Room 101

Paul Merton
Paul Merton
Hello, Paul Merton here. You know me I'm the miserable looking comedian who's never off the box. You told me you wanted to be on Room 101 - well here you are.

Personally I don't know what it is with some football fans. They harbour irrational grudges, support teams that haven't a hope of ever winning anything and show signs of eccentric behaviour that would keep a psychiatrist busy for years. Frankly I'm not surprised that a whole pile of you wanted various people and places to be consigned to Room 101. However I insist that you keep the list down to ten. Good - I see you've managed it. Let's get started then.


Cut to the chase. It's May 1986. Tolmie is playing on loan for the Blues from Manchester City. Carlisle need to beat Charlton in their last home game to stay in the old Division Two. Tolmie has just scored a penalty in the previous match to help beat Brighton. Now the Cumbrians are two-up thanks to Wes Saunders' two goals.

Charlton need only a point to secure a place in the old First Division. Two minutes from half-time. Everything going swimmingly. The bubble-permed Tolmie collects the ball just inside his own half, turns and looks to play the ball back towards keeper Scott Endersby. He hoists the ball upwards, the wind catches it and Endersby is furiously back-pedalling. The unthinkable is happening. The ball clears Endersby's outstretched hand and floats into the back of the net. Own goal! 2-1 to Carlisle. Pressure back on.

It appears no film survives of this ghastly event. Needless to say if it does, it should be burnt on a big bonfire. Charlton, buoyed by the ridiculous gift, turn the screw in the second half, scoring two more goals to snatch a 3-2 win. Charlton are promoted, United almost relegated. There remains a final escape route at Oldham the following Monday evening. Ian Bishop scores to put United one-up. The Latics rally to win 2-1. Blackburn beat Grimsby. Result = United down. And Jim Tolmie? Disappeared without trace.

United of course have never recovered their league position lost on that fateful afternoon. Fans have long memories and Tolmie has probably never returned to the city. He is in effect the polar opposite of Jimmy Glass. A man who destroyed a club and diminished its standing in the game for decades to come. Oh and that perm was really crap.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Alright Carlisle fans - Tolmie drops, just like your team. I'm pulling the lever! Ker-plunk."


Peter Mellor. Tall, muscular, blond, almost Amazonian. If Mellor had been 20 years younger he'd probably have featured on the TV series 'Gladiators'. Alas, he chose a career in professional football, playing between the sticks for Burnley (which is cause enough to be in Room 101, surely?) and then Fulham.

The tall, handsome, muscular, blond Mellor arrived in town with his Fulham team mates (Bobby Moore, Alan Mullery, Viv Busby, Jimmy Conway etc) in March 1975 for an FA Cup Sixth Round tie against Carlisle at Brunton Park. This was the furthest United had ever advanced in the competition, although they kicked off rightly as favourites, being a First Division side at home to a team half-way down the Second.

From the off Mellor was inspired, pulling off a series of top saves. Fulham clung on tenaciously then got lucky. Early in the second half Allan Ross and Peter Carr failed to deal with Busby's right-wing cross. The ball bobbled out to Les Barratt, unmarked, who side footed home. With sleeves rolled up, United battled back. Ray Train hit a fizzing shot at the Warwick Road End that was destined for the top corner but that bastard Mellor tipped it over. Truly the save of the last millennium.

In his book Singin' the Blues, Neil Nixon describes Mellor as almost like a member of the Hitler Youth. Too right - he was sent up from below to destroy our dreams. Now he too must be destroyed.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner, that I love London Town! Peter Mellor ain't going in Room 101 because he played for a London club and I'm a Londoner, me."


A whole club? Consigned to Room 101? Yep. Preston's ability to infuriate and occasionly delight the United faithful is the stuff of legend. Ever since Alan Spavin's goal put Carlisle out of the FA Cup in the 1963-64 competition at the Fifth Round stage, these two sides have had a fierce rivalry, separated by ninety miles of the M6.

Our next meeting in the Cup came in 1975 when we won 1-0, beating a North End side that contained a certain Bobby Charlton in the No.11 shirt, sporting his last few strands of hair.

