Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

All We like Sheep Have Gone Astray

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

All We like Sheep Have Gone Astray

Article excerpt

I ran round the house looking for my sheep. "Who's stolen it?" I cried, which is what I always say when I lose anything. "Think, where did you last put it?" asks my wife, in that irritating manner. As if I would be rushing round like a madman if I knew where I'd put it.

When: that's easier. How could I not remember when I last had it? In 1997, of course, when Carlisle United last went to Wemburlee. It was an inflatable sheep, in CUFC colours, which I bought to show loyalty to the cause.

The sheep is one of Carlisle's symbols, for reasons too rude to go into. It was part of some abuse aimed at Carlisle fans and, as with Millwall, who turned a phrase thrown at them into their own anthem, "No One Likes Us, We Don't Care", CUFC adopted a sheep as their leitmotif. In 1997, some clever manufacturer produced thousands of them in plastic. I was a bit disappointed to find they had been made in Taiwan. Not as disappointed, though, as when I eventually found mine. It was flat, the sides stuck together, crumpled, crumbled, knackered.

It is amazing, really, that in my recent lifetime, this was Carlisle's third visit to Wembley for a Cup Final. In 1995, we got jammily beaten by Birmingham City in extra time, then in 1997 we won, beating Colchester. I didn't make it to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in 2003 and 2006, when we also got to the final. OK, it's only the Mickey Mouse Cup, the one for the third and fourth tiers of Football League clubs, but five finals in 15 years is excellent, considering Carlisle's size and status. …

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