Our recent official website player interviews have all revealed a theme – absolutely nobody at the club is taking anything for granted.
Games in hand, momentum, points-per-game ... none of it gains any purchase when thrown in as a question with it being made clear in response that nothing has yet been achieved at this still early stage of the season.
But with teams around us missing out on the opportunity to open up a gap at the top of the table as we sat patiently in waiting, we were convinced that the many league table pages on offer across the t’interweb would be regularly visited by a dressing room eager to get back into the action.
However, defender Aaron Hayden was the latest to insist that simply isn’t the case.
“I deleted the scores app I had on my phone,” he told us. “I’ve stopped looking at the league table because right now it doesn’t matter.
“We’ve still got 23 games left to play and the table will change so much in the next few months. I’ll probably put the app back on my phone when there’s five games or so left, because that’s when it really matters.
“Of course we talk about how we’re doing in our group chat and things like that. A few lads will ask if we’ve seen a certain result, but overall I think we understand that the only thing that really matters is what we do on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
“You can’t change the league table by looking at it, you can only change it by winning games. I’m sure it’s great for the fans to look at and see the mathematical advantage we could have, but we have to turn it into a physical advantage. It’s down to us to give the club that physical advantage.
“Every team has 46 games, so for me, there’s no actual games in hand. Every team has to play that number of fixtures by the end of the season to see who’s the winner. The only difference is that we’ll play more in a shorter space of time, but we’ll deal with that.”
“Yes, it’s been tough to be at home the last few weeks when other teams have played,” he added. “It’s been the weather and Covid, and there’s a lot of people suffering with it.
“We’re fortunate that we haven’t had anyone suffering too badly with it or pass away from it. We’ve got to consider ourselves lucky to be in the position we’re in.
“It’s down to ourselves to keep ourselves fit when we’re not playing, which we have been. The gaffer had the bike brought over for me and Omari during that Covid lockdown we had, and that was great.”
Also much talked about this season is the community feeling that has grown, almost from the first moment this group came together.
“It’s amazing and it’s crucial,” he commented. “The supporters, I don’t like to say fans because we’re all one family here, are so important.
“Without that family inside the club and with the supporters there is no club. Putting back into that community is the most important thing, and it gives me a feeling of real pride and satisfaction to be able to donate to Rhys’ Twitch stream and chat to the fans, or collect food for the people who need it most.
“It’s such a sense of satisfaction when you connect with people and they appreciate what you’re doing. It makes you want to work even harder for them.
“I take great pleasure from it because I know things are tough for a lot of people right now. A lot of people will be sitting indoors bored, which can be very tough on the mind. If we can put a smile on their faces a couple of times a week and they can sit down and enjoy watching us play, it just feels really nice.
“Hopefully soon the vaccine will be given to everyone so we can get them back in Brunton Park with us. I was rewatching a game from last season the other day and it felt like an age ago to see them in the stadium. I can’t wait to have them back.”
And the popular centre back added to his growing legion of fans when a simple act of kindness became the social media story of the day during the first of our most recent snowy spells.
“Well, it started off, I’ve got a little baby and at the entrance to my house there are some concrete steps,” he revealed. “It was very icy at the time. I saw there was a little yellow grit box and I filled my shovel and bucket so that I could the stairs that lead up to my door.
“As I finished, I looked out down the road and I was like, you know what, I can’t just do my own and go inside. It didn’t sit right with me. I went and got some more grit and then started doing outside Omari’s house, down the road, and I kind of got addicted to doing it.
“I went and got more grit and I think I refilled it about seven times. By the end of half an hour I’d done the whole block. A few people came out of their houses, but I didn’t know anyone really noticed.
“It just felt nice to know if there was an old lady walking down the street there was more chance of her staying on her feet and not slipping. I nearly slipped a couple of times getting into my car. If that was an old lady she wasn’t going to recover, and doing what I did was no sweat off my back.
“It’s nice to know people appreciated it but I just see myself as a normal person. I do see myself as a Carlisle player, but when I’m off the pitch I’m just a normal person. When I’m on the pitch I’m a Carlisle player.”
And not just a Carlisle player, but also the club’s vice-captain.
“You know what, I’ve really enjoyed the extra responsibility,” he confirmed. “I was interested to see how I would react myself to it. In the past I’ve known I’m a leader and I’ve known it’s inside me, but when you’re not a vice-captain or a captain you just don’t know.
“But when you do get given that job, you know you have to be making sure that things are right within the team. I think I’ve relished that, it’s brought the best out of me, my leadership.
“I’ve been really enjoying it, it’s been great working with Nick, everyone, Farms, Benno, Rod, Dean Furman – honestly, Dean Furman’s excellent in terms of his leadership in the group, making sure everyone’s ok.
“His attitude is exemplary for our squad. He doesn’t play every week, but he never bats an eyelid, never turns his nose up at anyone. Even though he is disappointed, and we know he is, he’s still there supporting everyone.
“The way he trains, he’s a top professional. He trains like he’s playing, with the same motivation and passion. Dean Furman – excellent, exemplary player for us.
“How can you not learn from people like that? I try and improve every day. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the finished product. It’s all about improving. The minute you stop improving you start decreasing. It’s all about me trying to maximise my potential, which is unlimited, really. It’s down to me what I can achieve.”
“Rhys Bennett is another,” he added. “I love playing next to him. I learn so much from his calmness and composure, which is something I’m trying to add to my game. He sees the game in slow motion compared to everyone else which is great to watch and learn from.
“He’s also a great lad to have around the place, he’s always positive and he’s got a very calm head. When something goes wrong or we lose a game, he just tells us that nothing changes, we’ve just got to keep doing the right things.
“We’ve set such a high standard in the first half of the season, so anybody who comes into the team knows they have to keep that up. Jack Armer knows that George Tanner was playing so well, and he’s done excellently when he’s come into the team.
“We haven’t lost anything in that department, he’s been a real credit to himself as a young lad coming into such a physical league. I think I’ve really seen him develop over the past few weeks as a player and a man.
“We now have just about everybody out on the pitch talking and advising. Farms is so loud, during the whole game I feel like I can always hear him talking. He’s always in my ear, keeping me on my toes or making sure I’m side on and ready for a ball over the top and things like that.
“It makes his job and our job easier, and the most important thing is that it makes the team better. Communication is such an important part of the game, the more talking the better.
“We know we can play well together and it’s now a case of getting back to it, working hard, and seeing where that takes us.”