Carlisle City v Nelson, Saturday 23rd July 2022, 1.30pm

I’ve still got a handful of Northern League grounds to visit and with Carlisle City’s Gilford Park being the furthest away we made a day of it and went for a walk. Back in 2011, Jen and I spent four days walking alongside Hadrian’s Wall. We didn’t do the full route then, but focused on the central area which has most of the best bits. The furthest west we got at that time was Lanercost Priory and so what I thought we’d do was park up at Walton and then walk eastwards to the Priory and then back again.

It was an enjoyable walk despite some rerouting along a road. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife or a lot of wall, with most of the remains being buried rather than on display, but it was well signposted as the National Trails tend to be. Suitably inspired, we returned a few days later to walk the section between Walton and Crosby in both directions.

Carlisle City were taking on Nelson, a fellow tenth tier team that plays in Division One North of the North West Counties League. Nelson had played the previous day in Scotland and were accompanied by a handful of fans enthusiastically following the mini pre-season tour.

We gave our three quid admission to a girl at the gate. She was complaining to her friend that her fake tan was rubbing off on everything she touched. I remember when my daughter went through her fake tan phase and there was a terracotta stain around every light switch in the house.

There were two seated covered stands and a covered standing area down one side. I’d estimate that around forty people in total had turned up in cold and drizzly weather. We sat in the stand behind the goal.

Nelson’s conditioning seemed better than their hosts and they were two up after fifteen minutes and added a third on the half-hour. Carlisle pulled a goal back, but Nelson added a fourth before half-time. The constant stream of people returning from the burger van meant that the dog was far more alert to what was going on than the Carlisle defenders had been.

Nelson looked as if they would add to their lead after the break but ran out of steam as the game went on, perhaps as a consequence of playing on successive days. Carlisle took advantage of their opponent’s fatigue and scored a couple of late goals to make the game seem closer than it really was, but Nelson held on for a four-three victory that made the trip all the more enjoyable for their travelling fans.

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