The Blues kicked off their home league campaign with a victory over Southend on Saturday, with 1,000 season ticket holders in attendance as part of an EFL wide series of test fixtures.
Speaking about the return of supporters, manager Chris Beech said: “It’s so good that we were able to reward the fans who could come with a win and a good performance.
“When they all come back we maybe should keep them in their bubbles and pods because they made some excellent noise. It was like a normal match day with how they were, that’s just fantastic.
“It’s nice to hear the chants again. I’m so pleased for them, it’s early, it’s sunny, and off they can go now and have a beer and really enjoy their Saturday.”
On what it was like to walk out of the tunnel and see the supporters inside the stadium, he commented: “It’s brilliant, isn’t it. It spurs us on.
“It enables faster play and interplay, adds more of a sense of responsibility towards giving the ball away. I think it just adds atmosphere and, like any party, it needs a decent atmosphere.
“We’re a community club and I say it over and over, but we’re all in this together. It’s always good to have eyes that come in from the outside, as I did in November, and I could see that we needed to try to unite the players to the supporters.
“We needed to think about the way we talk to each other, and when we talk to the media, because we are always representing our community. People will buy into us if we work hard, so we’ve got to do it.”
And on the club being chosen as a test game, he told us: “Personally I am worried about a lockdown, because I listen to the national news but, as a football club today, it’s from start to finish been an absolutely unbelievable, superb exercise, both on and off the pitch.
“You can’t argue with that. In terms of moving forwards from it, we’ve got to take small steps, but we’re very fortunate at Carlisle to have an 18,000 stadium and the home crowds don’t normally meet that.
“It would be much more difficult for smaller clubs who can’t possibly do this. We’re not in that position, which is maybe why we were chosen, I’m not sure.”
With the financial implications of not having fans at football matches, he admitted that it had realigned his thinking when it came to recruitment.
“It put massive pressure on David [Holdsworth and myself to recruit well,” he confirmed. “It was difficult talking to players because we’ve offered, you could argue, pre-pandemic contracts.
“It separates players who want to play, or are holding out for the extra so much per week, and there’s lots of players still available that aren’t attached that have been very good in the Football League.
“People like Alan [McCormack] then decide to commit at this point, when the season’s started. We decided to try and do it the other way. We wanted players that wanted to be here, because we want to connect with the community.”
But is there still room to add more before the transfer window closes midway through October?
“I said a week or so ago that change will probably come from an injury situation,” he said. “Whatever we do we’ve got to make sure the club is strong enough to survive if the virus situation worsens.
“We are speaking to people, the door isn’t closed by any means on new faces coming in, but we want to make sure we get the right character and attitude.
“The window is still open for a good few weeks yet, time is on our side, so who knows? If the right situation crops up we could have something by the weekend, or we might wait, it isn’t something we need to rush along with.”
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