United physio Neil Dalton will end his 28-years of senior service (34-years of association) with Carlisle United Football Club as he moves on to a new challenge [he has agreed to work with director of football David Holdsworth on the appointment of a new physio, and to assist with the transitional period prior to his departure].
Neil, known affectionately by everyone as Dolly (and that includes his wife and kids, by the way) first came through the doors at Brunton Park under the fledgling Centre of Excellence concept introduced by Harry Gregg in 1986.
His journey took him through the youth system, and then into the physio department under Peter Hampton, where he eventually became one the youngest serving head physiotherapists in the Football League in 1997.
At time of writing he has worked 1,209 senior games from the dugout, and heaven only knows what that figure would be if all reserve, bounce and friendly fixtures were added into the mix.
Speaking today, Dolly said: “It’s been a privilege to work with my hometown club and I’ve met so many fantastic people over the years. From starting under Harry Gregg as a youth player, to being signed by Aiden [McCaffrey] as a player in 1992, and then onwards to starting as a physio in 1995.
“There have been so many highs and lows, and so many wonderful memories that it’s obviously a tough decision to make, but I’m looking forward to my new challenge.”
Chairman Andrew Jenkins said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure travelling up and down the country with Dolly all these years. We’ve had many a discussion and debate, and we’ve talked over all kinds of topics as we’ve been stuck in traffic jams, broken down, or simply been on another long journey.
“We’ve watched him grow up over the years to become a top-class physio, who is respected throughout the game, and it will be tough for us to see him go. This is football, new challenges come along, and we wish him the very best in his next post.”
Head coach Chris Beech said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Dolly, even though it’s only been for a short period of time. He’s extremely knowledgeable and intelligent and he uses the experience he’s gained at the club and within his trade to offer really sound advice.
“A measure of the kind of person he is will be that he’s going to help us with the recruitment process of bringing a new head physio into the club, with the job being open to all applicants with the necessary qualifications.
“As much as you want to keep your staff together, you also have to be realistic if they do decide to test themselves elsewhere. He’s spoken to me and I can see that he’s ready for the new challenge he’s taking on.
“All you can do is support that, and it goes without saying that everyone at this club wishes him all the very best.”
We’ll be speaking to Dolly in-depth about his time at United later this month.