Thursday, 8 December 2011

Peterborough United - London Road



Peterborough United FC
ABAX Stadium
London Road
Peterborough
Cambridgeshire
PE2 8AL







Ground Number: 55
Saturday 24th February 2001
Peterborough United 3-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2







TEN FACTS ABOUT PETERBOROUGH UNITED

1:  Peterborough United were formed in 1934 at the town's Angel Hotel. They were established as a replacement for Peterborough & Fletton United who had folded two years earlier.

2:  For the early part of their history, they played in the Midland League. They were highly successful in their last few years in the competition, winning the championship 5 seasons on the bounce prior to their elevation to the Football League.

3:  The Posh were elected to the Football League in 1960 and were an immediate success, winning the 4th Division in their debut season. Their best season came in 1992/93 when they finished 10th in what is now the Championship. Their worst season came twenty years previously when they finished 19th in the bottom tier.

4:  Peterborough United's best ever run in the FA Cup came in 1964/65. That season they beat Salisbury, QPR, Chesterfield, Arsenal and Swansea before losing 5-1 at Chelsea in the Quarter Final.

5:  In the League Cup, the club reached the semi-final during England's World Cup winning year of 1966. Newcastle United, Charlton Athletic and Burnley were dispatched before a 6-3 defeat over two legs to West Bromwich Albion.

6:  Other  notable successes include a 3-1 win over Chesterfield to win the 2014 Football League Trophy,

7:  The club got it's nickname of 'The Posh' from an incident some 13 years before they were formed. In 1921 Fletton United manager Pat Tirrell said he was looking for 'posh new players to join a posh new team' and the name was carried over to the new club. In 2002, Victoria 'Posh Spice' Beckham tried to legally prevent the club using the name 'Posh' as she claimed she held the trademark. She was unsuccessful in her pursuit.

8:  Peterborough United's record incoming and outgoing transfers both involve the same player. Britt Assombalonga was purchased for £1.25M from Watford in July 2013, only to be sold to Nottingham Forest for £8.8M just 13 months later.

9:  Record appearance holder for the club is Tommy Robson who made 482 appearances for The Posh between 1968 and 1981.

10: Peterborough United's record scorer is Jim Hall who scored 122 goals between 1967 and 1975. During the 1960/61 season, Terry Bly netted 52 goals which is also a 4th Division record.




MY PREVIOUS VISITS

I have been to London Road on several occasions over the years, and it has become one of my favourite away games. Sadly the two clubs have grown apart in recent years and it looks as though the only chance of a meeting is in a cup game. And it was in the midst of a cup run that I made my first visit to the Posh's home. Wycombe were in the middle of their famous FA Cup run to the semi final and had just played the most exciting game of that run, beating the original Wimbledon team on penalties at Selhurst Park after extra time. This is the best game of football I have ever seen and will be covered elsewhere on this blog. So on a high after their cup exploits, Wycombe roared into a 2 goal lead within 14 minutes. It was not to last though, the Chairboys showing obvious signs of tiredness as they eventually lost the game 3-2.



But I am going to focus on our last visit there, which came in October 2007. A game in which Wycombe should have had at least a share of the spoils was totally ruined by an utterly incompetent refereeing performance from clown prince Richard Beeby.

As if totally inept performances in the away games against Accrington & Franchise last season was not enough, he proceeded to give an almost totally biased performance to Peterborough United in this afternoon's game, which had been re-arranged from the original Saturday date, due to the International games.



It was Peterborough who started the brightest, unaided by the referee with Craig Mackail-Smith the main culprit when it came to missed chances. Wycombe's first real chance was 14 minutes into the game, with John Sutton narrowly missing his lob over the home keeper Jalal. Chances came and went, Peterborough even having a penalty claim when the ball hit Johnson's arm but it was goalless at the break.

Peterborough took the lead shortly after half time when after poor Wycombe defending, George Boyd slotted the ball home from inside the area. A foul on Sergio Torres presented Wycombe with a free kick and Russell Martin was unlucky to only hit the bar with a great effort. Desperate defending from the resulting melee in the area prevented Wycombe from grabbing a quick equaliser, but they weren't to be denied for long - Torres' great through ball set up Matt Bloomfield to finish with a great shot and it was all square.

