It is a good thing the nativity story did not take place in the north of England on a Saturday night. The three wise men would have been diverted from Scotch Corner and found the stable empty by the time they arrived.

In December, they are particularly long and dark nights on the road for those devoted to Carlisle United, following yonder star to Gillingham, Newport and other far-off points. As ever, though, the loyalty endures.

A turnout of 321 at chilly Priestfield was a fine effort, worthy of the applause it received from the home supporters, the praise offered by Gillingham's official Twitter account, and the compliments paid by Keith Curle. Many of those same folk will have risen early this morning for another weekend of pitch-black travel, road closures and tired contemplation of what the Blues might do, and what they have done, in south Wales.

Door to door, Brunton Park to Rodney Parade is 281.9 miles, so by no means the furthest trip of 2017/18. By the time the coach doors open in Carlisle late tonight, though, some will have put in 1,228.2 miles in the space of eight days.

What is it that drags those bodies out of bed and onto those buses? Faith. It is, and always will be, the most important thing a football club can have and of course it comes in many other forms.

It does not quite so often come in the shape of people digging deep to put the team up in a hotel for an extra night, but that is what occurred last week, so that Curle and his squad could prepare thoroughly for their cup tie in Kent.

There was, we are told, a conversation between Curle and Colin Carter, United's matchday announcer, and within 48 hours the first of two evenings away had been funded.

Those who contributed to that pot helped ensure legs and minds were not as jaded as they might have been after a Friday slog. They could take satisfaction that this helped the Blues remain in the competition, setting up next Tuesday's replay and then a potential third round tie against Sheffield Wednesday.

The people who chipped in were described by Carter as long-standing fans with strong links to the club. It was a wholly positive gesture, fuelled by goodwill, and one hopes it is appreciated in the fullest way by all concerned.

It was given, we can confidently say, without the promise of anything in return. This is the definition of support. It was not, as far as we know, loaned with the condition of equity in exchange. It was not money secured against club assets, or a downpayment on perks.

It was not raised, or given, by those employed to oversee increased revenue at Brunton Park. It was not a "facility" made available by a rich organisation.

It was United's manager turning to someone he felt could get something done, and seeing that approach pay off, because there is, even in these mid-table times, when Carlisle's period of challenging boldly for the Championship back in 2008 seems as distant as ever, a community that backs the Blues, that finds for it.

It was not, as Carter said, done for personal glory or recognition. Nobody who put into that fund has rushed forward to demand praise. It is a shame, though, that nobody from the club's hierarchy, other than Curle, has seen fit to step up publicly and commend those concerned.

Owners, directors - why not? United's unofficial 'bank', the Edinburgh Woollen Mill - why not?

It may well be that thanks have been issued away from the spotlight, which would be only right and fair (Andrew Jenkins, whose idea it was to give food and drink vouchers to travelling fans at Crawley in September, and who sometimes uses his programme notes to express gratitude, is unlikely to have let it pass him by).

But why not, too, be seen to be saying such things, and in the process tell the rest of the community how deeply the appreciation runs, and - while we are at it - here's how else Carlisle United could benefit if the club and all its people could get locked into some sort of big mutual embrace?

It could be argued that Curle's wish for an additional night's prep was very much an optional extra. Yet nor was it a pointless indulgence, far from it, and the way it was enabled is another small demonstration of where United are right now.

They have EWM, and their billionaire owner Philip Day, quietly in their corner, but this more than ever seems a safety net, nothing broader. Their loan facility may be used to fill (arguably) unavoidable shortfalls during lean cashflow spells but not, in this case, as a way of enhancing first-team preparation.

Ending the financial reliance on chairman Jenkins, which the shift to EWM was supposed to represent, is not yet total. If "friends and fellow supporters" are collecting some of the tab, nine months in, the transition to another backer is progressing at a certain pace, rather than being at an advanced point.

Let us not forget, in all this, that at the onset of the second round, the FA Cup remained United's best chance of making short-term financial gains. Beat Gillingham, draw a whopper: season transformed.

Sheffield Wednesday might be a decent-sized fish rather than a marlin, but the Blues were not to know who they would land when preparing for Kent. Maximising the opportunity of lucrative progress by way of strategy was surely the way to go. Curle asking Carter what could be done was a tribute to both men's initiative but it would not be fair on anyone's pocket to consider that as a regular route, or a method conceived in the boardroom, where the best ideas should normally be born.

That said, imagine if it was shouted from the rooftops, drawn closer, rewarded in some justifiable way and made to feel like the remarkable thing it was? Imagine if all of the people controlling the Blues, rather than the odd one, said how glad they were for this money that the givers have no chance of seeing again?

Imagine what constructive message that would send?

The same applies, on some level, regarding all those paying for tickets and clambering on and off coaches in the dead of night. Nobody is crowbarring their cash from them but nor is Carlisle United the only thing on which a person's income can be entertainingly disposed.

These folk, then, deserve to be spoken to constantly, saluted, and persuaded against joining the armies of apathy who have, over the last decade, walked away from Brunton Park and not seen enough cause to come back.

Day, who many around the club hope and wish will eventually seize and transform it, said in May that, without his support, United might not "exist".

Yet those with the deepest moral right to say things like that are the men and women stumping up every week and also in extreme scenarios; those wondering what they did in a former life to deserve all the road closures, the fatigue and the worry; those who keep returning and helping, because they love Carlisle United, sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of what it is.