Fans watching from the terraces

Peterborough United Football Club officially came into being on 17th May 1934 when a crowded meeting at the city's now long demolished Angel Hotel decided to go ahead with the formation of a new professional club to fill a void left by the collapse of Peterborough and Fletton United some 19 months earlier.

Local councillor Jack Swain, appointed acting Chairman, told the gathering: 'I think that with the revival of old enthusiasm in the city, Peterborough will ultimately find a place in the Football League.' It took 26 years for that dream to come to fruition in 1960, a milestone which, in itself, was the start of a fresh roller coaster ride through every soccer experience from delight to despair.

One thing which seemed to follow on from the days Peterborough and Fletton United was the present club's now world-famous 'Posh' nickname. Its origins stemmed from Pat Tirrel, the manager of Fletton United, who said in the close season of 1921 that he was looking for Posh players to form a Posh team, by Posh he meant good, and it stuck from that. Before that Fletton United were known as the Brickies or Claydobbers due to the brickworks in the area. Fletton added Peterborough to their name in 1923 becoming Peterborough & Fletton United when they joined the Southern League. In October 1932, the club went out of business leaving behind outstanding debts of £248.1s.11p, a not inconsiderable sum in those days and the new club had first to obtain confirmation from the Football Association and Northamptonshire Football Association that there were no liabilities.

Clearance was quickly obtained but the fledgling club almost scored an own goal before it got off the ground. The delight of representatives at the annual meeting of the Midland League, where a membership application was welcomed with open arms, turned to sheer panic when it was realised they didn't have the cash between them to pay a £20 security deposit, a 10 guinea entry fee and 5 guinea subscriptions. Thankfully, Grantham loaned the cash and back home the Posh officials set about raising funds through the sale of five shilling shares, around 150 turning up for a first shareholders' meeting on 31st July 1934 when a ten strong board of directors, headed by Jack Swain, were elected. Incredibly, when Posh resigned from the Midland League in 1960 after their election to the Football League, the original £20 deposit was refunded!

The London Road ground was hired from Peterborough City Council and former Peterborough and Fletton player Fred Taylor was appointed trainer and groundsman with another Fletton stalwart Jock Porter as what was originally described as 'honorary manager. The first player to sign was ex-Fletton favourite Harry 'Bowie' Willis, who signed on amateur forms, he had been in the Peterborough & Fletton United side that achieved the club's greatest FA Cup moment against First Division Birmingham City in 1928, being 3-1 up at half time only to lose 4-3 with the winner being score four minutes from time. The first of 11 full time professionals to be signed was former Sheffield United goalkeeper John Kendall.

The weekly Posh wage bill was £38 and admission charges were set at one shilling for men (5p), six pence (2.5p) for women and the unemployed and, one shilling for transfer to the stand. As the big kick-off approached City Council workmen descended to build new dressing rooms at the rear of the stand and local businesses were eager to help, Midgate outfitters E.B.Jackson donating shirts, Hoyles of Westgate gave towels and George Stokes of Church Street presented a new football.

A crowd of 4,033 turned out on 1st September 1934 to see the Midland League campaign begin in some style with a 4-0 beating handed out to Gainsborough Trinity, the distinction of scoring the first Posh goal going to William Rigby who had been signed from Rochdale.

Posh began in green shirts with a white 'V' on the front, white shorts and black socks with a green top carrying two white hoops and as early as November 1934, when a statutory meeting took place, it was suggested the club should think seriously of seeking a league place.

The Posh through the decades

The 30's

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Posh finished their maiden season in a midtable position. An inconsistent season saw runs of highs and lows. A run of nine games with only one defeat was followed but five defeats on the trot which was followed by no defeats in a run of eight games only for the club to lose the next four games. The high point of the season was a 9-1 victory over Scarborough. The other incident of note took place at London Road in April in a game against Lincoln City Reserves. William Rigby, the Posh outside right, was harshly sent off and the crowd showed their displeasure at the decision. Things were getting heated and Police reinforcements were called for. A crowd gathered outside the ground at the end of the game and appeals were made for them to disperse. In the end, the Referee was smuggled away from the ground in the car of Manager Porter.

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Posh found the second season somewhat harder than the first and suffered two 7-0 defeats, one 6-0 loss and two 5-0 defeats during the season, although Posh did beat Champions Barnsley Reserves 1-0 in the last home game of the season. Posh made their debut in the FA Cup, but it wasn’t a happy start in the competition as Rushden Town won 3-0 at London Road. The club were in a serious financial position and at one point it looked as if the club might not finish the season. The sale of Barrowclough to Chelsea and Jefferson to Queens Park Rangers helped the club through.

