Mike: Cumbrians’ desire will Raynes on Everton parade
MICHAEL Raynes knows firsthand the disruption caused by Storm Desmond last month, and the Carlisle United defender is hoping to see his adopted city unite behind the Cumbrians today.
When the severe weather hit the north-west, thousands of homes were damaged by flooding, including the 28year-old’s.
With his family based back in Manchester, Raynes had been living in club-owned lodgings with team-mates Joe Thompson, Jason Kennedy, Luke Joyce and Charlie Wyke until the storm arrived.
In the eight weeks since, United have played three ‘home’ games elsewhere, including an FA Cup penalty shoot-out triumph over Yeovil at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road.
That set up this afternoon’s fourth round clash with Premier League Everton and Raynes, pictured
right, is hoping the hosts can bring some much-needed cheer to the city.
“We have all been in B&Bs since the day of the floods,” he said. “The club obviously took priority in getting the stadium up to scratch but they have been great to us.
“As footballers, we’re used to living out of a suitcase anyway! We are getting really well looked after so it has been fine, but for others it has completely turned their lives around.
“All of the lads wanted to get out into the community to do what we can. It was really strange because you were in people’s houses which had been completely turned upside down and while we were helping to rip up carpets and things like that, all they wanted to do was talk about football, which just shows how much Carlisle means to this community. “I don’t think many people will have witnessed that level of devastation first hand and it was really bad to see. Even now it has still not been cleared and the damage was massive.
“Hopefully this has brought everyone together and we want to go out there on Sunday and put a smile back on everyone’s faces.”
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with York City saw United return to Brunton Park for the first time and onto a newly-laid pitch, in front of their biggest home following of the season.
Now a sell-out crowd of more than 17,000 will welcome Everton – who narrowly missed out on booking their place in the Capital One Cup final this week.
The Cumbrians have already shown they can hold their own with a Merseyside giant, after almost ending Liverpool’s Capital One Cup progression at the third round stage in September, taking the Reds to penalties.
And Raynes is excited to test himself against the best once again.
He added: “After the game on Saturday we were walking back to our cars and you could see the people queuing for tickets.
“I have been getting phone calls all week and the tension is starting to build now. I am really excited for it.
“I think I was two the last time they had around 17,000 in the ground.You don’t get full stadiums in League Two very often and you don’t get many chances in your career to play a Premier League team, so it will be a big occasion.”
SUBMERGED: Carlisle’s Brunton Park after the recent Storm Desmond