I was quite surprised when I got the call up to travel with the first team for the Grays Athletic game, and we went down to London on the Friday. We stayed in a similar hotel to the one that we used for the Millwall match on the Tuesday. It was a decent hotel, not too far from the ground, so that wasn’t too bad.
Part of travelling with the first team is an initiation ceremony – which isn’t as bad as it sounds! When you are with them on away trip for the first time they make you stand up and give a little speech about yourself.
I found it to be quite nerve wracking because some of the first team squad are real jokers, and they pounce on you right away if they get the chance. Both myself and Jonny Blake, also from the Youth team, stood up and did our bit and it seemed to go down alright, I’m pleased to say. I’m sure they’d have let us know if it hadn’t. To be honest, we were made to feel really welcome and we weren’t singled out as if we were anything other than members of the squad.
FA Cup Match: Grays Athletic v Carlisle United
Kick off was at 1pm for this match, so we went through our pre-match routine in the morning. It felt a bit strange to be eating pasta and things like at 9-30am, but I managed to fit it all in somehow!
We set off for the ground at just after eleven. It was really good, both Jonny Blake and I were on the bench, and it was the first time that I’d been involved like that. I have trained with the first team players before only the Reserves, but it was good to take that next step.
Everything from the warm up right through to the final whistle was a really good experience for us both. Neither of us got on, but it was still good to be part of it.
We were winning 2 – 0 and then we got a penalty. At that point we were told to go and warm up, so I think the manager may have been thinking about putting us on. Unfortunately we missed the spot kick, so it didn’t happen.
The game itself was a bit scruffy, a typical first round of the FA Cup affair. It was a non-league side going at a League One side to try and get a win, and they gave it a good go. I’m pleased to say that we took our chances and it was a good result for us in the end.
The trip back home was quite a long one. I got off at Manchester to go home for my weekend off, but Jonny had to go all the way back to Carlisle. He got to his house about midnight, compared to me being sat in front of the telly at 9pm! Like I say, overall it was a great day.
Match: Carlisle United Reserves v Accrington Stanley Reserves
We had a Reserve game against Accrington Stanley on the Monday and I started in that one. I think that was the fifth time I’d played them this season – twice in the Reserves, twice for the Youth and once in the Youth Cup as well. It does seem a bit odd to come up against the same team so many times this side of Christmas.
We won the game 3 – 2 but it wasn’t the best performance, and we gave away two really sloppy goals. As a defender I was very disappointed about that.
One of our senior first team players, Peter Murphy, played alongside me. He’s just coming back from a long spell of being out through injury, so it was superb to play beside him. He talks a heck of a lot, giving advice and pointing things out, and that really helped me through.
On the Wednesday the first team played Crewe in the FA Cup. I was in the squad but I didn’t make the bench for that one. It’s still superb to be in and around the first team though, and I hope that it continues for me.
On the Thursday it was back to college, which was a decent day, but I felt terrible by the time I got home. I ended up being in bed all day Friday, and I missed the Youth game on the Saturday. Believe me, the Youth team manager, Eric Kinder, is getting some mileage out of that one!
I did nothing all weekend apart from try to get rid of the virus. Everyone at the club has decided that I am fair game because I’ve had a few days in bed, and I have been absolutely slaughtered. Even on our Official website has had a go at me … but I’ll remember it all!
As I write these notes (last Monday) I am about to be sent home again. Dolly, our physio, doesn’t want to take the risk that I will pass this bug on to anyone else, so he has told me to disappear. That means that I miss out on training and college, and you have no idea how boring that can be. I’d much prefer to be doing what I should be doing than battling this.