Remember November 1993 when Tony Ellis slipped in between Dean Walling and Joe Joyce to head a late winner at Brunton Park? Carlisle missed a penalty and had two goals disallowed. Then the Knob Enders brought a halt to United's massive unbeaten run in the 1994-95 championship season. Sky cameras recorded Preston's 2-0 success at Brunton in October 1997.

But it hasn't been all bad. Preston were twice defeated 1-0 during the 1981-82 promotion campaign. Who can forget those 3-0 wins at Deepdale in 1994 and 1998? Great results, well celebrated by the customary enormous Cumbrian travelling army.

However it's 2002 now and the Knobs are pushing for a Premiership place while United attempt a re-launch under the guidance of John Courtenay. It's envy of a footballing kind. Will we ever finish above them again? Will we ever play them again?

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Preston are scum. Nobody likes them, they don't care. Nobody likes Carlisle, they don't care either. Preston have pots of money, United have less. Should I put them in? I don't really know. No I won't. Oh alright then. Ker-plunk."


"He's a Prins, Prins, Prins amongst men". Well Chris Barrie was in a forgettable late-90s sitcom, but not our Jason. He couldn't hit a sumo wrestler's arse with a frying pan. Prins played several times for United, without scoring. Which is a shame because he was a striker, paid to get goals. Prins was a great non-achiever. Gawky, awkward, uncoordinated, unattractive, pretty hapless really. In the looks department, Jase wouldn't give David Ginola a run for his money by any means, and he was never going to advertise anything except spot cream.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Oh dear - ugly footballers. They have my sympathy, after all I'm a pretty plain looking guy myself. Crap ugly footballers. That's worse. But Prins didn't really do any lasting harm to anyone did he? Let the lad alone. I'm not putting in him, sorry."


I hate to see good managers shown the door. At CUFC in recent times it has become all too commonplace. Mervyn Day, Ian Atkins (okay so he wasn't officially sacked but we all knew the score) and Roddy Collins. With the new era in place, this particular gripe will not be much of a problem, I suspect, in future. However the practice has always been grubby and associated with desperate acts of PR from all sides. "Mr Bloggs left by mutual consent" - which means Mr Bloggs was told if he didn't walk, he'd be pushed. Normally managers get the boot because of fan pressure. But nowadays the manager is often less hated than the chairmen. Supporters see the money men as the new pariahs of football. Not all chairmen deserve to be categorised in this manner, of course. However they can be ruthless when they have to be and at Brunton Park, a manager walking out the door has normally been a bad sign.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Managers come and go. If they had any sense, they'd resign with dignity before getting the boot. But as this is Carlisle, I'll put the whole damn practice in the Room. Ker-plunk!"

6. STEWARDS (especially those employed by Lincoln and our own Geordies)

A steward
An aggressive steward
"We hate the Geordies! We hate the Geordies!", who can fail to have heard that lilting ballad ringing out from the top of the East Stand as another unsuspecting home supporter is given a severe ticking off by some yellow-coated jobsworth for unmentionable crimes such as coughing too loudly, moving about in one's seat or even standing up in the back row, thus blocking the view of...of.. who exactly?

Then we went to Lincoln and had them trained apes - sorry not exactly trained were they? pulled straight out of the rainforests surely? Where were there security IDs and their coats? so it was a hot day - that's no excuse! They behaved like hotheads and bizarrely it is us who are apparently facing a rap across the knuckles from the FA.

A word though for those stewards who do their job effectively and without histrionics. There are quite a few at Brunton Park. Some of them would have done Lincoln proud the other day.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Hmmm not sure about this one. Without stewards, fans would run amok, as they say in the tabloids and we'd have injuries and perhaps death to contend with. Being a law-abiding comedian with a clean police record, I am not going to let this lot in. Sorry - but that's just the way I am. Oh fuck it in they go then. Ker - plunk! Ha ha ha."


Gates was the seemingly masterful signing by Clive Middlemass in the summer of 1990. We'd just seen Cameroon's ageless and decidedly wily Roger Milla rip teams to shreds in the World Cup Finals. Gates therefore was a very shrewd choice and would surely do the same to Fourth Division defences, being of the same vintage and a past international himself. Sadly Gates was no Milla. In fact he wasn't even much of an Eric Gates. At 35, he was looking to collect one last pay-packet before hanging up his boots and performed like it. Trotting around like a disinterested old pro with just the occasional flash of his old brilliance, he became increasinly unpopular with sections of the crowd as a desperate season dragged on. He once scored a dramatic late winner against Peterborough at Brunton Park but was still booed off. It was amazing, never before or since have I seen a less popular player at United. Rather sad, in a way.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Gates didn't try hard enough but perhaps he was misunderstood and out of his true habitat in the lower reaches of the Fourth? I'm a bit of an old pro myself and believe in sticking up for the more mature professional. Gates may have been shite, but he's not ready to go into Room 101. Sorry."


