has them, from McConnell to Whitehouse to Hogan to Thompson to McIlmoyle to McConnell to Ross to Balderstone to McVitie to Hatton to Bowles to all the boys of ’74 to Parker to Rafferty to Beardsley to Robson to Poskett to Halpin to Proudlock to Deano to Reeves to Hayward to Pounewatchy to Stevens to Murphy to Hawley to Westwood to Bridges to Garner to Miller to Zoko to Ibehre to Adams to Grainger to Mellish to Moxon…and many more. So many more. And more to come.

News and Star: George McVitie, Hugh McIlmoyle and Billy Rafferty: three heroes among the manyGeorge McVitie, Hugh McIlmoyle and Billy Rafferty: three heroes among the many (Image: News & Star)

9 – Cult heroes

As one example among many, I give you Stephane Zeusnagapa Pounewatchy: a French defender as wide as the Eden, as stately as the king, with an aura the size of Cumbria and lots of other magnificence that the only way to understand it is by being Stephane himself.

10 – Kits

From the 70s toothpaste to the 80s pinstripes to the 90s deckchair to many smart designs thereafter and, of course, the drunken party in a pain factory that resulted in 2023/24’s record-breaking fruit salad…United have always know how to dress, even if outsiders couldn’t always bring themselves to agree.

11 – Recoveries

At times over the years, Carlisle has been tested, swamped, flooded. Each occasion they’ve bounced back with remarkable spirit. The way United and their community handled Storm Desmond and its ravages in 2015, for instance, was inspirational. This is a club with some iron in its soul.

12 – Goals

Moments that made your heart shoot from your chest. Split-seconds when you nearly snogged the old person next to you on the Paddock or in an away ground. McIlmoyle v Gateshead, Joyce v Huddersfield, Dobie v Chester, Patrick at Wembley…take your pick from a long, goosebump-inducing list.

News and Star: Omari Patrick celebrates at Wembley...and thousands of Cumbrians go nutsOmari Patrick celebrates at Wembley...and thousands of Cumbrians go nuts (Image: Richard Parkes)

13 – Italian Job

Rome, 1972. Defeating AS Roma in the Stadio Olimpico, for heaven’s sake, with Tot Winstanley bagging the winner and Stan Bowles juggling the ball on the halfway line. Does it get much better, more in-your-face-we’re not-bad-at-all-eh, than that?

14 – Underdogs

Even when United haven’t quite pulled off the results, what about the times they’ve come so close to upsetting giants? From Arsenal in 1951 to Liverpool in 2015, the Blues have travelled, turned up, played out of their skins and given us days and nights that nestle in history.

15 – Brunton Park

There’s the Paddock: England’s longest terrace, home of wit, realism, grumpiness and the pessimistic soul of United. There’s the Warwick: Carlisle’s three-triangled Kop, given new energy by young fans. The East Stand: still stupidly but appropriately out of line with everything else. The Main Stand, with its seats from another age, and some of the most devoted fans around. Home.

16 – On the road

Not much stirs the senses like an away end packed with sweaty Cumbrian humanity. Each memorable season has its examples. Even this rotten campaign has plenty. And it’s not just the away days of many thousands: smaller stands, such as at Hartlepool, have still not contained the Blue Army’s energy.

17 – Derbies

Okay, we don’t get too many of those. But when we do, and even if you have to put inverted commas around the d-word, they tend to be…okay. Proper Cumbrian set-tos against Workington Reds dot United's older history. As for Barrow at home last season...to quote Paul Gascoigne: “WASN’T BAD, WAS IT?”

18 – The future

Leap of faith territory to close with. After all these years, Carlisle have owners with the wherewithal and intentions to modernise and propel the Blues into brighter times: new training facilities, souped-up stands, serious investment in the team and ambition we can believe in. The moment things on the pitch turn again, the rumble of momentum behind the Piataks’ United could be powerful for all time.

News and Star: The PiataksThe Piataks (Image: Ben Holmes)