Huntington signs for Carlisle

Carlisle United have signed experienced defender Paul Huntington on a free transfer after he was released by Preston North End earlier this summer. The 34-year-old has joined the League Two outfit on a one-year deal. Huntington is a Carlisle fan and played for their academy when he was younger.

Carlisle manager Paul Simpson is delighted with the signing.

“I’m really chuffed that we’ve got this one done,” Simpson said.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted a senior player to come in at the back, and the truth is that this has been a long process to get us to this point.

“I wanted him to be my first signing, if I’m going to be really honest, but I’ve had to be patient. I’ve bided my time and thankfully that’s paid off for us.

“I’m going to give the credit to Paul for getting this one going again because he came to our game against Crawley and, after that, he got back in touch to let us know that he’d loved the atmosphere the fans were creating and he’d liked the way we were playing.

“He said that he really wanted to be part of it and we took it from there. I’m now looking forward to getting him fully up to speed in terms of his match and football fitness. Once we get him there, he’ll be out on the grass and hopefully doing a great job for us.”

Paul Huntington was also very happy to get the move completed.

“Being born here and supported the club, I suppose it does feel strange to be here,” said Huntington. “I’m just getting used to new surroundings and it will probably take a few weeks to sink in and get used to my new teammates.

“I was at Preston for ten years and you start to feel like part of the furniture, so it’s different coming to a new club. I think this is what I need, a new challenge.

“I know a lot of people who follow the club, which comes with pressure, but I’ve had that all my career in different ways. I made a lot of friends at Preston so it isn’t too dissimilar, but this is my hometown club and I’m looking forward to getting fit, then getting in the team.”

Huntington started his professional football career at Premier League club Newcastle United. He made his appearance in professional football and for the Magpies in December 2006. Huntington came on as a late substitute in a 3-1 win away at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

He would go onto to start Newcastle’s following 9 leagues matches and he would score his first only top flight goal to date in this run. The goal came in a 3-2 win away Tottenham Hotspur in January 2007.

Despite breaking into Newcastle’s first team in the 2006/07 season, Huntington was sold at the end of the season after making 16 appearances for the club.

Huntington joined League One club Leeds United in August 2007. In the second half of the 2007/08 season, he manged to hold down a place in the Whites defence and helped them to finish in the ply-off places despite the club being docked 15 points. Leeds went on to lose to Doncaster Rovers in the play-off final, Huntington played all 90 minutes in the final as well as both legs of the semi-final.

In the 2008/09 season, Huntington struggled with injury and only played 7 matches and left the club on loan at the start of the 2009/10 season.

He joined fellow League One club Stockport County on loan in the first half of the season and joined them permanently at the start of 2010.

At the end of the 2009/10 season, Huntington was on the move again. He joined another League One club, Yeovil Town, on a 2-year deal.

Across the next 2 seasons, Huntington made 85 appearances for the Glovers. He rejected a new contract from the club at the end of the 11/12 season and left on a free transfer.

Huntington remained in League One again and joined Preston North End. He would spend the next 10 years at the lilywhites and helped them win promotion back to the Championship.

Preston won the League One play-off final in the 2014/15 season, ending a 4-year exile from the second tier. This was a very successful season for Huntington as well because he was named as the clubs’ player of the year.

Across the next few seasons, Huntington helped Preston become a competitive Championship team.

In his 10-year spell at Preston, Huntington made 306 appearances, scoring 18 goals and laying on 6 assists.

Huntington could make his Carlisle debut in this weekend’s home match against Swindon. The Cumbrians have won 4 points from their opening 2 league matches.