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Posh changed to an all green shirt, doing away with the white “V.” It was another inconsistent season with the side again suffering some heavy defeats. Four times Posh shipped five goals, twice six goals and once seven goals. But they did beat Mansfield Town 7-0. It was only an extremely poor Frickley Colliery side that kept Posh off the bottom of the Midland League for part of the season. It was different in the FA Cup, as Posh reached the first round proper for the 1st time. Four straight victories saw Posh draw away to Southern League Dartford, but it was the end of the cup run as the home side won 3-0.

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A significant change was made when the club changed their playing colours from Green and White to Royal Blue and White. The season couldn’t have started any worse as Posh found themselves two goals down after only 55 seconds in the opening game at Scarborough. Posh went on to lose that game 5-2. It was the start of what proved to be the worst season in the club’s history. Not one game was won away from home with only four points being gained from the 21 games played. Things were not much better at home with only two victories before Christmas. Things picked up towards the end of the season with the club winning four and drawing two of their last six home games, including an 8-2 hammering of Denaby, which saved Posh from having to apply for re-election. The FA Cup didn’t lift the gloom as Posh exited the competition in the 2nd Qualifying round. On a sad note, two players died within 36 hours of each other. Tom Savage, who had been a first team player, and Walter Wells who had figured in the Reserves.

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Sam Haden was appointed Player/Manager during the close season, and he was confident of a much better season than the previous one. His optimism looked misplaced when Posh found themselves bottom of the Midland League after losing their first five games. Things then started to look up in the league the club still found themselves next to bottom after beating Boston United 12-0 on New Year’s Eve. This was mainly to do with an FA Cup run which saw the Posh reach the 1st round and play a Football League team for the first time. Posh lost 4-1 at Bristol Rovers on a rain-saturated pitch but the game was much closer than the score suggests. Going back to the Boston United game, which is Posh’s record competitive victory. The week before, the teams met at Boston in a London Midweek League and Boston won 5-2, both teams only made three changes to their lineups. The second half of the season saw the club catch up with their fixtures and finish in a comfortable midtable position. November 1938 saw the opening of a shelter aside the main stand which held 500 fans and was paid for by the Supporter’s Club. During the following week a gale took the roof off, but it was repaired in time for the next home game.

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Posh started the season in great form and won the three opening games, scoring 16 and only conceding two and found themselves second when Hitler’s march across Europe meant football was suspended. After a short break, a wartime League was formed. With all the Football League Reserves teams and three of the non-league teams pulling out it was a much reduced division, so it was to be  played as two competitions.

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The first of these Mini leagues saw Posh finish second to Scunthorpe and Lindsey United even though Posh won 6-3 at the Old Showground. The away game with Frickley was never played due to bad weather.

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The second Mini league started immediately after the first one ended and Posh went on the win it losing only one game, Scunthorpe gaining revenge for the defeat at The Old Showground winning 4-1. Due to the call of war some of the clubs struggled to field sides and Posh were the only team to play all 14 games. Two results stand out in this mini season, an 11-0 win over Gainsborough Trinity, which was played at London Road even though it was meant to be played at Gainsborough, and a 7-6 victory over Frickley Colliery after being 3-2 down after 30 minutes.

The Midland League then ruled that a decider should be played between the two Mini league winners. The game was played at London Road on 18/05/40 and Posh won this game 3-2. The Midland League Officials then stated that the winners would not be declared Champions. It still is not really sorted as to whether Posh were Champions or not as some record books show Posh as champion some not. You make your mind up.

The 40's


A number of clubs from the mini-league were struggling to field teams due to the call to arms and as a result they were unable to continue so Posh were left to only play friendly games. Most of these were against local services sides with five games against an Army X1 and four against a RAF XI among the games played. The crowds for these games were very poor and the club showed a loss at the end of the season, but it was hoped to carry on.


The club hoped to carry on and the players attended pre-season training but despite the desire to carry on it was decided to close for the period of the hostilities. Posh nearly lost the ground as Newall’s looked to take it on as their sports ground, but Posh won through in the end. Only a few colts’ games played with the club in suspension.


A few games were played at London Road but none involving Posh. One of the games, a Freddie Steele XI v AA Command, drew a gate of around 5,000.


Again, some games were played at London Road with a Peterborough XI v West Ham United Army XI drawing a crowd of just over 1,000.


