If the prospect of any new season comes with at least a little anticipation, imagine how it must have felt for Carlisle United as the 1965/6 campaign got under way.

These were brave new times as the Cumbrians started life as a second-tier club for the very first time.

This was the result of consecutive promotions under Alan Ashman, including a memorable last-day Third Division title triumph against Mansfield in April 1965.

That was the crowning glory of a side captained by the late Peter McConnell. Four months after that dramatic Championship victory, McConnell and his team-mates were sharing a Second Division with the likes of Manchester City, Derby, Wolves, Southampton and Norwich – the latter providing their first test of term.

The approach of the campaign saw an increased demand for season tickets, new concrete terracing installed at Brunton Park’s Waterworks End and, in the squad, three new faces.

Ashman’s additions that summer were Blackpool wing-half Gordon Marsland, Bury full-back Brian Gallagher and, most notably, a certain Christopher Balderstone from Huddersfield.

They joined an upwardly-mobile team, yet even United’s most optimistic fans cannot have expected the new season to begin in quite so much style.

On an August day of high promise, a Norwich side who had finished sixth in Division Two the previous season simply had no reply to the vibrant Blues. A sensational start brought two goals inside the first six minutes, another before half-time and one more after the break.

The great ovation greeting the side from the 11,954 home crowd had barely faded when United went close in the first minute through Johnny Evans. Then they scored a minute later.

It was cricket and football maestro Balderstone who got the landmark goal. He was positioned in front of the net to turn the ball home after Stan Harland and Ronnie Simpson had combined down the wing.

The old ground erupted – and then did so again just four minutes later when Simpson this time helped himself to a goal.

Frank Large, two-goal slayer of Mansfield in that tthird-tier itle decider, beat Barry Butler to the ball and slipped it wide, and outside-left Simpson raced through and drove the ball forcefully through the legs of City goalkeeper Kevin Keelan.

This rampant start defied any fears about how Carlisle would approach life at their highest level to date, and they threatened to make things even better still. Gallagher and skipper McConnell went close to a third while, when the Canaries finally came into things midway through the half, home goalkeeper Joe Dean saved well from Don Heath and Jimmy Hill.

This was a brief interlude, for United’s defence was standing firm and their attack continually ambitious. On 36 minutes, they increased their lead further and this time it came from the penalty spot, Heath’s handball giving Simpson the chance for a second.

He made no mistake, powerfully shooting past Keelan, and the only blow at all to Carlisle in this dream, three-goal first half was when Evans was briefly laid out after being hit by the ball in the stomach. He returned after treatment.

The game was all but over already, and even when Norwich did find a brief way back, it counted for little. They scored in the 49th minute through Tommy Bryceland, whose shot went in off the post at a time United’s rearguard were expecting an offside decision.

No matter; three minutes later the margin was three again. Harland switched play with an impressive pass to Jimmy Blain, and his cross was steered home by Large with a trademark header.

With 38 minutes to go Carlisle were entirely comfortable and the rest of the game was not so dramatic, not that the Blues were concerned. Large came closest to a fifth while Norwich’s hopes of a late consolation were thwarted by man-of-the-match Harland, as the left-half cleared off the line after Large’s backpass had been picked up by Bryceland.

The 4-1 win was a perfect start which, realistically, the Cumbrians could not hope to emulate regularly. Reality bit with two defeats to Southampton and Wolves before a trio of wins got Ashman’s men back in the groove.

This is how it went for most of the campaign, a sequence of wins and defeats with only five draws by the end: the lowest total in the table. United’s finishing position of 14th reflected a general improvement from December onwards, and offered a foothold in the second tier from which, eventually, they could climb again.

United: Dean, Gallagher, Caldwell, McConnell, Passmoor, Harland, Blain, Evans, Large, Balderstone, Simpson. Sub: Neil.

Norwich: Keelan, Sharpe, Mullett, Lucas, Butler, Hill, Heath, Bryceland, Davies, Bolland, Punton. Sub: Allcock.

Crowd: 11,954.