Border City Blue

The 8th of May 1999 was a big day for Carlisle United Football Club. Members of the Football League for just over seventy years, they were the only surviving club of the three Cumbrian clubs that had once been members of the Football League (Workington and Barrow having lost their places in the 1970s), but now their place in the League was on the line and they had to beat Plymouth Argyle at Brunton Park on the last day of the season to stay up. Into injury time, they won a corner and threw everybody, including on loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, forward. The corner fell to Glass who, from six yards out, slammed the ball into the bottom corner of the net and sent Scarborough down instead. It was in some respects the ultimate football fairytale, but the truth was somewhat more complex than that. For one thing, Carlisle had been run into the ground by the maladministration of Michael Knighton over a period of the previous three or four years or so. Knighton had famously attempted to wrest control of Manchester United for £20m in 1989 to the extent of running onto the pitch at Old Trafford in a full United kit to demonstrate his “skills”. The deal fell through (and just think how different modern football might have been had it not done so), and Knighton’s spell...

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