Wycombe then pressed further forward, Stefan Oakes unlucky with a powerful drive that just went beyond the far post. George Boyd missed another golden opportunity to regain the lead for Posh but he shot wide when it should have been easier to score. Sergio Torres was then booked for diving after he had a very strong penalty claim. Worse still for Wycombe the resulting break in play gave Peterborough the opportunity to grab a late winner, a real kick in the teeth for Wycombe on an afternoon where hardly any decisions seemed to go their way.



Subsequent visits have included a spellbinding 3-3 draw which I have barely any memory of. I do have a couple of memories of wins though. In 2006 we easily won 2-0 when Barry Fry had taken charge around half an hour before kick off following the resignation of temperamental Scouser Steve Bleasdale's resignation. The 'Big Ron Manager' series was centred around this and you can hardly blame Bleasdale for going bonkers as young striker Danny Crow was a complete shit to deal with. I met Barry Fry, one of my favourite football people at a game in Solihull, though Posh fans were not always in support of him. There was a big pitch invasion at that game and despite terrified stewards trying to keep fans apart, they were bypassed as all the two sets of fans wanted to do was shake hands and applaud each other which is the way it should be.




VISIT 8: PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2-4 QPR (FRIENDLY)

Back in the early part of July, I'd drawn up a list of possible fixtures for this date. Given that I'd wanted a game within walking distance of a Wetherspoons, my choices were very limited. I presented a list of 8 possible games to fellow hopper Anwar and I was fairly pleased when he selected  Peterborough United v QPR. It had been over ten years since I had made the last of my 7 visits to London Road and as well as needing a decent set of pictures of the ground, there had also been a number of changes since my last visit. The main reason for visiting though was there were two Wetherspoons pubs to help me complete the Cider Festival. The previous evening I'd walked down to Wycombe and had a couple of pints, bringing me up to 12 out of 20, just as the halfway point of the fortnight was approaching.



On the day of the game, I awoke around 7 am, having an omelette for breakfast. I had plenty of time to kill so I watched some Youtube videos before getting ready and leaving at 10. I got to Anwar's just before 10:30 and he and his son Hicham were there waiting for me. Typically, after being blazing hot all week apart from my Day off on Tuesday where it rained, it was once again tipping down. We had a good journey across to Peterborough although it was a shame that we couldn't avoid Milton Keynes. Afer navigating a soulless mix of roundabouts and stolen football teams we got on the A1 and got to Peterborough around midday. We parked in a road called Fellowes Gardens which was just under 10 minutes walk from the ground. It sure beats paying when I am trying to stick to a budget. I was glad that the rain had stopped by now too. One thing I'd forgotten was how incredibly close to the town London Road is - within five minutes I was on the edge of the centre. I had to walk across the other side for my first Wetherspoons, The College Arms. It was the one Wetherspoons out of the two in the city that I had not yet ticked. Disappointingly there were no new ciders for me, so I had a half of Somerset Redstreak, which at least was a nice retry. The food front was more positive, with a Chicken Balti and rice for £2.99. It might have been nowhere near curry house standards, but for a few quid, you can't complain. From there I made my way across town to The Draper Arms, which I'd been to before when staying overnight. This was a lot more productive on the cider front with me ticking 5 new ciders thanks to thirds. It was well presented too, on a smart paddle and it certainly set the bar for other Wetherspoons to aspire too. I was chuffed to be up to 17/20 ciders, though I know that the final few will always be the hardest to find.



I was glad of the game lasting for an extra hour after sampling all those as I had to drive home, but as I expected I felt fine at 6 PM. During my last two ciders, I was met my good friend and Braintree Town fan Dan, who had come down for the game. I had to get him a Pepsi as he's forgotten his ID. It was something that I had to be conscious of in my younger days, but being an old git now, I seldom get asked to prove my age. From there we went to B&M Bargains where I got some sweets and drinks for the game before meeting Anwar and Hicham at 2.10. From there we took the short walk back to the ground. I picked up the tickets that I'd pre booked yesterday to save a couple of quid and after getting some outside pictures of the ground, went in. I was chuffed to get a picture with Peter Burrow, the Posh mascot. For some strange reason, there's nothing better for me than to get a picture with a giant rabbit and I was grateful to Dan for taking the picture. The concourse was pretty smart, shared between both tiers of the stand. There was a smart display of Peterborough's kit history including some smashing Argentina style efforts from the late 1970's. We took our seats in the upper tier and I was glad that we were all seated together. I caught up online while I waited for kick off.



