Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up The Posh

Posh in the 70's



















Me in my Peterborough United shirt.





I became a football fan in 1960 when Peterborough United were elected to the Football League after winning the Midland League 5 years running.Posh replaced Gateshead in the 4th Division.Peterborough were known as 'The Posh' because they had the best stadium of all non-league teams.In their first season in the league Posh swept all before them,winning the 4th Division at the first attempt,scoring 134 goals which is the record number of goals scored by any team ever in any division.It is a record that will never be beaten, to score that amount of goals these days is unimaginable.Terry Bly scored 52 of them.Posh went marching proudly on into the 3rd Division which they would have also won but they were demoted back to the 4th for making illegal payments to the players for a cup win.Vicious treatment by the FA who were scared of Posh's success.
The Posh would not lie down though and built a reputation as giant-killers.One of their greatest moments was when they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup 4th round.34,000 people packed the London Road ground to witness one of the greatest upsets in football history.Peterborough were drawn against Swansea in the 5th round which they drew and the replay was the following Wednesday away in Swansea.3,000 people waited in the rain outside the Evening Telegraph office in Broadway for news of the result.Posh had won!.They were in the last 16 of the FA Cup, the greatest club competition in the world.Posh were drawn against the mighty Chelsea and Peterborough became a ghost town as thousands of Posh fans made the journey to Stamford Bridge.The day ended in disaster though when our captain Vic Crowe broke his leg,this was in the days before substitutes and valiant Posh crashed out 5-1.
Peterbough had some great players back in those halcyon days of the 60's.The greatest of them all was Derek Dougan known as 'The Doog'.There was a great big banner at the games which read 'WE DIG DOOG'.The Posh fans used to sing songs with such great lyrics as-
Now if you're feeling down,
Or if you're feeling sad,
Come to the London Rd end,
And you won't feel so bad,
Come on borough,
Peterborough!

Sadly, the 60's went by without any more success and Posh entered the wilderness years.I grew up (Or did i?) and went off to college in Wrexham,North Wales.One of my best friends was a Manchester United fan and i started going to see Man Utd with him.They were a fading team by the early 70's but it was great to see some of the most famous players in the world particularly George Best. On Saturdays we used to bunk the train up to Manchester,we always got out of the station at Deansgate by giving the little Pakistani ticket collector a cigarette coupon as a ticket and running past him.He must have dreaded Saturdays! We went to loads of away games as well.The furthest i went was to St James Park Newcastle.We left Wrexham early in the morning and travelled up to Manchester then caught the football special to Newcastle.The Newcastle fans were hard as nine inch nails and after the match we were chased back to the station under a shower of bricks and bottles.The train was almost destroyed by the time we got back to Manchester.A rumour had spread through the train that a horde of Man City fans were waiting for our arrival.The Man Utd fans rampaged along the platform and the City fans scarpered.We got back to Chester late at night and missed the connection to Wrexham.We walked the 12 miles from Chester to Wrexham and got home 22hours after we set off and had fought 2 battles.All in the name of Man Utd.
College came to an end and down on my luck i eventually ended up back in Peterborough for a while.I did see Georgie Best one more time.He was playing for Fulham against Posh and he scored one of the best goals i have ever seen.He blasted a pearler of a volley over the goalies head from 20 yards out.Even the Posh fans all cheered.Then came the day i will never forget.
Peterborough were drawn against Manchester United in the 4th round of the cup away from home.Excitment ran through the town and every bus and coach within miles was hired to take 10,000 Posh fans on the journey up to Manchester.I think it was February 1976.The Posh fans drowned out the Stretford End with their chants of "Come On Borough, Come On Borough, Peter-borough.The atmosphere was unbelievable.The game kicked off and Posh went 2-0 down in 10 minutes."Oh no", i thought, fearing a hammering,,i think Posh couldn't believe they were playing against the most famous team in the world at the Theatre Of Dreams (Old Trafford),but urged on by their fans Posh fought back and to the delight of the fans Posh scored to make it 2-1.Game On!,For long stretches of the match Posh totally out played Man Utd on their home turf.It was then i realised i was never really a Man United fan,i just liked Georgie Best.I was Posh through and through.Anyway, time was running out and Posh threw everyone forward to try and get the equaliser but it left them wide open at the back,Man U got a 3rd goal and it was all over.Peterborough fans know the truth though,for 80 mins they had out-played Manchester United.
I live in the West Country now but on Sunday i went back to Old Trafford for the first time in 35 years and we won the play-off final against Huddersfield 3-0 to be promoted to the Championship. The great days are coming back!."Come on borough, Peter-borough". Up The Posh!