With the fixture list now confirmed, here’s a look at how far the Blues will have to go, and when, in 2023/24…
THE LONG HAUL
Overall it is a season of 10,296 miles for the Cumbrians to complete their league fixtures.
Added to that are at least two more cup games, since United are away in the Carabao Cup first round (at Harrogate Town) and will have an away game in their EFL Trophy group too (against either Harrogate or Accrington Stanley).
Throw in the FA Cup, any replays and any potential progress in the Carabao or Trophy, and the miles will stack up further for Paul Simpson’s side.
Last season they needed to put in an overall round trip of 9,520 miles to fulfil their League Two calendar.
With cups and play-off games also thrown in, the total mileage came to 11,257.
League One is more southern-heavy in 2023/24 and this is reflected by the fact that some relatively long trips for Carlisle are nowhere near the top of their list for miles.
For instance, Peterborough United – 226.5 miles away – is only their 13th longest trip. Cheltenham Town – 238 miles away – is their 12th longest.
Ahead of those venues are the longer hauls of Portsmouth (the longest of all at 350.9 miles), Exeter City, Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient, Reading, Wycombe Wanderers, Stevenage, Bristol Rovers, Oxford United, Cambridge United and Northampton Town.
The longest of the travelling commitments for United and their fans are at least reasonably well spaced out in their fixture list, though – similar to last season – there is a cluster of recurring long trips late in the campaign.
Between February 24 and April 27 (the final day), Carlisle must go to Bristol Rovers, Charlton, Shrewsbury, Peterborough, Northampton and Derby.
No derbies among that lot, so to speak. The Charlton and Shrewsbury jaunts come on consecutive weekends, as do the Peterborough and Northampton trips.
Further back in the season, there is an away double-header that will reacquaint team and fans with the motorway network for some time: Portsmouth on October 21, and Cambridge on October 28.
Others occur with more of a gap in between. Carlisle’s first away game of the league season is a long one, to Oxford on August 12, and the next one isn’t until September 9’s drive to Stevenage. Late September (the 30th) brings another, to Wycombe and, after October’s journeys, November 28 sends them to Reading on a Tuesday night.
That is the last of Carlisle’s long hauls in 2023. 2024 has the potential of an early mission to Exeter, on January 6, though FA Cup third round involvement for either would change that. They go to Cheltenham on January 20 and Orient on February 3, and come the end of that month they’ll find themselves ticking off the long trips with a little more regularity.
THE SHORT HOPS
Carlisle have had a decent run of home games on Boxing Day so perhaps it was inevitable they’d be filling the team coach this time.
At least the fixture list has served them with their shortest trip possible for December 26’s away day.
Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium will be visited by the Blues, and no doubt as many travelling fans as the hosts can accommodate, that afternoon after a trip of just 93.6 miles.
December itself packs in three of Carlisle’s four shortest journeys in the space of 21 days.
Those hoping for sunnier times for the much-anticipated trip to Blackpool (99.1 miles) were left disappointed that December 9 came out of the fixture machine.
All the same – Bloomfield Road looks likely to be one of the busiest away days for Carlisle supporters.
Then comes Fleetwood, and three days later it’s a first visit to Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium on December 29: likely to be another festive magnet for Blues fans (105.1 miles).
The other trip out of the shortest four comes sooner, in October, when Carlisle fans get to experience Bolton Wanderers’ Toughsheet Community Stadium for the first time (103.2 miles), having been denied the chance in 2021 because of Covid.
One of League One’s more impressive grounds will echo to a great many United voices on October 7.
Barnsley’s Oakwell, last visited by the Blues in 2019’s Carabao Cup, is the fifth-shortest trip at 144.7 miles, and the Tykes host Carlisle and their supporters on November 18.
Port Vale is next shortest, and that trip falls early, on August 26. At a decent 181 miles, Lincoln City is United’s seventh shortest trip, also coming early in the campaign on September 16.
IN THE MIDDLE
There’s rarely much middle ground for Carlisle when it comes to travelling.
Of the trips that won’t tax them too much, relatively, speaking, there is the journey to Burton Albion at 185.9 miles – though that’s a Tuesday night game, on February 13.
The last day of the season sends United on a 193.4-mile trip to Derby County’s Pride Park.
Shrewsbury Town’s Croud Meadow, at 188.5 miles, pops up on March 16.
UNITED’S LONGEST LEAGUE ONE TRIPS AND WHEN THEY OCCUR*
1 PORTSMOUTH – 350.9 miles – October 21
2 EXETER CITY – 347.2 miles – January 6
3 CHARLTON ATHLETIC – 315 miles – March 9
4 LEYTON ORIENT – 309 miles – February 3
5 READING – 306.6 miles – November 28
6 WYCOMBE WANDERERS – 288 miles – September 30
7 STEVENAGE – 272.4 miles – September 9
8 BRISTOL ROVERS – 272.3 miles – February 24
9 OXFORD UNITED – 271.8 miles – August 12
10 CAMBRIDGE UNITED – 260.8 miles – October 28
11 NORTHAMPTON TOWN – 242.3 miles – April 6
12 CHELTENHAM TOWN – 238 miles – January 20
13 PETERBOROUGH UNITED – 226.5 miles – March 29
14 DERBY COUNTY – 193.4 miles – April 27
15 SHREWSBURY TOWN – 188.5 miles – March 16
16 BURTON ALBION – 185.9 miles – February 13
17 LINCOLN CITY – 181 miles – September 16
18 PORT VALE – 152.6 miles – August 26
19 BARNSLEY – 144.7 miles – November 18
20 WIGAN ATHLETIC – 105.1 miles – December 29
21 BOLTON WANDERERS – 103.2 miles – October 7
22 BLACKPOOL – 99.1 miles – December 9
23 FLEETWOOD TOWN – 93.6 miles – December 26
*Mileage figures: AA