Forward Omari Patrick turned 24 on Sunday but was able to enjoy a ‘fairly normal’ birthday thanks to his family – and all within the government guidelines, of course.
“I know it could have felt a bit weird because of the lockdown but it wasn’t that bad, to be fair,” he explained. “My family were brilliant and anyone who knows me will tell you that this is normally what I do anyway at the end of a season.
“I always come home, because I’ve lived away for close to four years now, so it’s just like a holiday to me.
“I love seeing my family – they had made some good cake for me to eat – and I saw my mum and my stepdad and sisters during the day, then I popped to see my dad, my stepmum and my little brother, all within the rules, and it was all good.”
Speaking more about what the last 10 weeks have been like, he told us: “It’s been strange but just like everybody else you just have to get on with it and make the best of it.
“As well as the fitness work I’ve been doing, the runs and the home workouts and things like that, I’ve also just been chilling with my family.
“Keeping on top of the fitness levels has obviously been important, so I bought some bands to go with the weights – have you noticed how everybody is buying weights now, by the way! – and that’s helped me to be able to add different things into my sessions.
“The training programme that was put together for us was just what we needed. If the decision had been made that the season was restarting, then I know we’d have all been ready for it. I actually felt that I was getting fitter all the time because a lot of what we had to do was hard work.
“I thought it was an excellent balance between body work and running and a lot of that will continue until we find out when the new season will begin.
“And, as anyone who has seen me on Instagram will know, I’ve picked up a new hobby to help to fill the time. I got myself some new DJ kit and, to be fair, I’m getting better at it the more I do. I’m possibly not quite ready to do live sets just yet, but things are definitely getting smoother.
“It’s kept me busy between fitness sessions and I’m really enjoying it. The days are going quicker because of it and, who knows, I might be doing it live one day!”
A major feature on Thursday nights for the nation has been the appreciation shown towards the NHS, and the popular striker admitted that the hand clapping and celebration held an extra note of significance with both his girlfriend and his grandma nurses at hospitals in London.
“My girlfriend has been working very hard and it was a while before I got to see her initially, and I was only getting to see for about an hour or so every few days once the restrictions were lifted a bit,” he revealed. “We came up with the great idea of her being able to train with me in the park within the social distancing rules, so at least we could get to talk to and see each other.
“I think that helped her to feel better because she has been going in to work and dealing with the virus every single day, and that’s been so tough on her. She’s addicted to working out and doing fitness sessions now because it’s become such a good release for her.
“She’s now the one who picks the phone up and says ‘right, come on, we’re doing a session’ and that’s superb for us both.
“I do think about her a lot with what she’s doing at work so I sent her and her colleagues in the hospital she works at some cakes as a surprise, just to help to put smiles on their faces at what is a really testing time for them all.
“It’s been a scary time and an experience I’m sure she’ll never forget, and my grandma is also a nurse, that’s been her whole life, so I’m definitely thinking of them and what they’re going through when the clapping starts on a Thursday night.”
Turning the clock back to the cancellation of the Grimsby game what seems an age ago, he said: “It was all a bit of shock, definitely, because we’d played on the Tuesday night and it was all about focusing on that weekend game and adding another win to the mix.
“When the decision was made on the Friday to cancel that game we were given the weekend off … and I haven’t been back since!
“That’s been the strangest part for me. The lockdown came really quickly after that and I hardly had anything with me, so I had to get online and order some clothes and stuff, or I’d have been forever walking around in Carlisle gear.
“That wasn’t a problem though because it was clear how serious the situation with the virus was. We had to beat it and I think we were prepared to do anything to help with that, so how it affected people personally was more of a side issue to making sure we all helped the NHS to do what they needed to do.”
In the second part of our interview with Omari Patrick, on the official website tomorrow, he talks about how settled he feels at Brunton Park and how feeling wanted has made his confidence grow and added to his determination to help to make the club a success.