“Disaster” if Carlisle United go down

Date: Saturday 22nd November 2003

“I FOLLOW Carlisle United, of course, because it became my home town,” says Cumbrian author Hunter Davies on page nine of his new book about football, The Fan.

“I FOLLOW Carlisle United, of course, because it became my home town,” says Cumbrian author Hunter Davies on page nine of his new book about football, The Fan.

But in recent seasons the United have repeatedly run the risk of losing Football League status, causing Mr. Davies to write with feeling: “It will be a bloody disaster if Carlisle go down, the end of civilisation, etc.”

“So come on you Blues,” he adds.

It seems a pity that Hunter Davies is not rather older and able to write of some of the real Carlisle stars of the past the cucumber-cool Geoff Twentyman, a giant at the heart of the defence, the right wing trickster, Billy Hogan, player-manager Ivor Broadis, he of the electrifying burst of speed, goal-grabbers Jimmy Whitehouse, Jack Lindsay and Alan Ashman, and winger Lloyd Iceton, who packed one of the most powerful shots ever seen on Brunton Park.

Heroic figures like these would not have allowed Carlisle to sink to the brink of demotion, as some of their recent successors have.

The Fan contains much about the wider scene of football the players, the managers and the supporters.

To use the author’s words on the back cover of the 337-page blockbuster, he tackles the big topics of the day “Beckham’s haircuts, high finance, the price of pies, the size of match day programs, the influence of Sky TV, England’s numerous managers.”

Originally published in the New Statesman, a series of articles have been welded together to create an amusing and appealing book.

As Hunter Davies is a supporter himself, his views on football crowds may be surprising: “Yes, we are pretty unpleasant people, vulgar in our chants, stunted in our emotions, violent in our hatreds. There is little hope for us.”

There are chapters about some of the real stars like George Best and David Beckham.

In his top season, the will o’ the wisp artist Best was paid £30,000. Nowadays men of lesser talent get that much per week.

The Fan, by Hunter Davies, is published by Pomona at £9.99.