A major moment in Carlisle United history is 40 years old today - their last promotion to England’s second tier.

The Blues’ 1-0 victory at Chester in their last game of the 1981/2 secured second place in the old Third Division.

To mark the anniversary, here we reproduce the Evening News & Star match report of the game written by the great Ivor Broadis, along with post-match comments from Bob Stokoe's heroes.


By Ivor Broadis

It’s Newcastle and not Newport next season, Wednesday instead of Walsall.

On wings of song from travelling fans, a chorus that never abated, United came good when the chips were down, and pulled down the blinds on Lincoln City.

Fittingly after the impact and influence he’s had since his arrival, it was the old fox Pop Robson who shot them into the runner-up spot in the table, behind Burnley on goal difference.

Man of many parts as assistant boss, player and coach, Robson underlined his most important role.

In the 36th minute Gordon Staniforth’s ball into the box followed a corner kick, and when Paul Bannon’s shot came back off the keeper, ROBSON cracked it well wide of Gren Millington’s groping hand.

News and Star: One of our photos of celebrating United fansOne of our photos of celebrating United fans

His quick circling turn, and hand held aloft, was I suspect Robson’s salute to the second division right then, as well as acknowledgement of the vital breakthrough.

The side needed it, for although they’d looked the more composed trying to play it at their own pace, Chester’s commitment had caused the odd problem for a differently organised defence.

And there were times when nerves betrayed them, and the pace of the ball off a wet pitch, made demands on players’ control that they couldn’t meet.

In pictures: Carlisle United's last promotion to Division Two - 40 years ago today!

Resolution and willingness to work was never in question however, and when they’d absorbed the spells of pressure, Tommy Craig emerged in a class of his own, making the home side chase.

Playing it sensible and playing it safe, getting men back behind the ball when they lost possession, they still needed a couple of saves from Trevor Swinburne first half to steady the boat.

Ironically it was an example of their greater capacity for work that brought Chester a 14th minute chance, when Staniforth, chasing back to help, put Peter Henderson in possession.

He cracked a shot from 20 yards that the advancing Swinburne splendidly tipped over for a corner.

And after Keith Houghton had to be treated for a mouth injury following a clash of heads with Trevor Phillips, Chester went close again.

Henderson won a corner and played it short for Peter Zelem to find former United player Steve Ludlam with a square pass.

He swept a shot left footed from the edge of the box that Swinburne turned for a corner at full-length.

News and Star: Our picture coverage of the Chester victoryOur picture coverage of the Chester victory

Houghton, spoken to earlier, was booked for a foul on Phillips…a bit harshly I thought, since Chester through their lack of skill and timing had given away the bulk of free-kicks.

The one blemish on a fine night for the fans was the mass invasion of the pitch after the goal. But they were soon back in good voice, especially after a Robson-Rushbury link up.

The United left back, attacking from midfield, picked out Staniforth with his final pass, but although the striker went round Paul Raynor inside the box, his shot was off target.

If there was a criticism of United’s work, it was their reluctance to go all the way in a one for one situation.

They laced their short game with some fine Crossfield balls from Craig and Coughlin, but invariably the strikers checked back.

There was more purpose second half, more accuracy in passing that made Chester’s approach like more energetic than creative.

News and Star: Our coverage of the post-match pitch invasionOur coverage of the post-match pitch invasion

In the 53rd minute Craig played a free-kick to Coughlin to bast from 20 yards, and when Millington lost the ball as Staniforth followed up, Robson angled his shot into the side net.

Bobby Parker had to make one important tackle to check Phillips after rock steady Jack Ashurst misjudged a bounce, before Chester faded.

They brought on Gary Simpson for Paul Blackwell to go close with a header, and Tom Ritchie replaced Paul Bannon to create a chance with his first touch.

He played a low ball back from the byline and Parker, running in, hit a thunderous shot that beat the keeper, but found Zelem on the line to clear.

After that it was merely a question of playing out time, with Chester a tired team, accepting the inevitable.

News and Star: Our back page after United's promotionOur back page after United's promotion

At the United back, there was the odd scramble, but overall three men playing man for man with Ashurst the sweeper, looked in better shape the longer the game went.

But the telling factor was the know-how and experience of Craig and Robson, holding and using the ball without fluster and setting the pattern for the rest.

Chester: Millington, Dean, Cottam, Zelem, Raynor, Blackwell, Ludlam, Jones, Phillips, Allen, Henderson. Sub: Simpson.

United: Swinburne, Parker, Ashurst, Houghton, Larkin, Coughlin, Craig, Rushbury, Robson, Bannon, Staniforth. Sub: Ritchie.

Referee: Trelford Mills (Barnsley).

Crowd: 2,535.


POP ROBSON: “We needed the goal to settle us down. The season’s been long because we haven’t had many comfortable matches. After Saturday [a 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers] the lads were determined they weren’t going to give anything away.”

News and Star: Pop RobsonPop Robson

TOMMY CRAIG: “I was surprised to see so many fans, they made it like a home match. It helped to make up for Saturday.”

RUSSELL COUGHLIN: “We knew it would be a battle and we battled. I thought the man for man marking at the back worked well and we weren’t in very much trouble.”

News and Star: Russell CoughlinRussell Coughlin

BOB LEE: “I was disappointed I wasn’t out there, but the lads were great.”

PAUL BANNON: “I’ve never felt anything like it. The atmosphere was as good as we get at home, and I’m happy for the lads.”

JACK ASHURST: “I’m pleased for Pop and the gaffer and the rest of the lads. We can enjoy a great night, but the hard work is just beginning.”

TONY LARKIN: “We did it the hard way, while the others came from behind. Now we’ve got to go on from here.”

DAVE RUSHBURY: “I hoped something like this would happen when I came, but I didn’t expect it after last season.”

TREVOR SWINBURNE: “It’s tremendous, well worth the 46 games we’ve had to play to get here.”

GORDON STANIFORTH: “I’m chuffed. It’s the highlight of my career and I’m going to savour it.”

News and Star: Gordon StaniforthGordon Staniforth

TOM RITCHIE: “I’m delighted for the lads. It’s a pity that the last few games didn’t go as well as they might have done, but you can’t take away the months of hard work the lads put in before that.”

KEITH HOUGHTON: “You can put it down to the boss. He made the tactical change and although it didn’t go quite right at first, I thought it was great second half. Chester gave it all they had, but the lads were tremendous.”

PAUL HAIGH: “This is what it’s all about. I thought the fans did a great job and the team responded.”

BOB STOKOE (manager): “I know it’s all about the future, but I feel we’ve earned a couple of days to anticipate some of the more famous names coming back to Brunton Park next season.”

News and Star: Bob Stokoe, second rightBob Stokoe, second right