Probably everyone has another team they’re fond of. Most regulars to these pages live, breathe, love Sunderland AFC. Some of us would not dream of having a “second club”. But there are equally loyal fans do who have such a thing in their lives, and indeed third or fourth clubs, too, and many of the rest of us have – or once had – soft spots for another team. This is the first in an occasional series to which Salut! Sunderland readers are warmly invited to contribute. Just drop me a line at the e-mail address you see towards the top of the left-hand column …
It was little more than the romance of a team from nowhere pushing and pushing at a highly obstructive Football League until the tycoons, aldermen and chancers who decided such matters had no real choice. But I fell briefly in love with Posh, not David Beckham’s wife but the Peterborough United of long ago.
Peterborough were finally admitted to the league in 1960, at Gateshead’s expense. They had won the Midland League five times on the trot and had powerful cause to be granted a place in the old Fourth Division. An old pals’ network had stood in their way.
And what happened when they made it? Sank like a stone? Nope. Hovered just above the bottom places? Hardly.
With a record 52 league goals from Terry Bly – sorry to read that he died last year, aged 74, of a heart attack – Posh romped to the championship, scoring an astonishing 134 times and amassing 92 points.
You could call it a lower-order sort of glory seeking. But my flirtation with Peterborough was brief, far too brief even to watch them play at home. I did, however, use paper round money to travel to York, Darlington and Newcastle to see them in action, winners each time (the 1-0 victory at St James’ Park in the FA Cup is one I look back on with special pleasure). And then it was over.
In nearly half a century of following Sunderland, I have gone through what I call fallow spells, periods when work or family or (sad as this sounds) running folk clubs somehow seemed to claim priority. Living away from the North East since my early 20s, I have had to make do with whatever games I have been able to attend and whatever radio or television action I have been able to locate.
But I have never had that “second club”, the team to which I feel a deep enough allegiance to call it my own. Posh turned out to be no more that a fleeting affair, with more than a hint of two-timing (as I had already started going to SAFC games): I still look out for their results, was chuffed when a Sunderland supporter was appointed club secretary and hope they can get back up to the Championship before long. They have been, generally, a credit to the League since admission.
Of the current management, I am not sure what to make of Darragh MacAnthony, the owner, and Barry Fry, director of football.
MacAnthony sounds convivial enough on the radio and is obviously an astute businessman, but that Darren Ferguson business was a little odd, to say the least. Fry’s managerial record, at a host of clubs, is best remembered from Jasper Carrott’s gag, as a long-suffering Birmingham City fan, that his eccentric transfer dealings suggested he “was probably trying to sort out the unemployment problem single-handed”.
And why Posh? This is from Wikipedia:
a) moniker coined in 1921 after the then manager of Fletton United, was reported to say he was “Looking for posh players for a posh new team”. When Fletton United looked to join the Southern League in 1923 they added Peterborough to their name to form Peterborough & Fletton United, in an attempt to gain the backing of businesses in Peterborough. Peterborough & Fletton United went bankrupt in Oct 1932 so the current club are the 3rd to be known as The Posh.
And a few facts, also from Wikipedia:
Since their formation Peterborough United have played their home games at London Road Stadium. Built in the late 19th century, the stadium holds 15,460, though is only licensed to hold just over 14,000 on safety grounds. The stands behind either goal, London Road End and Moyes End, are both still terraced. A 20,000 all-seater stadium to replace London Road has been proposed.
… 30,096, achieved on 20 February 1965 in an FA Cup third round game against Swansea Town.
* English 3rd tier
o Play-Off Winners: 1991-92
o Runners-Up: 2008-09
* English 4th tier
o Winners: 1960-61, 1973–74
o Runners Up: 2007-08.
o Play-Off Winners: 1999-00
* Most league goals scored in a single season: 134 goals, 1960-61 (all-time Football League record)
* Record league victory: Barnet 1 Peterborough 9 (Third Division, 5 September 1998)
* Most points in a season (2pts/win): 92pts (1960/61 – Division Four)
* Most points in a season (3pts/win): 101pts (1981/82 – Division Four)
Most League Appearances: Tommy Robson – 482 (440 starts and 42 as a substitute): 1968-1981
Most Consecutive Appearances: Eric Steele – 148 (124 League, 24 Cup): 1973-1977
Most League Goals: Jim Hall – 122 : 1967-1975
Most League goals in one season: Terry Bly – 52 : 1960-1961 (also an all-time Fourth Division record)
* Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to contribute to this occasional series