Storm Desmond made international news as it ripped through the heart of Cumbria last month.
Rescue teams from as far away as Cornwall, and even the armed forces, were drafted in to assist with the rescue operation of residents.
As well as those official security services, the players of Carlisle United, including striker Charlie Wyke, were also on hand to help the local community in the clean up operation, as many had the job of trying to save their possessions.
You only had to see images of the League Two side’s Brunton Park stadium, which was virtually under water, to see how bad it was for those living in the area.
Now with things gradually getting back to some kind of normality, Wyke and his team-mates can fully focus on what is a promising season for the club.
Sitting a point adrift of the play-offs, but with games in hand over many of their rivals for a top-seven finish, Keith Curle’s men are well in the race for promotion to League One.
And with a possible FA Cup tie against Everton at a re-laid Brunton Park to come – if they can defeat Yeovil Town in a third round replay – it’s exciting times after a difficult period for United and the community.
As well as the club, it’s also been a good season for Wyke, who since making his first permanent move away from Middlesbrough in the summer has scored eight times in all competitions.
Shoot’s Harry Cardno spoke exclusively to the forward about what has already been his best season to date, the club’s promotion push and how Storm Desmond has helped bring the club and the community closer together.
How has Storm Desmond affected the team’s morale?
“It has brought us together, we’ve had to work hard and play our home games at different stadiums every week. So it’s a bit difficult to play our home games as away games, but we’ve just got to get on with it.”
Who suggested to go out and help with those affected by the floods?
“There wasn’t one person who didn’t want to help the local people and that bought all the lads closer straightaway. Danny Grainger, the captain, said it and then as soon as he suggested it all the boys just jumped on it and we all wanted to help.”
Does it also put into perspective how important life is in comparison to football?
“When you see the damage that has been done, especially when it’s Carlisle United supporters who come and see us each week, you forget about football and focus on what is really important. It wasn’t nice but everyone who had their houses flooded were still in good spirits, which was good to see. We were also winning a few games whilst it was happening so it put a few smiles on the faces of the supporters living in the affected areas.”
What’s one memory you have of helping people in the floods?
“When we first walked into one of the houses, I asked him what it has been like and he straightaway said ‘It has not been too bad and I’m not really bothered, I still have my Carlisle season tickets. As soon as the floods started coming in I grabbed my tickets from the fridge and didn’t save anything else’. It was amazing to hear that considering what he’s been but it shows how tough the people are up here.”
What has it been like playing at home at places such as Blackburn, Preston and Blackpool?
“It has been odd because it has felt like playing away. But it has been good experience playing in good stadiums. We’re not too disheartened but it has put a stop to us winning games recently. Everyone is just looking forward to getting back home to Brunton Park now.”
With Everton waiting in the fourth round, how determined are you and the team to overcome the challenge of Yeovil in your FA Cup replay at Huish Park?
“It’s obviously a big game with the prospect of playing Everton. It’s potentially a big game and there’s going to be a lot of fans there. It will bring in a lot of money for the club to pay for some of the damages that have happened in Carlisle and at Brunton Park. But before that we have to see off Yeovil first, so we will go down there with a positive attitude and look to get a positive result.”
Although you weren’t involved, the squad must be desperate to test themselves against top opposition again after taking Liverpool all the way to penalties at Anfield earlier this season?
“It gives us a lot of confidence because we have shown we can have a go at the big teams. We gave them a good game and pushed them all the way. But, as I said, we have just got to go down to Yeovil first, play our natural game and hopefully things will fall for us.”
How did you feel to miss out with injury on that occasion?
“I was devastated at first because it would have probably have been the biggest game of my career so far. But now I have the chance to potentially play Everton if we win the replay. I also know other opportunities will come my way in the future so I can’t be too disheartened.”
Yourself and Jabo Ibehre you have scored a combined total of 22 goals this season. How important is your partnership to Carlisle’s promotion chances?
“It’s not just us. The whole team are contributing with goals. The important thing for us is making sure everyone just stays fit. Having said that, Jabo is a good player to play with. He’s a little bit older than me so I am learning stuff from him and applying that to my game, which I think has been paying off this season.”
You appear to be having the best season of your career so far. Is this down to the fact you’ve found a permanent home away from Middlesbrough?
“When you’re at a club like Middlesbrough you always have something to fall back on and I think you can take things for granted a little bit. I went to places like Hartlepool and Wimbledon, on loan, and you know that you will only be there for about two months before signing with another team again. That’s different once you move down the leagues on a permanent basis. I’m glad and happy to be at Carlisle. I’ve earned my place now and I just have to continue working hard to keep it.”
Do you still look out for Middlesbrough’s results?
“Yes I do because they’re my hometown club. I spent a lot of good years there and I always hope they do well. It looks like they are going to go up to the Premier League this season, which is great.”
How much would it mean to Carlisle and the community to gain promotion?
“I think it would be a massive achievement with all that’s happened and we want to do it for the fans to repay all the hard work that’s gone on. We’ve got to be realistic in our chances of making the play-offs, but it is certainly possible if we continue working hard and find that consistency we had a couple of months ago.”
Dream Car? – Lamborghini Aventador
Favourite player? – Lionel Messi
Favourite food? – Nando’s Chicken
Favourite holiday? – Las Vegas
Music you’re listening to at the moment? – Justin Bieber