With things looking up in terms of the conflict, the country was looking to try and get back to some kind of normal, so football was back. Still, only friendlies for Posh but at least football was back. The first game at London Road against Nottingham Forest drew a crowd of about 3,200. Most of the games were against local sides but Northampton Town and Queens Park Rangers sent sides to play Posh. Two games of interest towards the end of the season were Posh v An Italian War Prisoners XI which Posh won 5-1 and The 1939 side v The 1945 side in which the 45 team won 6-1.

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Things nearly back to normal and the Midland League opened with a 19 team League. On the 25th August 1945 Posh played their first competitive game since 25th May 1940, it resulted in a 4-2 victory over Notts County Reserves. During the season 54 players turned out for Posh, 52 of them making their debuts. Sixteen of them only played one game with another 11 playing less than five games.

Such was the turnover in players that in the 38 games Posh played the club only fielded the same team in two games. The season also saw Posh achieve their record FA Cup win with a 9-1 victory at Rushden Town, with Ken Laxton scoring six goals, which is also a club record. All this after Rushden had taken the lead. One other game to note was the game between Posh Reserves and Northampton Town A, which ended 4-15. That’s right, fifteen.

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With the war won things were back to normal and a full complement of teams in the Midland League. Things started well for Posh with only one defeat in the first 11 games but things went downhill a little bit after that and Posh had to settle for a moderately successful position of 9th in a season disrupted by bad winter weather which saw the season extended by six weeks and saw Posh play three games in June finally completing the league programme on 14th June.

But in the FA Cup Posh had success. For the first time, Posh made it to the second round and were drawn against local rivals Northampton Town. After a 1-1 draw at both London Road and The County Ground Posh finally bowed out losing 1-8 at Coventry in a 2nd replay. This is still Posh’s record FA Cup defeat. The run to the second round saw the ground attendance record broken twice, 8,135 V Kettering T in the 3rd Qualifying round and 8,697 V Yeovil T in the first round replay. It was only bad weather that kept the crowd down for the game against The Cobblers.

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The end of the season saw Sam Haden leave the club after just short of 10 years as manager, although that time did include the period during the war when the club was in suspension. The season started well with Posh being undefeated and sitting second in the table. Then the season became inconsistent with a good run being followed by a poor run but Posh did finish in the most successful to date position of sixth. One player who did lighten up London Road this season was Eduards(Eddie) Freimanis, Eddie was a Latvian International and joined Posh mid-season.

He straight away became a fans favourite by scoring a hat trick on his debut and continued scoring in the next four games. By the end of the season he had scored 22 goals in 21 games. Posh were surprisingly beaten by amateurs Vauxhall Motors 2-1 in the 4th Qualifying round after going a goal up in the first minute. Jack Blood was named the new manager, it was not a popular choice with the fans and their mood was improved when Freimanis was allowed to leave to join neighbours Northampton Town.

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Posh found themselves third in the Midland League table after 10 games but indifferent form after this saw the Posh slip down the league and finish a disappointing 16th. It had been hoped to build on the sixth position of the season before and Jack Blood had recruited several new players, some with Football League experience including Jim Fallon who had won nine caps for Eire.

The team never really struck good form and after the opening games never managed to win two games on the trot. During the season Posh suffered a 0-10 defeat at home to Bradford Park Avenue Reserves, playing in the Bradford team that day was Ron Greenwood who later managed England, this is still Posh’s record defeat. Posh did manage to reach the first round of the FA Cup but lost at home to Torquay United 1-0 at London Road. The 3rd Qualifying round tie against Kettering Town at London Road saw a then-record crowd of 9,370.

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Jack Blood again recruited players with Football league experience including ex-international George Moulson. Such was the turnover of players that nine players made their debut for the club on the opening day of the season. Things did not look good as the indifferent form from the previous season carried on to the start of the season and Posh found themselves in mid table after the opening six games.

Then things started to improve and six wins and a draw in the next seven games saw Posh move up the table. For once Posh failed in the F A Cup surprisingly losing in the third Qualifying round at Corby Town. At Christmas, Jack Blood said he would not be staying on as Manager after his contract expired in May blaming a lack of confidence in the board. If was no surprise when Blood left the club early in February and March saw Bob Gurney named as the new man in charge.

Despite all this going on the team’s form didn’t suffer and a run of eleven games without a defeat saw the team move up the table. A final position of fourth was by far the best showing in the Midland League. At the Football League meeting, Posh's application for entry got five votes, it was the first votes Posh had received in the four applications they had made.

