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Tribute to Andrew Jenkins

The Carlisle United Supporters’ Club London Branch was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of United’s Chairman Emeritus Andrew Jenkins when the news was released by the club on Wednesday afternoon.

Branch chairman Dave Brown Said: “Andrew’s passion for Carlisle United was clear to all and his support for the club was unswerving. He was a good friend to the London Branch and made himself available to us whenever we asked.

“It is a relief that he was able to see a strong and secure future for the club before his sad passing.”

Committee member and club SLO Simon Clarkson said: “Andrew was simply Mr Carlisle United. It is only as I became involved in the memorabilia collection at the club that I have seen and heard from others of the significant impact he made.


Presentation by John Gorman

“My various fan roles at the club gave me the privilege to speak to him regularly and he always had a tale to tell. We should be eternally grateful for everything Andrew did for the club. He was a truly remarkable man.”

Andrew, 87, was part of the fabric of the club and was a name instantly recognisable and associated with the Cumbrians across the EFL, and beyond, having first joined the Blues as director at the tender of age of 23 (making him the youngest person to hold such a position in the Football League), back in 1959.
His destiny was perhaps set in stone some 14 years earlier than that when, as an eight-year-old lad, he found himself at a loose end and getting in the way. One of his dad’s employees had a sudden flash of inspiration when he pointed in the direction of Brunton Park and suggested that he might enjoy an afternoon of football. 

Andrew Jenkins with former captain Peter McConnell.jpg

With former captain Peter McConnell

“We must have been getting on this man’s nerves, so he told us to go onto Warwick Road and follow the crowd,” the chairman said whilst recounting the tale recently. “I can’t remember who we played but that was it, I wanted to go all the time.
“I just remember it being really exciting, I hadn’t experienced anything like it before with the crowds and the noise, and that was the start of me being a Carlisle United fan.
“My clearest memory from those early days is from a Christmas fixture just after the war where we beat Barrow 4-1. Ivor Broadis was playing, he scored, and it was one of those days when everybody in the crowd was behind the team and the atmosphere was electric.

“There was a spell when I attended Boarding School, so I wasn’t able to watch them as much, but I used to nip out without anyone knowing every now and then so that I could get my football fix. Sometimes that was for reserve games, I was that keen to see them play!”

Another period where following the Blues was a tad trickier was during his two-year period of National Service - something he was very proud to have done.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the army,” he admitted. “Even the stuff where you’re marching up and down the square for hours on end because somebody had decided you were being lazy, I thought it was really good.

“There was a sense of all being in it together and it did teach you about the need to work as a unit and trust each other, about organising things and planning for every outcome, and all kinds of important things that you don’t even realise you’re learning.

“It was a good two years, and there’s a bit of me that wishes that I’d maybe stayed on and done a few more. Who knows, I didn’t do that in the end, and when I got out of the mob I was certainly kept busy anyway.”

His introduction to the inner workings of the club came as something of a surprise when his dad first discussed the possibility of a directorship for himself before turning the offer down when it eventually came his way.

“My father ran the kiosks and did the catering and he‘d been thinking about joining the board for a while,” Andrew explained. “In the end, when the chance came, he decided it wasn’t for him.

“But he spoke to George Sheffield [chairman at the time] and mentioned that I was a big fan, and they agreed that my name could be put forward.

“The first I knew about it was when Mr Sheffield phoned me. He told me during that first conversation that it would be good to have some fresh ideas from a younger board member and, even though I was a bit nervous, I jumped at the chance.”

Although openly welcomed, he did admit to a sense that his youth was seen as a barrier for some of the members on the board.

“It wasn’t always easy,” he revealed. “I came from a catering background, and those around me couldn’t really relate to that. They were, of course, much older than me and probably felt more experienced.

“I had to take my time to ease myself in, there was a lot placed on being respectful back in those days, and I quickly started to feel that I could add something.

“I got myself settled by concentrating on my own specialities, and I was part of a number of small committees set up by the board. I think we all started to make really positive steps forward after that.”

AJ 1959.jpg

It was early in November 1959 that he took his first seat at the table and little did he know, at that time, that it would be the start of a journey that would bring 10 promotions, 10 relegations, five Wembley appearances (one of which was the recent play-off final success) and two outings at the Millennium Stadium as part of a record-making six appearances in the EFL Trophy final – many of these moments and occasions enjoyed during his time as chairman of the club, and as co-owner. 

And, away from the headline grabbing stuff, the summer months through the years witnessed Andrew and his fellow directors take on everything from relaying the terraces with new railway style sleepers, and painting anything that didn’t move, to the construction of new fences and walkways in a bid to keep Brunton Park in as good a state as possible.
“That was just something we felt we should do,” he explained. “As part of those committees I mentioned we had all agreed that we had a responsibility to the club to dig in and do our bit. 

