The need to make the most of things at Brunton Park has been a regular and not always satisfied demand at Carlisle United in recent years.

If only things at HQ could be as happily predictable as they were a few decades ago, when home wins were more frequent across the board in football and the Blues’ ground was a genuine stronghold; certainly among the reasons they rose through the leagues as they did.

The 1965/6 season was a typical example of this. It was United’s first ever campaign in England’s second tier, the result of back-to-back promotions under Alan Ashman in what must go down as the beginning of the club’s genuine heyday.

Having finished runners up to Gillingham on goal average in the Fourth Division in 1964, they thrillingly won the third-tier title the following season and while they struggled to adapt on their travels at the higher level, home comforts were still regularly available.

So it was when they faced Bury on a chilly afternoon in the festive period, at a time when United’s varying form was coming under scrutiny. Grilled at the club’s annual general meeting, manager Ashman was forced to deny that his players were “not giving of their best in away games”, protesting that “the ball had not run kindly” on the road – not, he added, that this was offered as an “excuse”.

Some transfer work was also in the offing, with the previous season’s promotion goalscorer Frank Large on the verge of a move to Oldham, and Joe Livingstone, whose claims for a starting place had become a cause among some fans, “one and a half stones” too heavy, according to Ashman, as well as nursing a knee injury.

This, though, did not prevent Livingstone from inflicting the necessary damage on Bury when they visited Brunton Park on December 27. His return from suspension gave United the spearhead they needed to claim a much-needed victory that afternoon.

It took him just two minutes, in fact, to make his mark, firing the Blues into an early lead from an Eric Welsh pass. This helped Ashman’s aspiring side establish a position of control for much of the first half against their Greater Manchester visitors.

Indeed, the Cumbrians’ extra confidence was such that a second goal arrived on the half-hour mark. This time it was the result of a good move which saw Ronnie Simpson find David Wilson, whose nodded lay-off to Livingstone was returned to him. Wilson then slammed the chance hard past Shakers keeper Chris Harker.

A two-goal advantage would have been three by the break had the offside flag not denied Welsh, and United were left to wish their lead had indeed been greater when Bury mounted something of a fightback after the break.

They pulled a goal back just four minutes after the restart, keeper Joe Dean beaten to the ball by Jack Maltby and his whipped delivery turned home at the near post by future United marksman Bobby Owen.

Carlisle’s earlier play was now much less convincing, Simpson and Welsh struggling to create despite switching wings, and full-back Hugh Neil the unlikely source of their best chance in this spell with a shot Harker turned over the bar.

At the other end, Ashman’s defenders were frequently occupied by Bury attacks, Tommy Claxton hitting the crossbar and Dean saving an Owen header on the line.

An emphatic win at this stage seemed remote, so it was with some relief that United finally rediscovered their tempo in the closing stages. The crucial third was taken in the 80th minute by Wilson after another one-two with Livingstone.

It was then time for Chris Balderstone to announce his class on proceedings and when he dispatched a powerful fourth just inside the upright, United had dealt with their tremors and given notice with a 4-1 win that their maiden Second Division season may not turn out to be troubled after all.

The bottom reaches remained tight, but Carlisle’s formidable Brunton ways – 16 wins, two draws, three defeats – saw them safely to 14th, offsetting an away record which saw only one victory and three draws. Bury’s fortunes were similar as they finished four points and four places further back.

The Blues had, overall, stepped up with enough ability to stay there, and 1965/6 proved a platform for a nine-year stay at that level, culminating in the club’s greatest rise, to the top-flight in 1974: an achievement inspired by the great Ashman when he returned for a second spell in charge.

United: Dean, Neil, Caldwell, McConnell, Passmoor, Harland, Welsh, Wilson, Livingstone, Balderstone, Simpson. Sub: Carlin.

Bury: Harker, Bain, Leech, Turner, Colquhoun, Parry, Claxton, Bell, Owen, Maltby, Bird. Sub: Griffin.

Crowd: 13,873.