The 50's

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Jack Fairbrother soon started to put his stamp on the team bringing in experienced players including, Johnny Anderson, ex Nottingham Forest and Manchester United and Ex international Paddy Sloan. Jack had captured the imagination of the Posh fans and the crowds flocked to London Road with the first two home games seeing gates of 9,101 and 8,831. Things looked good with Posh gaining 5 points from the first 3 games, but only two points from the next six games saw the club sink into a midtable league position and things never got better than that league wise. The F A Cup was a different story with Posh making it to the 2nd round beating a Football league team and setting ground records along the way. The run started at Market Harborough where Symington’s Recreation were beaten 5-2 in front of a ground record of 2,760. Next was the short trip to Spalding where another ground record of 6,228 saw Posh score two late goals to draw 2-2, after winning the replay it was on to Corby for yet again a ground record of 10,239 who witnessed a goalless draw. Posh won the replay and were finally drawn at home. The tie against Bedford town saw 15,327 pack into London Road, yes, a ground record, and they saw Posh win a keenly fought contest 2-1. Torquay United visited London Road in the First Round Proper and became the first Football League team to lose to Posh 2-1. High flying Bristol Rovers ended Posh’s interest in the cup, winning 1-0 at London Road. To create the extra space for another expected record gate at the Bristol game the Shelter that had been erected in 1938 was moved to the Glebe Road side and hundreds of tons of rubble and ash were piled up either side of the main stand. It was hoped that this would create space for another 2,000 fans. As it was the crowd was 42 short of a new ground record. During the season Jack Fairbrother became the first, and so far, the only, Goalkeeper to score for Posh when he scored from the penalty spot in a 4-0 win over Bradford City Res. Things looked up at the Football League meeting where Posh polled the most votes in the Southern Section, but with only six votes it was still a long way off getting into the Football League                                                                                                               

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During the close season, a cover was erected at the Moy’s Lane end and Posh opened the season in great style with nine wins in the first ten games. This saw the club top of the Midland League, a position the club held until December. During this run, Posh beat Gainsborough Trinity 9-2 with Dougie Taft scoring five of the goals. Things slowed down after this and despite an indifferent run the club still finished runners-up to Nottingham Forest Reserves. The two teams clashed near the end of the season and set a new Midland League crowd record for London Road when 12,665 turned up to see Posh win 3-1. The FA Cup again saw Posh beat a Football League team when Aldershot were beaten 2-1 in the second round, to add to the clubs growing reputation as giant killers, in front of 16,743 fans, a ground record. The reward for this was a trip to Wales to take on first division Cardiff City. It was the first time they had played a team from the top division, and they didn’t disgrace themselves, in fact, they took an early lead, and although Cardiff equalised ten minutes later it was only two goals in the last ten minutes that saw the Welshmen home 3-1. This game was Jack Fairbrother’s last game for the Posh. He had announced a month earlier he would be leaving to take over the Manager’s role at Coventry City but was staying with Posh while they were still in the FA Cup. George Swindin was announced as the new Player/Manager. At the annual Football League meeting Posh received 18 votes, the club's best return but it was 14 short of Walsall’s 32.

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The close season saw a cover added to the London Road end to mirror the one at the Moy’s end. George Swindin started to put together a squad and two more pieces of the great side that were to dominate the Midland League were added with Dennis Emery and Peter McNamee making their debuts. Posh started the season in great form and dropped only three points in the first ten games which saw them top of the table. Four draws in the next five games saw Posh lose top position, which they never regained. Included in those five games was a 0-0 draw with Kings Lynn in front of a crowd of 13,217, a new highest attendance for a Midland League game at London Road at the time. Despite George Swindin’s optimism and enthusiasm, and quite obviously the formation of a great Midland League side, Posh could only finish third, three points behind Champions Notts County Reserves. This was despite losing the fewest games in the league that season, but 16 draws proved costly as turning four of them into wins would have won the title for Posh. The FA Cup saw Posh fail to make the first-round proper losing to Boston United 1-2 after taking a first-minute lead. Posh were optimistic of gaining entry into the Football League after last season’s result and again it was Walsall having to apply for re-election but surprisingly Posh only got 16 votes, two less than the season before, against Walsall’s 33.

