LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Peterborough United

The Posh push for a longer stint in the second tier

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Enjoying their most prominent spell in the Football League since joining in 1960, Peterborough United have yet to establish a firm hold on the second flight.

Young chairman Darragh MacAnthony, barely 30 when he took over from outspoken Barry Fry in 2006, has been bold in his managerial choices, giving Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex, a first crack at first-team coaching.

Ferguson’s Peterborough have thrice gained promotion to the Championship. Now in his third spell, the former Scottish U-21 international again led The Posh out of League One, this time with a stirring fightback against local rivals Lincoln, reversing a 0-3 scoreline at London Road to draw level 3-3. The fact that the equaliser was a 96th-minute penalty, assuring Peterborough of a runners-up spot, made it only more sweet.

Posh Supporters Club/Matt Stevens

Another strong-minded managerial debutant, Jimmy Hagan, originally led Peterborough to the unchartered waters of full league status in 1960. United had been formed in 1934 to replace the then recently defunct Peterborough & Fletton United. 

Along with inheriting their old ground on London Road, the new club assumed their former nickname of The Posh. In those early days, United ran out in green and played in the Midland League.

Hagan, a former mercurial inside-forward for Sheffield United, later to lead Eusébio’s Benfica to three consecutive championships, arrived at London Road in 1958. The Posh were already in the middle of a five-title winning streak in the Midland League and aiming for a place in the newly formed Fourth Division.

With automatic accession to the Football League still a long way off, United were a rare example of a club being elected by committee at the expense of another – in this case, Gateshead in 1960.

Palmerston Arms/Matt Stevens

That summer, Hagan bought the prolific Terry Bly from Norwich, whose record 54 goals (of 134, another record) helped The Posh to promotion in their first season.

Though Hagan left for WBA and Bly for Coventry, Peterborough continued to rip up the form book, beating Arsenal to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1965 and losing to Hagan’s WBA in the semi-finals of the League Cup later that year.

Mismanagement and misfortune dogged the next decade, United forcibly relegated in 1968 and missing out on promotion to Division 2 on the last day of the 1976-77 season.

It was a veteran of that campaign, defender Chris Turner, who would lead The Posh to two successive promotions, taking them from the fourth flight to the second, from January 1991 to December 1992. Between the last-day victory over Chesterfield in May 1991 and play-off win over Stockport at Wembley a year later, United beat Newcastle and Liverpool in a memorable League Cup run.

With Turner moving upstairs, his assistant and former Posh midfielder Lil Fuccillo stepped in to take United to their highest ever league finish in their debut season in the second flight, tenth in 1992-93.

The two-goal hero of the 1992 Wembley play-off, St Lucia international striker Ken (‘King Kenny’) Charlery, returned for 1993-94 but Peterborough couldn’t maintain form.

ABAX Stadium/Matt Stevens

By the time club owner Barry Fry turned manager in 1996, The Posh were in disarray. Known rather for his foul-mouthed rants in a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary, former Busby babe Fry is rarely given credit for keeping the club afloat while managing the team for nine long years.

With old hand Fry director of football, Darragh MacAnthony the young firebrand chairman and Darren Ferguson the freshman coach, United achieved three promotions, two to the Championship but failure in the 2014 play-offs dented hopes of another go in the second flight.

Selling top scorer, Congolese international Britt Assombalonga, The Posh muddled through in the third tier until the arrival of goal machine Ivan Toney and the second return of Darren Ferguson. Bagging every game and a half, the Northampton-born striker helped United reach a notional seventh place in 2020 before his transfer to Brentford.

Another returnee, Jonson Clarke-Harris, who had had a brief spell as a loanee on Peterborough’s books in 2013-14, filled Toney’s shoes, blasting in goals and notching hat-tricks. It was his brace that put paid to Lincoln’s bid to wrest United’s automatic promotion berth from them by going ahead 3-0 at London Road in  the penultimate game of the 2020-21 campaign – including a stoppage-time penalty that led to wild celebrations among the men in blue.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The Weston Homes Stadium, still known by its century-old name (and location) of London Road, has been the home of Peterborough United since the club’s formation in 1934.

Before, this council-built and council-owned ground was used by United’s predecessors, Peterborough & Fletton United. The new club soon set out its aim to gain full league status, buying the ground from the council and building covered stands at each end, and a part-seated one to replace the solitary wooden grandstand that had stood on the sideline since 1913.

