Midfielder Luke Joyce on unbeaten runs and listening to your tutorMidfielder Luke Joyce can have no excuse for being late for training having picked up the last two home game man-of-the-match awards – an accolade which comes complete with a Citizen watch from club partner Peter Jackson the Jeweller.
And the awards haven’t been taken lightly by a player who prides himself on his performance levels and who has thoroughly deserved the recognition off the back of an excellent personal start to the season.
“The man-of-the-match awards have been a bit like buses!” he said. “I’ve never had one before and then two have come along, one after the other. It’s nice to get them and it’s a nice little personal accolade. When you hear it get announced with a few minutes to go it does put a smile on your face.
“At the same time, it’s the points that matter so to get man-of-the-match last Saturday and win the game made it a great afternoon all round. I’ve got two really nice watches now so I’ve been spoiled with them.
“My dad and brother-in-law were in the car on the way back home on Saturday and they had their eyes on them, but they’ll have to come to a few more games before they get their hands on one.”
United were made to earn their points at the weekend as they were twice pegged back by a Hartlepool side who had a ten-man advantage for just over 35 minutes.
“It was a brilliant game,” he said. “I think it was probably up there with the Luton game last year in terms of excitement and drama. To go down to ten men but come back and score two goals in the manner we did, and with the support we had, it was just a fantastic game to be involved in. I think it was a great advert for Carlisle United.
“When you do get a man sent off you’ve got to pull together even more. You’ve got to try and grind it out and share the work load between the ten lads who are left on the pitch. You’ve got to grit your teeth and be determined, and be more disciplined in your play. With that you need to be more sensible with your communication on the pitch to make sure you’re plugging the holes.
“I was sent off a couple of times last season and I can tell you you’re desperate for the lads to get something out of the game. You don’t want your red card to be the reason the game is lost. When I was sent off last year we beat Yeovil on penalties and got a point at Wycombe. It was even better for Shaun [Miller] on Saturday because we still managed to get the three points.
“That’s down to the fact we’ve got great character and a never-say-die attitude in the dressing room and a real willingness to keep going. We’ve got belief in ourselves that even with a man less we can still get something out of a game. I think it shows the massive togetherness we’ve got and the determination to do well.”
That determination has led to the breaking of one club record, and the equalling of another – something else which hasn’t gone unnoticed in the dressing room.
“The unbeaten start has been a great achievement,” he said. “If you’d asked anyone during pre-season if we could have got to 13 league games without being beaten they would have snatched your hand off. It’s been unbelievable.
“Nicky [Adams] has been talking about what Northampton did last year. They had runs like this so we’ll just keep going and take one game at a time. It’s an obvious thing to say but the next game is always the most important one.
“The record is something we haven’t really spoken about as a group. We’ve obviously seen it in the media, and things like that, but we’ve not had a sit down and looked at when we would break records or anything.
“It’s just been a case of keeping it going and, if I’m being honest, I haven’t really looked at the league table that much. On a Saturday we look at the results but that’s it until the next week.”
As well as the club records the 29-year-old reached a personal milestone ten days ago when he broke through the 350-career starts barrier and he admitted that it’s an achievement he feels very pleased with.
“I do feel very proud of it,” he told us. “The main aim as any young professional, just like the youth team players we have here, is to earn your living from playing football at the highest level you can.
“To get that many appearances is brilliant. I remember going to college in Wigan and the tutor telling us all that you weren’t a proper player until you’d played 200 or 300 games. I always remember that conversation.
“I’m actually still in touch with him and he messaged me the other day when he saw that I’d hit the 350 mark. I am proud of it and hopefully I can make a few more.”
Rewinding just over ten years and you find that the first of those appearances was with the very club at which he currently plies his trade.
“I made my Football League debut for Carlisle so it’s funny to come back and make start number 350 for the same club,” he commented. “I sometimes see games in the ‘We’ve Met Before’ section of the programme – one of them was when we played Blackpool on a Boxing Day – and I see that I came on at half time in the game.
“It’s crazy to think it was ten years ago. I think Derek Lacey commentated on my first goal for the club and I’ve still got the recording of it at home somewhere. To be at the club ten years ago, when they won League Two, and to be back now and doing so well is something I’m really proud of.”
In the second part of this interview, on the official website on Thursday afternoon, Luke talks about his time with Accrington Stanley, the importance of family through the tougher periods and his desire to add a promotion to his already impressive CV.