CUSC London Branch celebrates 40 years
On this day 40 years ago a small group gathered at The Finborough Arms in Earls Court following Carlisle United’s Division One match at Queens Park Rangers. In the upstairs room of that pub was formed the London Branch of the Carlisle United Supporters’ Club.
Much has changed in those 40 years, for one the Supporters’ Club after which the Branch derives its name is no longer in existence, and over the course of those four decades the London Branch has grown to what it is today.
A membership that numbered just a handful in 1974 numbers in the hundreds today, not just based exclusively in London and the south-east but based right across the world. From annual donations of a mere handful of pence in 1974 the Branch’s sponsorship commitment to Carlisle United this season numbers into five figures.
Much, however, has remained the same over the course of those 40 years. The Branch’s founding aim of providing exiled supporters a sense of belonging to their Club has not changed, neither has the Branch’s friendly and inclusive ethos.
This season sees the London Branch dedicate itself to Carlisle United more than ever before. The Branch yesterday acted as Associate Sponsors for United’s game against Accrington Stanley and today, on the actual date of the Branch’s anniversary, they are sponsoring the Carlisle United Ladies team’s game against Stockport County Blues. A further sponsored game at Brunton Park will follow next May and in addition to existing annual sponsorship commitments, such as Centre of Excellence coach David Wilkes, the Branch has this season undertaken to sponsor United’s YouTube highlights, ensuring this excellent service can be enjoyed to its fullest by all fans of the Club.
The #shanklyshirt campaign launched back in April with a commemorative t-shirt adorning that infamous Bill Shankly quote, “The greatest feat in the history of the game”, referring to the Club’s promotion to Division One in 1974, will see 100% of its profits donated to the Club. These now number into four figures and is on top of 50 shirts donated to the Blues Store which quickly sold out. A new line of merchandise to commemorate the Branch’s 40th anniversary, to be launched very soon, will build on the success of the #shanklyshirt initiative, and a special monthly members draw is already up and running, raising hundreds of pounds for Carlisle United.
The Branch will continue the anniversary celebrations this coming Thursday when it holds its monthly members meeting at the very location it was founded 40 years ago, The Finborough Arms, before holding a special anniversary dinner in January, and whilst numbers for this event are limited all United fans are invited to join the Branch for a pre-dinner drink.
All of this on top of what the Branch does day-in day-out every season - organised group travel to matches, a Ticket Deposit Scheme to help its members obtain tickets quickly and easily, regular social events and supporters’ football matches, an annual summer trip to a cultural location, a regular Hit The Bar! fanzine, a weekly emailed virtual Hit The Bar! newsletter, regular donations to Carlisle United and much more besides.
You can tweet your message of congratulations to the Branch on this, their anniversary, using the hashtag #HappyAnniversaryLondonBranch.