Ok, ok. So Manure shouldn't really be here but so many fans just can't stand the sight of the red shirts and one player in particular (first name Roy surname Keane) that they just have to be included for the sake of completeness. It's true they're never off the box. In this day and age of TV ratings wars and the massive commercial influence that has taken hold of the beautiful game, the Red Devils from Old Trafford symolise all that is wrong with the 'beautiful game' of football. Their enormous profit-making marketing machine means they will probably always be one of Europe's elite, never mind England's and if they ever get relegated like they did famously back in 1974 (yes, it really did happen) then I'll happily wander down Botchergate wearing nothing but a broad smile. Remember for one glorious season, between August 1974 and May 1975, Carlisle United were a division HIGHER than the Old Trafford behemoth. Hard to believe, difficult to fathom, impossible to explain and almost certainly not known to 95% of current Man United "fans" - but nevertheless true. An historical fact. One to remember.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Speaking as a cockney I can't stand them. I prefer the Arsenal any day. They've won too much and have become rich, bloated, arrogant and resentful, like their Scottish manager. I'm pulling the lever - just you try to stop me! Ker-plunk!"


A referee
Who's the b*st*rd in the black?
Bald referee Kevin Lynch from York managed to infuriate United fans on many an occasion but two games in particular stand out. As Carlisle unsuccessfully fought a relegation battle in 1997-98, Lynch came up to Brunton Park to officiate at the game against Grimsby in late April. Only a win would do for United. They didn't play that well, but Lynch still conspired to cost them the game. In one innocuous-looking incident he not only sent off defender John Foster but also awarded a penalty to the visitors. Grimsby scored, Lynch's assistant referee was assaulted by a fan and the Blues went down - and have yet to return. Having relegated us to Division Three, Lynch did his best to complete the job and send us into the Conference when he took charge of the game at Chester in April 2000. He sent off Steve Halliday and Stuart Whitehead for questionable offences and Carlisle were to finish the game with only nine men. Heroically Scott Dobie scored his injury time screamer and Lynch suddenly seemed a very small, very bald, very insignificant little man. He barely refereed again, leaving the league list at the end of that season.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "Lynch sounds like everyone's least favourite school teacher, an over-officious little trumped up short-arsed bald Hitler. I can't think of a more deserving candidate for Room 101 - down he goes. Ker-plunk!"

10. MICHAEL ******** (AND FAMILY)

Michael Knighton
A football club owner
So it comes down to the final selection and oh what a surprise! Michael entered Brunton Park as the saviour in the summer of '92 and ten years later he exited under a rather large cloud. If he proved one thing during his time in Carlisle it was that egocentric property developers armed with big promises and hidden agendas will not be welcome at clubs like Carlisle ever again. Certainly he brought the good times back during his first five years - two Wembley trips, two promotion seasons, a series of exciting FA Cup runs and of course, the impressive if half-finished East Stand. Attendances increased to the highest levels in almost two decades. Unfortunately it all went wrong as good players were sold, good managers sacked and fans totally alienated. Then his family started to get rather too heavily involved for their own good. Innocent perhaps but still involved and therefore, in the firing line. The three farcical years of prolonged and at times acrimonious negotiations with various people who wanted to buy the club simply made matters much worse. In the end fans rallied and united firmly against Mr K and he was backed into a corner. A hasty deal was done and he was out - but even then he hung around longer than he was required to and we may not have seen the last of him yet.

PAUL MERTON SAYS: "On the one hand ******** gave you glory and that lovely all-seater stand. On the other he shafted you mercilessly with the sale of talented players at the wrong times and the running down of the business to a point where it was practically bankrupt. I'm a decent, reasonable person who likes to balance things out and look at everything with an open mind. Because of that, he's going in. Ker-plunk!!! Ha ha ha, good bye Fatso!"