It has been a wait of 57 years since fans could watch Carlisle United and Barrow do battle in league football.

And it’s safe to say the home side would certainly settle for a repeat of the last occasion in front of supporters.

That came on April 17, 1964, when 9,538 packed into Brunton Park to watch a promotion-chasing United side taking on a struggling Barrow in Division Four.

They say form can go out of the window in derby games (although the ’64 meeting couldn’t really be called that, given it was a Cumberland v Lancashire fixture back then).

All the same – things went entirely as expected as Alan Ashman’s United recorded a 4-1 win over Ron Staniforth’s Bluebirds.

It came at a time Carlisle were competing near the top of the fourth tier and seeking a quick return to the Third Division after the previous campaign’s relegation.

Striker Hugh McIlmoyle, who had signed the previous March, had proved a prolific addition to the United strikeforce, and a couple of games before Barrow’s visit the Scot had struck two goals against Chester which enabled him to break Jimmy McConnell’s long-standing, 35-year club record for the most goals in a season by a Blues player.

News and Star: The match report headline from 1964The match report headline from 1964

He was on 43 and the team had 106 from 43 league games by the time Barrow came to town for a Friday evening encounter – yet it was other marksmen who did the damage in this game.

The Cumberland Evening News’s Bob Wood reported from Brunton Park, and described how United raced into a position of command before making heavier weather of their second half efforts.

“Carlisle were undoubtedly seen at their best in the first half, when they raced into a three goals interval lead, thanks to two fine goals from [Johnny] Evans and one from [Joe] Livingstone,” he wrote.

Barrow went close to scoring in the early stages, Stan Howard and Ernie Ackerley threatening and the latter denied by a superb Allan Ross save.

The 13th minute, though, saw United into the lead, “when Livingstone and McIlmoyle went up for the ball and it broke to the right for Evans, who drove a vicious hook shot into the net.

“Four minutes later, Carlisle were well on their way to victory when Livingstone headed home a fine cross from Evans, who did the spade work by tearing down the right wing and sending the ball into the middle.”

News and Star: The teams and attendanceThe teams and attendance

Frank Kirkup had a further United shot cleared off the line by Tommy Cahill before a third goal arrived.

“Carlisle were unquestionably masters in this half, and it came as no surprise when, in the 32nd minute, they went further ahead,” wrote reporter Wood.

“Again it was Evans, although much credit went to an otherwise subdued McIlmoyle. The leader chased a long pass from [Tommy] Passmoor to the by-line, and chipped it across for Evans to shoot into the net.

“Barrow players protested that the ball was over the line when Mcilmoyle centred, but the referee was adamant in his decision.”

The visitors staged an attempted fightback early in the second half.

“Within three minutes of the restart, Barrow had pulled back a goal. Tommy Thompson, picking up a pass from [Ray] Brennan, ran 30 yards to resist more than one tackle and shoot into the net.”

McIlmoyle and Evans passed up further opportunities to restore United’s three-goal advantage, while the second half saw Barrow “doing most of the fighting”, Terry Caldwell clearing a goalbound shot from Dixie Hale.

At the other end Brian Caine saved a Peter McConnell effort, and eventually Carlisle reimposed their superiority.

“In the 78th minute, Livingstone was sent through by Taylor, and this time there was no mistake as he coolly slipped the ball past the advancing ‘keeper.”

It left Carlisle well poised to finish the promotion job. ‘United collected two more vital points in battle’ read the match report headline, while Barrow, who had held the Blues 2-2 in the season’s previous meeting, were firmly at the foot of the Fourth Division.

United went on to host Rochdale four days later knowing another win would seal their place in the third tier. A crowd of 11,556 watched Evans get the goal that proved enough for a 1-0 victory and a second-placed finish behind Gillingham, and the champagne flowed.

Chairman George Sheffield was keen to praise manage Ashman for the feat. “In his first full season as a League manager, he has gained promotion. That in itself is a great achievement and just reward for the tremendous amount of work he has a put in. I congratulate everyone who has played a part in this success.”

News and Star: Our coverage of United's four goals, scored by (from top down) Evans, Livingstone, Evans and LivingstoneOur coverage of United's four goals, scored by (from top down) Evans, Livingstone, Evans and Livingstone

“Come next season and bring your friends,” was Ashman’s message to supporters, as United went on a run which did not see a return to the fourth tier until 1987. As for Barrow – they finished bottom of the table and remained a League club for eight more years before being voted out in 1972.

It took them 48 long years to get back in, a period which saw the town become part of Cumbria in 1974, and while last season’s meetings with Carlisle had to be played behind closed doors, a big travelling support is heading up the road to Brunton Park this afternoon: a little piece of Cumbrian football history, whatever the outcome.

News and Star: The full match report from the Cumberland Evening NewsThe full match report from the Cumberland Evening News