The game was being played in four half an hour quarters. For the first two, there would be a couple of former Wycombe players facing up to each other - Anthony Grant for the Posh and Josh Scowen for QPR. The first quarter was quite open and it was the visitors who took the lead on 24 minutes thanks to a close range header from Jon Mackie. The second quarter was a bit more cautious and so at the halfway point, the score remained the same. There was a complete change of sides at halftime and a new ex-Wycombe matchup was in place with Junior Morias for Peterborough facing up to former keeper Matt Ingram in the QPR goal. Ingram had netted Wycombe a tidy fee when he moved to QPR a couple of seasons ago but had failed to oust keeper Alex Smithies from the QPR goal. Morias had not done so well for the first team, though he did look excellent as a youth team player. We released him, he went to St Albans City and did so well there that Peterborough snapped him up last season.



It's fair to say he has made the most of his second chance and has scored a fair few goals. It was he who got the equaliser when the Posh were awarded a penalty. It was just about converted with Morias firing low to Ingram's right. The keeper guessed correctly and got a hand on it, but not enough to stop it going in. Morias got his second soon after and it was the goal of the game, completing a good run with a lovely curling shot to give the hosts the lead for the one and only time in the game. Jack Robinson's left footed shot from a tight angle just outside the six-yard box made it all square and almost immediately QPR retook the lead. This time it was Ebere Eze from close range following a low cross. The game entered its final quarter with QPR looking in control and they added a 4th as Charlie Owens lashed home powerfully from close range after Peterborough failed to clear their lines properly. 

After the game we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the car. The journey home was just as good as the one up and we put Union Jack Radio on for some good tunes on the way home. I had considered stopping in Aylesbury to see if I could knock off the final three ciders in the festival, but decided against it. I dropped Anwar off at 7.10, getting home 25 minutes later. I had a couple of cans of cider whilst catching up online. I went to bed around 10.30, watching some TV before going to sleep.



THE GROUND

LONDON ROAD was one of my favourite grounds to visit back in the day and although there have been a few changes, that still stands. The two older stands in the ground are THE MAIN STAND - a seated stand that holds between 3 and 4000 and has a mixture of different types of seats which makes it appear quite dated. Behind the goal is the LONDON ROAD TERRACE, which holds a few thousand and offers a great atmosphere thanks to the roof design. The only drawback is that being old, the terracing steps are a bit shallow. This used to be matched at the other end which was great as an away fans. However, this has since been replaced by the MOTORPOINT STAND, a new 3000 capacity all seated stand that was built within the last couple of seasons. Completing the setup is the FAMILY STAND. This was completed in the late 1990's and has a capacity of around 4500. It's quite similar to the one at Wycombe, having been built by the same company, but unlike the one at Adams Park, facilities are shared between the upper and lower tier. 

The tea bar at the ground is pretty much as any in football with a fair choice but inflated prices. I didn't check out the bar at the ground but it was called 'The David Seaman Suite' after their former player. Directly outside the ground is an Indian takeaway and a pizza place as well as a pub. The town is only five minutes walk away and offers a great range of outlets including a couple of Wetherspoons, plus several other pubs and takeaways. There is a club shop at the ground which offers a great range for the level at reasonable prices. Back in the day, there was also a programme shop, but I'm not sure if this is here anymore.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
A mixture of new and old (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Right near the town and lots of parking, some free too if you are prepared to walk. (9)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Everyone I encountered was helpful and friendly (7)

4: Value for money
Pre season game for a tenner with a great view, can't grumble at that, especially for an extended game (9)

5: Social Media & Website
Standard football league effort (6)

6: Programme
Didn't purchase one (N/A)

7: Game entertainment
Typical pre-season game, lacked pace at times but six goals was good (6)

8: Tea Bar
Reasonable range at inflated prices (4)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Didn't visit (N/A)

10: Club Shop
Decent choice for the level, prices not too bad. (7)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 80: 58
AVERAGE SCORE 7.25

GROUND PICTURES


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