Club captain Danny Grainger put pen-to-paper on a new one-year deal this week taking him into a fifth year with the club he’s supported since first standing on the terraces at Brunton Park as a boy.
The no-nonsense left back, 32 next month, is edging ever closer to 200 appearances for the Cumbrians and admitted that, despite interest from elsewhere, United was always his preferred choice.
“I’m delighted that we’ve got this done,” he said. “I’ve said all along that I wanted to stay here because it’s the club I support, and I’ve always found it to be amazing that I get to play football here as well.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here from minute one and I can’t think of any reason for me to want to move away. I’ve said every year that the icing on the cake would be to get some success for the club and the fans, because that’s the only thing that’s been missing.
“We’ve come close, and it’ll be another big challenge next season, but we have a new manager coming in and I can’t wait to start working for him and to hopefully help him to enjoy a bit of success with us as well.”
Heading into his fifth season with the Blues, he said: “Sometimes in football you get a situation where a club seems to fit certain people well, and that’s the case for me here.
“I’m obviously a local lad, I love the place, and I feel really settled in the area. I’ve started up a football academy in the Penrith area, which is massively enjoyable, and I’ve found already that I’ve been able to link that in with the club’s academy.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact over the years that Carlisle United was the club I wanted to play for and to have done that now for four years is just fantastic. Hopefully I’ll see the last few years of my playing career out here, because it’s a great place to be.”
With 172 appearances in all competitions under his belt already here at Brunton Park, he told us: “That’s flown by and we’ve had some real highs and lows in amongst it all as well. I know I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, but it means a lot to have played that many games for this club.
“Being honest, the lowest I’ve felt through my time in football was that night down in Exeter when they’d just knocked us out of the play-offs with almost the last kick of the game.
“I found that very hard to take because we wanted to see that through all the way to a promotion winning final. We’d had the high of battling our way into the play-offs, following what had been a frustrating sticky patch, and our confidence was soaring at the time.
“The high points are probably just as obvious. I don’t think you can ever beat playing in front of some of the massive followings we’ve had, at places like Hartlepool and Morecambe, so it was very special to take Liverpool to penalties in front of a packed away end. You don’t forget things like that in a hurry.
“I’m looking forward to more occasions like that and to hopefully helping to push the club up to the next level as well.
“Getting double figures with goals last season was superb [he scored 10 in total] and I have to set myself that target again. I love taking penalties, but it looks like I’ll be arguing that situation with Dev [Jamie Devitt] because he backs himself with them as well.
“It’s good to know there’s two of us who are more willing to take set piece duties because it gives the team something extra in the tool kit.”
As with any player out of contract, rumours have circulated from almost the moment the last ball was kicked last season which linked the popular left back with moves to various clubs, including some quite close to home.
“There was interest from other clubs, and there were offers on the table, but, like I say, I really enjoy playing for my home town club,” he commented. “It was just a case of speaking to Nigel [Clibbens] and making sure things were right for everybody here.
“We’ve been able to do that, and I’m pleased that we’ve got it over the line now. There’s no point in going into specifics about which other clubs wanted to talk, but I did see on Twitter that I was closely linked with Morecambe.
“You have to smile at some of the things that come out because they’re just not true. There was no contact at all with them, even though some people were positing that they were certain I’d even been down there for talks. It just didn’t happen.”
With a month of new arrivals anticipated, following the appointment of a new manager, he said: “I’m looking forward to it. Players have moved on for their own reasons, we all know that, and we wish them the very best of luck.
“We had a great dressing room, that was no secret either, but this is football. Part of what I’m about and the character I am, I see it as my job to help to build that up again from the moment we get back in for pre-season.
“We still have some very experienced players here at the club, which is going to be important next season, and they all want the same thing as we do. We want to be pushing on again and making sure we’re fighting at the top end of the table.
“I’m sure the new lads will have the same approach. It’s like being a fan for me at the moment because I’m glued to social media waiting for news as well. Once we have the manager we’ll start to get the players and it will all get exciting for everybody.
“The start of next season can’t come quick enough for me. A new manager means a different way of doing things and that’s a positive for us all. All I hope is that everybody gets behind him, whoever he is, so that we give ourselves the best chance of having a right good go at it this season.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a fantastic cup final day up in Scotland and all I want is to go through something like that again here with Carlisle.”
But does he want to continue to wear the coveted captain’s armband?
“Everyone knows how proud of being club captain I am, but if the new manager wants to take that a different way the new captain will get my full backing,” he added. “It won’t affect how I conduct myself or the working relationships I have if that is the case.
“If I am the captain then I’ll give it everything, as I always have. It’s an honour to wear the armband and I’m sure whoever gets it will treat it in the right way.”
As for the rest of the summer break, he said: “I’ll get a bit of time away with the family, which I’m really looking forward to, but I’ll always have one eye on the pre-season training programme.
“Lee Fearn sent us our programmes out, so that helps to keep us on track, but it’s pre-season number 16 for me and I still get nervous about it. You just know you’re going to be put through it.
“I’ll do my work and I’ll make sure I’m ready. I’ve done it so many times now I know that you can’t afford to take too much time away from it during the summer. Day one is always horrible, but you’re soon into the swing of it and it puts you in good stead for the season ahead.”