On the board in 1959

“I used to enjoy those days when we got together to muck in and, again, when whatever it was we were doing was finished you could see that it had improved things. That gave us a little bit of a sense of pride.”
It was at some point during the 1980’s (the exact words spoken by Andrew in his response to the question – when did you actually become chairman?) that he took over the helm and the seat at the top of the table, and he admitted to having a tear in his eye, or at least a lump in his throat, for every one of our big final appearances.
“That play-off final win over Stockport was incredible,” he said. “Watching Taylor [Charters] score so confidently and the emotions we all felt afterwards, it was nice. 
“Obviously we knew that the new owners were about to take it on as well, so it just felt good to have the season end on such a positive note. The new owners have incredible plans for the club, and we’re getting on in years now, so it’s massively exciting for all of us.
“Talking about tears, I had to wipe quite a few away when we played Birmingham at Wembley in 1995. I think the crowd (around the 76,000 mark) was bigger than the attendance the England game got the same week, and watching the team walk out for our first ever game of that kind was special. Really, really special.”
Also a fond memory was a conversation he had with Greg Abbott in the wake of a Wembley defeat at the hands of an extremely strong Southampton team in 2010.
“Greg was devastated, and I remember him getting on the bus afterwards and staring at me for a long, long time,” he said. “When he eventually spoke, he said, ‘chairman, I’m so, so sorry, that wasn’t your team at all - I promise you we’ll be back next season and we’ll win it for you.’
“When we beat Brentford there the following season, he winked at me and told me that he’d told me it would happen, and I think we both really enjoyed that.”
This season, of course, the club is celebrating 50-years since it’s one and only appearance in the top-flight and, although not chairman at the time, it was still a huge achievement for ‘little old Carlisle United’ to have taken that step.
“Seeing us get promotion and then seeing us play the top teams in the country are two big memories easily up there with my proudest moments with the club,” he confirmed. “When we went up, even though we’d played all our games and we had the required points, it still wasn’t definite that it would be us.
“There was one game left with Leyton Orient going up against Aston Villa, and we had to wait for that result to find out if we were promoted or not. 
“A lot of people won’t know that we were actually invited up to the local newspaper offices to listen to the game with them. Obviously that was them thinking about the story, but it was a good thing to do and we didn’t let them down with our celebrations when the final whistle went!
“We won our first three games the following season and it was difficult to believe what we were seeing when we looked at the league table and saw it was us at the top.
“Things got more difficult after that, and I have to say that even though we went down I felt we competed in a lot of the games. We were asked at the time if we could maybe add players to the squad, but it wasn’t that easy. 
“I wouldn’t say we had nothing in terms of money, but it had to be looked after, and it turned out the players we added didn’t quite make the difference that was needed, even though I would argue that it was still a decent squad. 
“And, to be honest, signing players for big amounts and numbers wasn’t how we did it. Our responsibility was to make sure we were as good as we could be without doing things that would damage the club in the longer term.”
That was a philosophy adhered to in 2008 when, along with David Allen, John Nixon and Steven Pattison, he became co-owner of the club.
“You find with managers that they always want more, and most of the time you really want to give it to them,” he explained. “But we’ve seen on so many occasions that if you go too far, it’s the club that’s at risk. 
“There are some wonderful clubs who aren’t in the Football League any more, and some that went out of existence, that should serve as a warning for us all.
“We always made every penny we had available to the football side of things, because we wanted to support the manager and his players as much as possible. But alongside that it was also about looking after the club. 
“I suppose some people saw that as negative, I’m obviously aware of the criticism we received, but everything was done with the safety and future of the club at the forefront.”


With Manager Greg Abbott

His long and dedicated service was recognised in 2020 by the EFL when he received a Special Award and, as for the recent handover to the Castle Sports Group, he said: “We’ve been looking for the right people for a while, and we think these are the right people.
“They’re determined to take this club forward and I think they’ll be able to do things we really wanted to do, but couldn’t. I really hope everyone gets behind them. They want the best for Carlisle United and that’s what we all wanted to see and hear.” 

And this, thanks to a recent interview with the EFL, perhaps sums him up best: “Some people are in it for the glory. I’ve never thought of it like that. I just love Carlisle United.”

The London Branch sends our heartfelt and deepest condolences to the loved ones of Mr Carlisle United – he will always be remembered. 
A selection of messages taken from the Branch WhatsApp group:
Nick: Awww… what a gent.. Carlisle United for his whole life…truly devoted.

Graeme: Club giant. Club legend.

Ian: He must have taken a lot of satisfaction from the smooth transition to the Piatak family. RIP.

Macca: A real loss to all, had such a love for the club & kept it going a good few times. Absolute legend. RIP. 
Adam: The real Mr Carlisle. A very sad loss. I really hope this is marked at the Barrow game.
Ken: I met him a few times, including when the team coach drove past my house and ended up training in the park less than half a mile away. We had a good chat and he expressed his admiration for the Branch and all it did to help the club. RIP. 
Paul: Quite possible the club would have gone under without his financial support. The Piatak takeover must have been very satisfying for him. RIP. 
Howard: He once got a coach to drop him off at the pub the branch were meeting at prior to a Wimbledon game, down the original Lane. He insisted on buying everyone a drink and there were a good few of us there. Nice guy. 
Dave: His love for the club was obvious. RIP Andrew. 

Thanks to – Barbara Abbott and Mark Fuller for the images, and to the EFL for the reproduction of their quote from their recent interview with Andrew. 

Also Jon Colman/News & Star for the newspaper cutting image.

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