The Sound of Football: Carlisle United (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Carlisle United

Nickname: The Cumbrians/The Blues/The Foxes

Ground: Brunton Park

Stadium Capacity: 16,683

Song: Looking Good (We’re Carlisle United)

Carlisle United is the smallest team by population (100k) in the football league. It is also the only side to have once been owned by a man visited by aliens. It was close encounters of the third division kind.

In the mid-1990s, Michael Knighton owned 90 per cent of Carlisle United. He was an unpopular chairman and became a figure of fun when the local Carlisle News & Star newspaper splashed the story “Knighton: Aliens Spoke To Me”.

In the 1970s, the paper said Knighton watched an alien craft perform a range of “impossible” aero-gymnastics moves. Before the craft disappeared into the stratosphere, he claimed he’d received a telepathic message urging him: “Don’t be afraid, Michael“.

However, the story was a stitch-up, and Knighton offered to resign over it until the paper published a semi-apology a few days later asking him to stay  Today, Michael is philosophical. When he discussed the story on his blog in 2013, he wrote:

Do aliens exist? Who knows, I haven’t spoken to any recently!

Carlisle’s nickname is The Foxes due to the most famous English huntsman of all times – John Peel.  John was born in Cumbria and kept a pack of foxhounds. He was immortalized in song:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?

D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day?

D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way.”

(Source: trad.)

Peel’s legacy lived on in the exploits of a Carlisle club mascot called ‘Twinkletoes.’ He would dress in a blue and white top hat and tails and go onto the pitch before home games carrying a stuffed fox named Olga. Sadly, this tradition has ended, and the stuffed fox is only on display inside the stadium.

The club anthem dated back to the 1970s and was recorded after Carlisle United gained promotion to Division 1. It’s called ‘Looking Good (We’re Carlisle United)’.

And, for a few years, things did look good for Carlisle. In 1974 the club briefly topped the first division Bill Shankly, the famous Liverpool manager and a former Carlisle player, even said this was “the greatest feat in the history of the game“.  Unfortunately, due to its small size, they lacked consistency, fell away and the club was relegated at the end of the season.

The club’s anthem was supposed to feature the team singing, but its management refused to send them to the recording studio in London.

The song features crowd noises, which you would assume are the Carlisle fans; however, the composer revealed that Carlisle’s fans were too quiet. He wanted the crowd to sound louder, so he replaced the fans with stock sound effects from a bull-fighting track, which is why if you listen closely, you might just hear “Ole,  Ole,  Ole!“.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

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