Carlisle’s last home game may have attracted a rare five-figure league crowd, but such attendances were par for the course in the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s, the period remembered for their climb to their greatest height.

Come the start of the seventies, United had been a second-tier side for five years, their rise spearheaded by Alan Ashman before he was succeeded by Tim Ward and then Bob Stokoe.

In the summer of 1970, Stokoe had also raided the transfer market for a couple of players who would make a significant mark on the Blues’ fortunes: £20,000 West Brom winger Dennis Martin, and the promising Celtic left-back, John Gorman.

These, along with Chester midfielder Mike Sutton – father of Norwich, Blackburn and Celtic striker Chris and United striker John – joined what had already become a positive blend, featuring the majestic Chris Balderstone in midfield and the enduring Allan Ross in goal.

Another significant performer was Stan Ternent, who began the new campaign in controversial fashion. A clash with Birmingham’s Bob Latchford in United’s first home game had brought a red card for the feisty Ternent.

Carlisle’s vice-captain later recalled the incident in his autobiography. “I may have butted him, he may have butted me,” Ternent wrote. “I was man enough to walk away. Latchford rolled around like Lassie begging for a biscuit.”

It led to a Football Association disciplinary hearing, but this went in Ternent’s favour, and he was able to maintain an ever-present league season against Swindon. The Robins’ September visit brought former Blues favourite Stan Harland back to Brunton Park but it was the home line-up that had the edge in front of 10,070 supporters.

That following had to wait for a tight contest to break into full life. The goalless first half was mostly notable for outbreaks of skill from Swindon’s England Under-23 international Don Rogers, with little else of note.

As things unfolded, though, it was Carlisle’s teamwork that trumped the Wiltshire team’s individual traits – even after the Blues had gone behind.

The goal that sparked things came in the 51st minute. The influential Rogers sent in a goalbound shot which cannoned off team-mate Peter Noble, who was lying flat out after a challenge. It wrongfooted Ross and Brunton Park watched aghast as the ball rolled into the net.

This, though, had a galvanising effect on United. At the heart of their positive response was striker Bob Hatton, and a relentless period of attacking made its mark on 57 minutes.

Hatton supplied the crucial delivery, which was won in the air by Bobby Owen and met nine yards out by the lurking Martin. His firm finish registered his first Carlisle league goal and saw the hosts assume a position of control.

Balderstone, inevitably, was at the centre of things, with United’s defenders snuffing out Rogers and the Robins’ keeper, Peter Downsborough, performing heroics to keep his side level.

He could not, though, keep the Blues at bay for too much longer, and they moved ahead when Balderstone’s ball into the box evaded a number of players and found Hatton in a good position.

His finish was so decisive that Downsborough only got near it when retrieving it from the net.

It was the only advantage United required and their 2-1 victory secured a fifth unbeaten game.

This added to the sense that Carlisle were now on a more promising path than their previous, mid-table efforts in the Second Division. Their run came to an end in their next game at Sheffield Wednesday but they quickly began another streak, spending the next 10 games without being beaten.

Hatton and Owen remained regular names on the scoresheet, with one game, a 6-0 thrashing of Portsmouth, delivering four goals to Hatton and two to his strike partner. That game also saw Gorman make his debut as United remained around the upper reaches of the table.

Stokoe, though, did not stay, as he was lured to Blackpool mid-season, thus ending the first of three spells at United’s hot-seat for the renowned north-east boss.

His place was taken by the big Scot, Ian MacFarlane, and Carlisle’s finishing position of fourth in 1970/71 was the second-highest in their history: another rung on the ladder to their mid-70s First Division golden age, a journey which saw Anglo-Italian Cup drama and the brief, brilliant era of Stan Bowles before the likes of Gorman, Martin, Balderstone, Ross and the returning Ashman saw the Cumbrians to the very summit.

United: Ross, Hemstead, Davis, Ternent, Winstanley, Sutton, Martin, Barton, Balderstone, Owen, Hatton. Not used: Murray.

Swindon: Downsborough, Thomas, Trollope, Butler, Burrows, Harland, Smith, Gough, Horsfield, Noble, Rogers. Not used: Jones.

Crowd: 10,070.