0 Carlisle pitch perfect and preparing for emotional return home after floods

The Cumbrians will return to Brunton Park on Saturday for the first time since the floods and will be celebrating a plum FA Cup tie if they can beat Yeovil

Carlisle UnitedOn Saturday it will be 49 days since Desmond did its worst and, with Mitchell having overseen the complex task of laying a brand new pitch in mid-winter, Brunton Park will welcome York City for a League Two fixture - its first game since the floods. If staff are disappointed that one of the club's two prized goldfish is still missing, no one will care that the ground's temporary catering and toilet facilities are not quite up to their usual high standards.

After weeks devoted to a massive clean-up operation, there promises to be quite a party atmosphere. This mood would be heightened appreciably should Keith Curle's side win Tuesday night's FA Cup replay at Yeovil and be looking forward to entertaining Everton in a fourth- round tie preceded by the rumble of broadcast trucks trundling down Warwick Road.

A main artery leading into the city centre, the road on which Carlisle United is situated, was particularly badly affected by December's floods. Today many local homeowners still face months of upheaval and wrangling with insurance companies after being forced to vacate badly damaged properties.

The past few, vexing weeks have seen the bond between club and locals strengthen appreciably with Curle leading teams of players on missions to help homeowners shift sodden carpets and ruined furniture. Despite Carlisle being forced to play recent home fixtures more than 90 miles down the road in Lancashire, fans have travelled south in force to watch them compete on borrowed grounds at Blackburn, Preston and Blackpool.

"Saturday will be quite emotional," says Suzanne Kidd, the club's finance director. "You get a bit choked up just thinking about it. The floods are something that you hope never, ever, happens again but being part of it all has created something special around here. We've all come out of it a bit closer to each other. The players all wanted to get out and help people in the local community."

For the full article, visit www.theguardian.com.

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