London Calling – August 2006
With the football season starting again, it's hard to believe that it ever finished! United's last league game was in May, followed by the championship winning celebrations. The World Cup followed in June and July, immediately followed by United's European Tour of Ibiza and then the series of friendlies that has led us to the start of a new campaign in a new division.
The busy close season has meant a busy close season for the London Branch too. Many of us travelled up to Stockport and some even made it to Brunton Park in the evening of the same game.
On the Monday after Stockport the London Branch sent a deputation to the snappily named APFSCIL (The Association of Provincial Football Supporters' Clubs in London). APFSCIL is a body that is meant to represent and provide a unified voice for all of the Branches of Supporters' Clubs in London. We were one of the founding members back in 1974 when there were just 8 London Branches. Now there are over sixty and the body seems to have lost its way and been overtaken by other supporters' associations in representing the voice of the fans. This has meant that APFSCIL has become little more than a social club that runs a Football League, a Darts League and a Pool League. Unfortunately our London Branch has had to pull out of the Darts and Pool League and has never been able to field an eleven a side soccer team on a regular enough basis. This has meant that APFSCIL has become an irrelevance for us and back in January 2004 we wrote to the Chairman to suggest ways in which the meetings and the organisation could become more meaningful to lower league clubs such as ourselves. Unfortunately, the committee did not even have the manners to reply and refusing to let it drop we have finally managed to get the topic on the agenda for discussion at the August meeting, 32 months after we originally raised it. This may prove too little too late as, at the London Branch AGM in July, the members voted not to rejoin APFSCIL for the 2006/7 season.
The San An Trophy meant that the London Branch had to hastily defer the Summer Trip to Rome until 2007 and replace it with a trip to Ibiza. London Branch members from as far away as Birmingham, York and deepest Surrey made the trip although a couple from the Outer Hebrides had to pull out at the last minute. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the Sangria, sun and sand that San Antonio had to offer. We watched the World Cup Final in the Café del Sol where we had a fantastic meal and were introduced to a variety of Lemon Sorbets that seemed to consist mainly of Vodka.
Neil McDonald used the games to run his eye over the squad and this meant that the players were out to impress. The eleven – nil (there were another two goals that were dubiously disallowed) thrashing of the Ibiza pub team select was witness to this and the fact that Scunthorpe couldn't get any change out of either the first team or the reserves shows how everyone played their part. It was a great initiative and whilst the accommodation for the majority of fans left something to be desired its one that most people who went would be willing to repeat. It was great to walk down the road to the ground and see the pub draped with Carlisle United flags and many familiar faces so far from home.
The London Branch AGM was held in the House of Commons again this year to celebrate our championship-winning season. Eric Martlew MP hosted the meeting, which was attended by over 35 members. Simon Clarkson, Malcolm Fawcett and Richard Wood were re-elected to the committee and Iain Davidson rejoined after a couple of years absence. Ian Jardine stepped down after a three-year stint as Social Secretary. The meeting was followed by the usual après meeting food and drink in the St Stephen's Tavern, just opposite Big Ben, where new member Paul Harrison (author of the Boys in Blue) joined us to participate in the celebrations.
At the opening game against Doncaster Rovers look out for the presentation at half-time where the London Branch will be handing over a cheque for £2,000 for the long overdue refurbishment of the press box. The London Branch members rely on the press for information and coverage of Carlisle United matters and are proud to be able to help the club improve its facilities.
If you are interested in learning more about the London Branch or would like to enquire about joining please do not hesitate to contact me.