Free football tickets for hundreds of young football fans thanks to The Cumberland

Published on
23 January 2023

There were squeals of delight as more than 170 parents and children arrived at Brunton Park ahead of Carlisle United’s home victory against Newport County (on Saturday 14 January 2023). The children were all invited to watch the game as part of The Cumberland’s Schools and Community ticket scheme.

The scheme has been running for over 16 years and for most of that time the building society has been sponsoring it to help grow a community of young fans eager to support their home team.

The scheme provides primary schools, community groups and junior football teams with free tickets for all the home football matches during the season, with thousands of children getting to follow in the footsteps of legendary players past and present. The also children receive a goody bag and a ticket for the next game.

Skipping with excitement down the players’ tunnel and towards the pitch, the children stop to admire the Carlisle United emblem above them. Then, as they take a few more excited steps, their eyes are filled with wonder as they explore an area they may never get to see again.

The children have a chance to see the boot room and walk the same passageways used by the players - and even bumped into a few on their tour. One of the highlights for many was meeting the club mascot, Olga the Fox.

Former Carlisle United midfielder Jeff Thorpe arrived at Brunton Park with youngsters from Cockermouth’s under 10’s. He believes it is a ‘brilliant scheme’ which gives many children their first taste of seeing their home team. He said: “Bringing young footballers to watch the match is extra special, they get to do so much and leave so inspired. They meet the players, get to sit in the dugout and some of the children even had the chance to hold the flags to form a guard of honour for the players as they came out onto the pitch.

“It’s not just the organisers who enjoy having thousands of children attend matches over the season, parents of the children are thrilled they have the chance to bring them to a game too.”

Kayleigh Morrow was at recent win with her son: “It’s Rhys’s first time coming to a match and he’s having so much fun. It’s really inspiring to see how excited he is to be here supporting the home team and watching his passion grow.”

Rhys, who plays for UniSun under 8s, said: “I love playing football and it’s so cool to come here to watch Carlisle play.”

Andrew Gordon, business development manager for The Cumberland, has been coming to watch Carlisle United play for about fifty years: “I love coming and showing the children around the club. It’s great to see their faces light up when they walk through the tunnel to the pitch and sit in the dugout, they love it and it’s great to be part of creating these memories for them.

“We want to encourage children in the community to come and support Carlisle United. When I first started attending games, I would have to stand on a box to watch. Now, seeing the children’s excitement reach fever pitch is brilliant. I’m proud to be part of it and it shows how The Cumberland are committed not just to Kinder banking, but to making a big difference in the community.”

Former headteacher, Stephen Fraser, has supported the scheme since it began when Fred Story, the team owner at the time, wanted to bring youngsters to the game and get them engaged with the sport.

He said: “The scheme was born out of wanting to involve children in the sport and show them their home team. As part of the scheme, players often go to meet the kids at school or their training sessions, then, they come to the match and see the players a few days later.

“It’s great to have the support of The Cumberland, having developed our community links over a number of years together.”

Carlisle United manager Paul Simpson came out to meet the children ahead of the match, making time to have a chat with the youngsters and pose for pictures. He said: "I see the groups doing their ground tour ahead of nearly every home game and it's always fantastic to see how excited they are to be at the stadium on a match day.

"The Cumberland Schools and Community Ticket Scheme is a brilliant initiative, with so many young people getting to come to a game when they perhaps otherwise wouldn't have that opportunity. The numbers are in their hundreds for those who attend using this scheme across the season.”

"Thank you to everyone at The Cumberland who makes it happen - and a huge thank you to the children for putting a smile on my face on a Saturday afternoon."

United defender Jack Ellis went to meet the youngsters and said: “It’s really good to come and meet the children. They’re our future fans and it’s great to see them enjoying it and having fun.”

Reserve goalkeeper Scott Simons added: “It’s brilliant to see the young fans' faces and meet them all, I enjoy it as much as they do. It’s so special to make a connection with them now and I hope they will remember this for the rest of their lives.”

If your school or community group is interested in participating in the Cumberland Schools and Community Ticket Scheme, please contact the Carlisle United ticket office.