With respect to Carlisle United’s pre-season opponents this year, it’s fair to say things were a touch more exciting back in 1969. That year, the Blues’ build-up included a game – and a famous victory – against recent champions of Europe.

It was only two years since Celtic’s Lisbon Lions had written their names in history, and many of the heroes of ‘67 remained when they crossed the border for an early August friendly at Brunton Park.

Indeed, of the side that conquered Inter Milan, seven started against the Blues. That number included icons such as Tommy Gemmell, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill and Bobby Lennox, while the great Jimmy Johnstone was a substitute at United.

News and Star: United's Hugh McIlmoyle, left, takes on Celtic's defenceUnited's Hugh McIlmoyle, left, takes on Celtic's defence

Thousands of fans from Glasgow descended on Carlisle in the build-up to the game. It was the sort of supporting invasion that would give police incurable headaches these days. Reports of the 1969 incursion suggested plenty of happenings around the Great Border City that tested the force’s ability to keep control.

A police spokesman said that many incidents with Celtic supporters were concentrated on the Co-operative department story in Botchergate. They involved smashed china, a broken window and some shoes stolen from the store.

On top of that, “the skins and debris of over 120 pounds of bananas covered most of the top of Botchergate and Court Square after a raid on a consignment to a city supermarket.”

Officers were also on hand at Brunton Park to confiscate alcohol from spectators. Then Bob Stokoe’s intrepid Carlisle set about removing the swagger from those in the green and white hoops.

It came only three days after United had dispatched another Scottish opponent in Hearts. Celtic were on a higher plane, but they were brought down by the Blues.

The visitors had the early play and, attacking the Waterworks End, came close when captain McNeill headed narrowly wide. United responded hungrily and were denied an opening goal when Celtic keeper Ronnie Simpson clawed the ball away from Bob Hatton.

News and Star: A 50-50 challenge as United take on CelticA 50-50 challenge as United take on Celtic

The well-timed raids of Tommy Murray were by now a telling feature of Carlisle’s play. The diminutive figure had famously scored an FA Cup winner at Newcastle the previous season, and against Celtic he whistled a 20-yarder just past the post.

An end-to-end game unfolded. The classy Chris Balderstone went close for United before, at the other end, Allan Ross kept out Lennox’s drive.

Then there was Hugh McIlmoyle, Carlisle’s greatest centre-forward. After some dangerous frontrunning, McIlmoyle set up Derek Hemstead for a powerful shot which hit the inside of the post and rolled along the line to the grateful Simpson.

Jock Stein’s men certainly knew they were in a game against a United side on the up in Division Two. They also found Stokoe’s men resolute when, in quick succession, Tommy Passmoor denied Harry Hood, Stan Ternent cleared another attempt off the line and Ross superbly kept out a Gemmell free-kick.

Things were poised at the interval – and ripe for the introduction of more star quality. Enter ‘Jinky’ Johnstone to the noisy delight of the travelling fans.

News and Star: A packed Brunton Park looks on at the well-contested pre-season clashA packed Brunton Park looks on at the well-contested pre-season clash

United full-back Terry Caldwell wasted no time in making his presence felt, and he received some stern words when bringing down winger Johnstone from behind.

It was far from the last time the tough-tackling Caldwell left nothing to chance when trying to intercept the brilliant Johnstone.

Carlisle survived a major scare when Johnstone missed his kick at close range, and then gradually threatened again through McIlmoyle, who outjumped McNeill to head just over the bar.

Then they raised the roof when taking the lead.

It was the darting figure of Murray who wrote the headlines, receiving Balderstone’s pass just outside the box before curling an outstanding shot out of Simpson’s reach in the 73rd minute.

The little man had done it again – and Celtic had no reply. The Scottish champions’ shooting was sub-par when opportunities came, and Carlisle might have extended their lead through Balderstone.

The illustrious guests’ remaining efforts often foundered against the defensive organisation of United’s former Celtic man Willie O’Neill, and with one last Ross save from Wallace, Carlisle’s 1-0 victory was complete, instantly in the annals of their finest pre-season wins.

News and Star: Fans - and a policeman - look on as Bob Hatton brings the ball forward for CarlisleFans - and a policeman - look on as Bob Hatton brings the ball forward for Carlisle

Off the field, the aftermath was picked over to the tune of 25 arrests, though none at the ground. Twelve fans were removed from Brunton Park, while 2,000 empty beer and spirit bottles were left outside the stadium.

“Later,” it was reported, “a team of children with dolls’ prams carted the bottles away to get the deposit cash back on the empties.”

Aside from that youthful entrepreneurism, there was damage to flower beds in the city centre, other smashed windows and sporadic drunkenness and, more darkly, the jailing of a Glasgow supporter for flashing a cut-throat razor in Portland Place.

Those at the ground itself, though, were content with how the big occasion had passed. “I think it does show that we can stage games at Brunton Park without having trouble,” said Blues chairman George Sheffield.

The game was the precursor for a bold United season, which saw them reach the semi-finals of the League Cup and the fifth round of the FA Cup. As for Celtic, the slip-up in Cumbria did not deter their march to another Scottish championship: their fifth in a row and part of a legendary run of nine straight titles.

No small achievement, then, for Carlisle to get the better of them on that stirring summer day at Brunton Park.

United: Ross, Hemstead, Caldwell, Ternent, Passmoor, O’Neill, Barton, Murray, Hatton, McIlmoyle, Balderstone. Subs: McVitie, Brown, Dean.

Celtic: Simpson, Hay, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Hughes, Hood, Wallace, Callaghan, Lennox. Subs: Johnstone, Fallon, Connolly, Cattenach.