There is, with apologies to the poor protagonist, a name more likely to bring out the cold sweats than any other when Carlisle United fans think of the mid-1980s.

Jim Tolmie.

Often the name is divided by a swearword, or several. Even now, 36 years on, the sense of bewilderment remains. Those who were at Brunton Park on May 3, 1986 – and 6,526 fans had the dubious privilege – will always have the moment high on their list of Blues infamy.

It was the own goal to end them all, the bleakly bizarre moment that helped finish United off as a Second Division club - the mishap that farcically pointed them towards a relegation and lower-league status from which they’ve never yet returned.

News and Star: Jim Tolmie pictured at Brunton Park after his move from Manchester CityJim Tolmie pictured at Brunton Park after his move from Manchester City

It would be harsh to put it all on one chap with bouncing curly locks. There were, no doubt, many more reasons why Bob Stokoe’s Blues were in a pickle late in that 1985/6 season.

All the same. Every slump has its defining moment and this one tops the lot by its tragi-comic execution.

Rewind. Tolmie, a 25-year-old Glaswegian winger, had joined Carlisle on loan from Manchester City late in a difficult and dissatisfying season at Brunton Park.

News and Star: Tolmie signed for the Blues for their 1985/6 Division Two run-inTolmie signed for the Blues for their 1985/6 Division Two run-in

United’s bold beginnings to the 1980s, who had brought a realistic push for a top-flight return in 1984, had faded two seasons later. Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson’s first shot at the management job had proved short-lived, and the familiar figure of Bob Stokoe had returned to the helm for a third time.

Charged with securing safety in a tough league and hard financial climate after a woeful start, Stokoe relied on the traits of players like Ian Bishop and John Halpin, but the latter’s broken leg, in a hostile challenge by Middlesbrough’s Brian Laws, deprived United of their jinking wing star for the run-in.

Enter Tolmie. He had previously played for Morton and Belgian side Lokeren, while his involvement in Carlisle’s last eight games of their survival battle included a goal from the penalty spot in a 2-0 home win over Brighton.

News and Star: United celebrate one of two Wes Saunders goals against CharltonUnited celebrate one of two Wes Saunders goals against Charlton

If that, amid an impressive run of March form, kept Stokoe’s men in the hunt, it still required a positive finish with two games to go. The first was against Charlton Athletic, who were hunting promotion at the other end of the table.

Lennie Lawrence’s visitors were backed by a strong travelling support who came to Cumbria in the hope of watching a coronation.

It certainly proved a memorable trip for those Addicks fans – but only through the most scenic route imaginable.

News and Star: Saunders, No5, celebrates one of the goals that made survival seem possible against CharltonSaunders, No5, celebrates one of the goals that made survival seem possible against Charlton

In front of that expectant crowd, Stokoe’s side began apace. Just five minutes in, they took the lead when Wes Saunders powered home.

If that made the Cumbrians sense survival might just be on, a second goal on 22 minutes emphasised the feeling. It was Saunders again who found the net, doubling Carlisle’s lead with a commanding header from a Bishop corner.

News and Star: Charlton's keeper can't stop Saunders' effortCharlton's keeper can't stop Saunders' effort

The game was unfolding better than United could have imagined. Charlton fans had let loose hundreds of red and white balloons before the game, but a sense of deflation was now setting in for the visitors.

The Addicks broke dangerously at times, but Carlisle grew in confidence. Paul Baker might well have scored a third, but failed to connect when running unchallenged onto Mick Halsall’s free-kick.

With half-time five minutes away, United seemed in strong enough control. Then it happened.

News and Star: Ian Bishop strikes a free-kick for the BluesIan Bishop strikes a free-kick for the Blues

Tolmie, receiving the ball not too far into Carlisle’s half, was under scant pressure when he turned back. With a range of options to consider, he decided the best one was to float the ball all the way back to goalkeeper Scott Endersby.

The backpass rule was still six years in the future, yet Tolmie’s calculations still gave United’s No1 no chance. The ball looped back towards Carlisle’s goal, leaving Endersby stranded. The keeper failed to scramble back in time to prevent the ball striking a post and disappearing over the line at the Waterworks End.

News and Star: Charlton clear their lines against UnitedCharlton clear their lines against United

It was a howler which had the effect of spooking the Blues. Charlton were buoyed by their sudden route back and, in the second half, performed as though destiny was beckoning them.

With the wind at their backs, Lawrence’s side then delivered the inevitable. Carlisle held them off until midway into the second period, Paul Gorman replacing the hapless Tolmie – but then they cracked in the 70th minute.

Mark Stuart brought the visitors level, touching in a Jim Melrose lob. Then, with ten minutes remaining, Mark Aizlewood struck the winner.

News and Star: United put pressure on the visiting defence in the second halfUnited put pressure on the visiting defence in the second half

It secured promotion for Charlton and sent their fans spilling onto the pitch. Manager Lawrence was hoisted onto shoulders, and it proved an unforgettable afternoon for the Addicks in the end.

For Carlisle, likewise - but in a much more desolate sense. The defeat made the drop all but inevitable and a final-day 2-1 defeat at Oldham Athletic proved their last game in the second tier, with Blackburn surviving at their expense by beating Grimsby Town on the same day.

That final afternoon, at Boundary Park on May 5, 1986, proved a bitter experience as some travelling fans clashed with police and Stokoe headed to the terraces to appeal for order.

News and Star: United try to force their way through against promotion-bound CharltonUnited try to force their way through against promotion-bound Charlton

When the dust settled, it also proved the end for one of the Blues’ great managers. Harry Gregg took the reins from Stokoe, as United’s decline continued in Division Three.

As for Tolmie, his career swiftly took him away from Carlisle, and to Sweden, later returning to Morton; some distance from Cumbria by then, but never, as the years passed, all that far from fans’ minds when they thought of the Brunton Park mishap that will always, alas, take some beating.

News and Star: Jim Tolmie, whose own-goal will always reside in United infamyJim Tolmie, whose own-goal will always reside in United infamy

United: Endersby, Haigh, Ashurst, Saunders, McCartney, Cooke, Bishop, Halsall, Tolmie (Gorman), Baker, Hill.

Charlton: Johns, Humphrey, Thompson, Pender, Reid, Lee, Shipley, Aizlewood, Stuart, Melrose, Pearson. Sub: Gritt.

Crowd: 6,526.