By the time Peterborough accessed the Football League in 1960, there were floodlights and, in time, TV facilities.

The main stand was converted to all-seating in the early 1990s and further modernisations saw capacity reduced to 14,100 – more than twice that stood here for the FA Cup tie with Swansea in 1965, London Road’s record attendance of just over 30,000. Current capacity is just over 15,000.

The home London Road Stand remains a classic terrace end while the all-seated Moy’s End opposite, aka the DESKGO Stand, usually accommodates away fans depending on demand. For all games, too, visiting supporters are also allocated Blocks A and B, Upper and Lower (gates 2-4), of the main North Stand, nearest Moy’s End. The club shop and main ticket office are behind the main stand. Opposite, the BGL South Stand is the family area.

In 2020, an agreement was signed for The Embankment on the city side of the river to be developed, which will include a new 19,500-capacity stadium. Projected completion date is 2023. London Road will be demolished and the site used for housing.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

London Road is about a 10-15min walk from Peterborough station – turn right as you exit, then onto the main road, past the Great Northern hotel. Keep following the main road, past the Park Inn by Radisson hotel and Rivergate shopping centre. Bear right into Rivergate, over the river and the ground is ahead on the left.

The stadium is also served by Stagecoach citi buses from Queensgate bus station just the other side of the main road from the train station. Routes 1, 5 and 6 run to the nearest stop of Fletton, Town Bridge Corner, journey time 5-6mins.

The sat nav code for London Road, possibly referred to as the ABAX or Weston Homes Stadium on certain devices, is PE2 8AL. There’s no parking by the stadium but just across London Road, Pleasure Fair Meadow (PE2 9PB) offers plenty of spaces for £4/day. Alternatively, there’s parking at nearby Riverside (PE1 1EJ) by the Premier Inn on the city side of the Nene, £4.10/up to 3hrs, £2.50/from 5pm. Both are open 24hrs. 

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets are made available around a month or so in advance, through the Ticket Office (Mon 10am-5pm, Tue-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-3pm & afterwards on match days) behind the Main Stand, over the phone (01733 865 674, £2 charge) or online, with print-at-home or collect options.

Admission costs £28 for a seat, £24 to stand in the London Road terrace. Over-65s pay £23/£19, 18-21s £19/£15, 12-17s £11/£9, under-12s are charged £5 across the board. There’s a £2 levy for match-day sales except for under-12s. 

Average gates for the 2018-19 season, and in previous Championship campaigns, were below 10,000 – availability shouldn’t be a problem. 

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Behind the Main Stand, the club shop (Tue, Thur-Sat 10am-3pm) stocks the current first kit, regular blue with white sleeves, the change strip of black with markings in shocking pink, rarely a good choice of colour on a football shirt, and the elegant third-choice shirts of all white with faint hexagonal shapes.

Souvenirs are otherwise pretty standard, sadly the line in top hats now discontinued.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Bearing in mind that the town centre isn’t far either, London Road is one of the best grounds in England for decent pre-match pubs. Set on a century-old Dutch barge, moored by London Road, Charters is Britain’s largest floating real-ale emporium, with live music every weekend and a pan-Asian restaurant on the upper deck. Alongside is Peterborough’s largest beer garden.

Across the river, half-a-dozen venues are within a 10min walk of the ground. Slightly closer to the ground, the Palmerston Arms serves some 14 real ales from the barrels you’ll see behind the bar, from local Batemans brewery in Wainfleet. Away-friendly on match days, it also displays an enviable collection of Posh programmes from the 1950s.

Tucked in down Grove Street, suitably Alpine-looking Swiss Cottage changed its name to Charlie’s AYC after a revered regular, Ilija Obradović, whose footballing daughter Marija co-runs this pre-match favourite. It still welcomes away fans with regularly changing real ales, TV football, pool and live music at weekends.

Slightly hidden, on Park Street off London Road, the Coalheavers Arms is well worth the trek, a home-from-home mecca for real ales, eight on the pump from the Milton Brewery in Cambridge. Real ciders, Czech and Belgian beers also available, plus Indian street food. Vinyl nights might persuade you to stay this side of the river post-match rather than venture into town. 

Further up London Road, the nearest pub to the ground is The Peacock, with decent food, a beer garden with TV screens in summer and live music at weekends. Away fans invariably welcome. 

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