In 11 days’ time there will be quite the nostalgia trip when heroes from Carlisle United's 1994/5 and 2005/6 title eras strut their (slightly) ageing stuff at Brunton Park again.

They are returning to the Blues’ ground for a reunion game in aid of a former players’ fund. When memories are shared and classic games recalled, it’s possible one or two minds will go back to the Sixfields Stadium on March 10, 2006.

It was, 16 years ago now, the night Paul Simpson’s team put their decisive stamp on the League Two title race – and another evening when their two goalscoring stars shone brightly.

First there was Karl Hawley, with his strength, razor sharp instincts and rapier finishing. Then there was Michael Bridges, whose quality often seemed rather out of place in England’s fourth tier.

News and Star: Karl Hawley battles with Northampton's Luke ChambersKarl Hawley battles with Northampton's Luke Chambers

It was United’s fortune to benefit from them both, as well as a team of other fine performers, from Keiren Westwood in goal to Kevin Gray at the back, from Chris Lumsdon and Chris Billy in midfield to Simon Hackney on the wing.

Plus many more. Carlisle’s last promotion and title team will never be shaken from the memory and their performance on a Friday night in Northampton underlined exactly why.

The game came amid a crucial run-in which had seen the Blues inch ahead of Wycombe Wanderers at the top of the table. Northampton were close behind, two points adrift, manager Colin Calderwood doing his best, pre-match, to ramp things up.

News and Star: Keiren Westwood makes a flying saveKeiren Westwood makes a flying save

“Whoever sits at the top of the league has that little bit of added pressure,” the Cobblers’ manager said. Carlisle had not won in 14 visits to Northampton either.

United had, a few days earlier, booked their place in the Football League Trophy final but promotion was the priority. “If we are on our game, we know we can get a result there," said Hawley, who had just been named League Two’s player of the season

Carlisle were on their game. On a fine pitch, United flourished – eventually. Calderwood’s side made the first running, veteran Ian Taylor pulling strings in midfield, Gavin Johnson and Jason Crowe raiding the flanks.

News and Star: Derek Holmes takes on Cobblers defender ChambersDerek Holmes takes on Cobblers defender Chambers

Andy Kirk, up front, drew a block from a determined Danny Livesey. Westwood then saved a Taylor header, while Carlisle’s counter-attacks foundered when Paul Arnison had a shot saved and Billy drove wide.

Otherwise, it seemed like the redoubtable Cobblers defensive figure of Sean Dyche might keep a lid on Simpson’s strikeforce. Yet a three-minute spell midway through the first half changed that.

News and Star: Karl Hawley pounces to open the scoringKarl Hawley pounces to open the scoring

First, United survived a scare when Johnson hammered the crossbar from 30 yards and Zigor Aranalde completed the clearance. Then, Carlisle scored. Crowe was the Cobblers’ culprit, with an under-hit backpass, and Hawley was straight onto it, nudging it past keeper Lee Harper and stroking it into the net.

News and Star: Bridges, left, celebrates with scorer HawleyBridges, left, celebrates with scorer Hawley

It was a 24th goal of a campaign which would, in the end, yield 26 for Hawley. Northampton responded through Eoin Jess, who drew a superb save from Westwood – but then after the break, United rose again superbly.

Finally imposing themselves with consistency. Hawley saw an effort cleared off the line, Bridges had a penalty shout dismissed, and the home manager then threw on Jason Lee, the former Nottingham Forest striker, in the hope of a way back.

News and Star: Bridges scores a stunning second goal for UnitedBridges scores a stunning second goal for United

Those were rendered minor details by what came next: Hawley going up for a brave header, Bridges cushioning the dropping ball on his thigh and then, from 25 yards, sending a dreamy volley past Harper and into the top corner of the net.

United’s travelling fans were lost to disbelief. It was a magnificent moment from their former Premier League striker, and the punch that left their opponents tottering. Ten minutes later, they sealed the deal when Harper allowed an Adam Murray corner to slip through the box, and defender Livesey poached number three.

News and Star: Shaun Dyche, second left, can only watch as the shot from Danny Livesey, second right (partially obscured) makes it 3-0 to CarlisleShaun Dyche, second left, can only watch as the shot from Danny Livesey, second right (partially obscured) makes it 3-0 to Carlisle

Cobblers fans shuffled joylessly out of the stadium, while 796 Cumbrians sang: “You’ve just seen the champions”. It was a conclusion that looked likelier than ever, since United went three points clear at the top.

“This is our biggest victory of the season,” admitted Simpson, acknowledging Northampton had kept 19 clean sheets and only lost five games prior to Carlisle’s visit.

“In the first half we had to grind it out. But in the second half we came into our own.”

News and Star: Paul Simpson salutes United's travelling fans at NorthamptonPaul Simpson salutes United's travelling fans at Northampton

Simmo paused to applaud Bridges’ “wonder goal” before heading, a few days later, to Old Trafford to pick up an award for the best performing manager in the country over the third quarter of the season.

More accolades were to follow. United’s march to the title was soon complete, the Blues lifting a championship trophy for only the third time in their history, as well as going down valiantly to Swansea in the Trophy final.

News and Star: Michael Bridges shows his joy at the end of the gameMichael Bridges shows his joy at the end of the game

Now, sixteen years on, Bridges, Hawley and many of the rest are on their way back.  What memories they gave us; what sweet success they allowed us all to enjoy.

Northampton: Harper, Crowe, Chambers, Dyche, Doig, Taylor (Gilligan), Jess, Hunt (Lee), Johnson, Kirk, McGleish (Smith). Not used: Bunn, Hand.

United: Westwood, Arnison, Aranalde, Gray, Livesey, Billy, Lumsdon, A Murray, Holmes (Hackney), Hawley (G Murray), Bridges. Not used: Williams, McGill, Grand.

Crowd: 7,045 (796 United fans).