Paul Huntington: from Carlisle junior football to joining the Blues

·3-min read
Paul Huntington celebrates a goal for Trinity School in their English Schools FA Under 18s Trophy final victory at Brunton Park in 2004 (photo: Jonathan Becker)
Paul Huntington celebrates a goal for Trinity School in their English Schools FA Under 18s Trophy final victory at Brunton Park in 2004 (photo: Jonathan Becker)

Paul Huntington has come full circle to Carlisle United, having started his football journey in the city.

The defender, who has today signed for the Blues, made his name as a young player in Carlisle before carving his professional career elsewhere.

News and Star: Paul Hungington, back row second right, with the Yewdale Pegasus under-12 side
News and Star: Paul Hungington, back row second right, with the Yewdale Pegasus under-12 side

Paul Hungington, back row second right, with the Yewdale Pegasus under-12 side

Huntington played junior football for Yewdale Pegasus, helping the side to success at under-10 level, victory in the Penrith and District under-12 league and also to the county cup final.

News and Star: Huntington, back row fourth left, with a Carlisle junior side that played at Wembley in 1999
News and Star: Huntington, back row fourth left, with a Carlisle junior side that played at Wembley in 1999

Huntington, back row fourth left, with a Carlisle junior side that played at Wembley in 1999

News and Star: Huntington, front third left with trophy, with Kingmoor Junior School's team
News and Star: Huntington, front third left with trophy, with Kingmoor Junior School's team

Huntington, front third left with trophy, with Kingmoor Junior School's team

Huntington went to Kingmoor Junior School in the city and, as captain, helped them win the Carlisle and District Cup as well as a Carlisle Schools six-a-side tournament.

News and Star: Huntington, back row second left, with the Kingmoor Junior School team who won a Carlisle Schools six-a-side tournament
News and Star: Huntington, back row second left, with the Kingmoor Junior School team who won a Carlisle Schools six-a-side tournament

Huntington, back row second left, with the Kingmoor Junior School team who won a Carlisle Schools six-a-side tournament

Huntington went on to attend Trinity School, where he excelled in sports other than just football...

News and Star: Huntington, back third left, with a Trinity School cricket team
News and Star: Huntington, back third left, with a Trinity School cricket team

Huntington, back third left, with a Trinity School cricket team

But the young defender was clearly earmarked for a future in soccer and, in 2004, captained Trinity to national success in the English Schools under-18 trophy.

News and Star: Huntington, back fifth left, with the Trinity team in 2004
News and Star: Huntington, back fifth left, with the Trinity team in 2004

Huntington, back fifth left, with the Trinity team in 2004

Their campaign in '04 culminated with extra-time victory in the national final over Neal-Wade Community College at Brunton Park.

News and Star: Huntington in action in the 2004 final for Trinity School
News and Star: Huntington in action in the 2004 final for Trinity School

Huntington in action in the 2004 final for Trinity School

Huntington was signed up by Newcastle United as a junior, and went on to come through the ranks at St James' Park.

News and Star: Huntington in his early years at Newcastle
News and Star: Huntington in his early years at Newcastle

Huntington in his early years at Newcastle

In 2005, his progress at Newcastle saw Huntington rewarded with the 'Wor Jackie' trophy which is given to the rising star at the club each year.

News and Star: Huntington with dad David, right, and Peter Beardsley, after receiving the 'Wor Jackie' trophy in 2005
News and Star: Huntington with dad David, right, and Peter Beardsley, after receiving the 'Wor Jackie' trophy in 2005

Huntington with dad David, right, and Peter Beardsley, after receiving the 'Wor Jackie' trophy in 2005

News and Star: Huntington with his Wor Jacke trophy and his Newcastle first-team shirt
News and Star: Huntington with his Wor Jacke trophy and his Newcastle first-team shirt

Huntington with his Wor Jacke trophy and his Newcastle first-team shirt

Huntington made his first-team debut for Newcastle in December 2006, and went on to play 16 games for the Magpies, scoring in a Premier League victory at Tottenham aged 19.

News and Star: Huntington with Newcastle's Peter Ramage
News and Star: Huntington with Newcastle's Peter Ramage

Huntington with Newcastle's Peter Ramage

He moved on to Leeds United in 2007, and made 32 appearances for the Elland Road club.

News and Star: Huntington in action for Leeds
News and Star: Huntington in action for Leeds

Huntington in action for Leeds

His time with Leeds included games against Carlisle United in the 2007/8 season, with Huntington attracting criticism for celebrating a Leeds goal in front of travelling Blues fans at Elland Road. He also faced United in that season's League One play-offs.

After a loan spell with Stockport County in 2009, Huntington joined the Hatters permanently, before a move to Yeovil Town in 2010 further kickstarted his first-team career.

He captained the Glovers and made 85 appearances across two impressive campaigns in Somerset.

News and Star: Huntington impressed in two years at Yeovil
News and Star: Huntington impressed in two years at Yeovil

Huntington impressed in two years at Yeovil

That earned him a move to Preston North End in 2012 - starting a ten-year spell at Deepdale.

Huntington became a highly respected player at the Lancashire club, his highlights including a goal in their 2015 League One play-off final victory over Swindon Town.

News and Star: Huntington celebrates his play-off final goal for Preston in 2015
News and Star: Huntington celebrates his play-off final goal for Preston in 2015

Huntington celebrates his play-off final goal for Preston in 2015

He made 306 appearances for Preston in the third and second tiers, and was dubbed 'the Cumbrian Cannavaro' by fans.

When it was announced he was leaving the club this summer, it was confirmed that a testimonial was in the offing for the defender at Deepdale.

Now 34, and having settled back in his home city with his young family, Huntington will wear the blue shirt of Carlisle United after signing a one-year deal with Paul Simpson's squad.

News and Star: Huntington signs for Carlisle. Photo: Amy Nixon
News and Star: Huntington signs for Carlisle. Photo: Amy Nixon

Huntington signs for Carlisle. Photo: Amy Nixon