There was a definite sense of new beginnings when Carlisle United got their season under way some 29 years ago.

There was a new manager – or, to be exact, director of coaching – with Mick Wadsworth having been appointed by Michael Knighton to lead the Blues into a fresh era.

The respected but in many ways unheralded coach, who had previously worked with the Football Association, replaced David McCreery, who remained as player-coach.

Also filling that job description was the veteran goalkeeper Mervyn Day, who had joined Wadsworth’s set-up from Leeds United.

On the pitch there were new arrivals too. On the eve of the visit of newly-promoted Wycombe Wanderers, Wadsworth cut a deal for ex-Wimbledon frontman Carlton Fairweather.

News and Star: Carlton Fairhweather made his United debut against WycombeCarlton Fairhweather made his United debut against Wycombe

The 31-year-old was registered in time for the Brunton Park curtain-raiser of the 1993/4 season, with the prospect of a two-year contract if his form and fitness held up.

“I invited him to come up and he loves it here. We couldn’t miss the chance to sign a class player like him," said Wadsworth, who had worked with Fairweather when the latter took his coaching badges.

In the event, it was other new players who caught the eye – at both ends of the pitch – whilst Wycombe also made their first waves as a Football League club.

News and Star: Managers Martin O'Neill and Mick Wadsworth shake handsManagers Martin O'Neill and Mick Wadsworth shake hands

They were managed by Martin O’Neill, who had led the Chairboys to Conference glory the previous season.

While former Northern Ireland team-mates O’Neill and McCreery were reunited across the dugouts, Carlisle were quick to introduce Wycombe to some blunt realities of higher-level life.

That United had seven new signings to knit together did not deter them from making the stronger start. In front of a 7,752 crowd, Tony Gallmore almost set up George Oghani for a second-minute opening goal, only for the frontman to head the cross over the bar.

News and Star: Shane Reddish goes up for a header as United attackShane Reddish goes up for a header as United attack

In the Carlisle goal, Day came off his line to make a smart block, but the Blues were the likeliest early scorers, and duly they took the lead in the 18th minute.

The scorer was one of the new boys, former Watford prodigy Rod Thomas. He found back-post room to fire home a delicate Oghani cross, and the Wadsworth era was off and running.

It did not, though, herald a march to victory. Wycombe set about things with good appetite on their League bow, and got themselves back into the game shortly before half-time.

They were helped on their way by United defender Chris Curran. The former Scarborough man was the hapless victim as Day pushed a Keith Scott header against the bar, Curran then unable to stop himself heading the rebound back into his own net.

News and Star: United scorer Rod Thomas on the attackUnited scorer Rod Thomas on the attack

It was, after an Oghani own-goal for Walsall the previous year, the second consecutive opening-day OG by a Blues player. It set Wycombe up for a bold attempt at a famous victory – and, after the break, they got within sight of it.

Fairweather and Shane Reddish had passed up Carlisle chances by the time Wadsworth sent on Ian Arnold to give the Blues an attacking lift. Come the 76th minute, though, and it was Wycombe who were celebrating, Steve Guppy pouncing to score from close range at the far post to put the visitors 2-1 up.

It risked being a deflating start for the Cumbrians – only for Curran to come to their rescue.

News and Star: Steve Holden, centre, in the thick of the actionSteve Holden, centre, in the thick of the action

He atoned for his earlier error in the 83rd minute when, via Arnold and Thomas, he found the ball in his path to drive a firm low shot past Paul Hyde to make it 2-2.

That’s how it remained despite a frantic finish. “It was a great day, very emotive,” Wadsworth said later. “It was reminiscent of a cup tie. I thought the occasion dominated the game.

“It was high tempo, fiery, exciting at times, but the quality of the football was not as good as hoped from either team.”

So began a season which took United and Wycombe on exciting journeys before they collided at the last. Wadsworth’s team – minus Fairweather, who never caught fire in a blue shirt, but bolstered by £121,000 record signing David Reeves – made a modest start but in the second half of the season surged into the top seven.

News and Star: George Oghani holds the ball upGeorge Oghani holds the ball up

There, they met Wycombe. United’s first experience of the play-offs was, alas, a chastening one, as O’Neill’s side won 2-0 at Brunton Park before finishing the job at Adams Park with a further 2-1 win.

They went on to beat Preston in the final to achieve a second straight promotion. Carlisle had another year to wait – but in 1994/5, Wadsworth, Thomas et al marched the Blues to the fourth-tier title.

United: Day, Burgess, Gallimore, Holden, Curran, Edmondson, Thomas, Reddish (Arnold), Oghani, Davey, Fairweather. Not used: Caig, Joyce.

Wycombe: Hyde, Cousins, Horton (Langford), Kerr, Crossley, Ryan, Carroll, Stapleton, Thompson, Scott, Guppy (Hutchinson). Not used: Moussadik.

Crowd: 7,752.