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Posh became Champions at last and what a season. After losing the second game of the season Posh went on a run of 30 games without defeat. Posh went top of the table on Christmas Eve and stayed there until the end of the season but it was not until the second last game of the season that the title was confirmed with a 2-1 win away at Hull City Reserves in front of a miserly crowd of around 200. Posh’s points total of 77 was a record for a 24 team Midland League. Goals were flying in and Posh’s total of 137 was only three short of yet another Midland League record. There was success in the FA Cup when after winning away at Ilkeston in the 4th Qualifying round, in front of a ground record crowd, Posh beat an Ipswich Town team managed by Alf Ramsey, who managed England to World Cup glory in 1966, 3-1 at London Road in front of not only a Ground record crowd but also the biggest crowd of the first round. Posh went out in the second round to Swindon Town in a replay at London Road. After the Swindon Game the Mayor, Lady Benstead, cut the first sod for the foundations of the new main stand, and by the end of the season work had started on the new Grandstand but the fans were somewhat downhearted when the annual trip to the Football League meeting saw Posh top the non-league teams but with only 8 votes it was a long way off being enough.

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George Swindin made a number of signings to strengthen an already strong squad, including in the signings were ex-international Henry Cockburn, Jack Walls, and Ray Smith. The season started with a home victory against Boston United in front of what was Posh’s record Midland League gate of 13,431. On the 17th September Posh lost at home to Nottingham Forest Reserves, this was the last time Posh lost at home in the competition. Posh were never out of the top three in the League and claimed the title with 5 games to go with a 4-1 at Wisbech Town. Posh, in making it two Championships on the trot, broke the points total they had set the season before and also broke the Midland League goalscoring record with 148 goals. It was also a successful season in the FA Cup with Posh beating Football League sides Bradford Park Avenue and Lincoln City in making it to the 4th round for the first time in their history where Huddersfield Town proved too strong for Posh in front of a crowd of 48,735 which included an estimated 13,000 from Peterborough. At the Football League meeting Posh, with 7 votes, was again the top non-league team but the door stayed shut.

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The new stand which housed 4,000 was open replacing the one that was built in 1923. To let the ground that the old stand stood on settle the strip in front of the new stand was not used and the players got to the pitch by walking over planks. Posh started their quest for a third Midland League Championship by winning their first eleven games scoring 46 goals and only conceding 8 before Lincoln City Reserves put a stop to this run by beating Posh 1-0 at Sincil Bank. This was only a minor setback as Posh powered on to make it a hat-trick of Championships, the title being confirmed in a 0-0 draw at Scarborough with three games left to be played. In the 22nd home game of the season, Posh dropped their first, and only, point at London Road when Bradford Park Avenue Reserves equalised in the last minute. During the season Posh went on a goal spree again smashing the Midland League scoring record with 160 goals. They beat Denaby United 9-0, Doncaster Rovers Reserves 8-2, Corby Town 8-1 and Bradford City Reserves 7-0 but Posh did lose 3-7 at Grantham which was perhaps the outstanding result of the season. Posh were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 1st round, Posh were 3-0 up at home to Torquay United but ended up drawing 3-3 before losing the replay in Devon 1-0. The normal old boys' act at the Football League meeting saw Posh poll 15 votes, top non-league team, but still 20 short of Crewe Alexandra’s total.

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During the close season, the pitch was moved 25 yards towards the new Grandstand and the Glebe Road side of the ground was enlarged. The Midland League also underwent some major changes during the close season as all but one of the Reserve sides left to join the newly formed North Regional League. Four of the non-league sides also left joining the Southern League leaving only 9 sides. It appeared at first that the Midland League would be forced to close down but after discussions with clubs attached to the North Eastern League, who faced a similar problem because of the North Regional League, it was agreed to accept 8 teams. Two others joined from the Central Alliance bringing the membership up to 19. But with clubs as far north as Ashington and Blyth it was a misnomer to call it the Midland League. The big news at Posh was that George Swindin was to leave to become manager of Arsenal. Jimmy Hagen was handed the Manager’s job and Posh got on with the task of winning the much-reduced Midland League. Posh did that with ease, never being out of the top three and were never headed after going to the top at Xmas. The Championship was confirmed with three games to go. Such was Posh’s dominance in the League that they went through the season undefeated, only dropping 4 points and were only behind in five games. Posh made it to the third round of the FA Cup and after a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage, Fulham won 1-0 at London Road. In the Fulham team were George Cohen, Jimmy Hill, and Johnny Haynes. Posh were so close but still 5 votes short of entry into the Football League. Aldershot with 31 votes edged out Posh who got 26 their best return yet.

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Posh were made to fight hard for their 5th title. Apart from a brief spell at the top of the league at the beginning of September, Posh spent most of the season chasing North Shields and Ashington and in mid-April, it looked like Posh would need to settle for second place. Posh were 4 points behind North Shields with a game in hand but only five games to play. Inexplicably North Shields lost form and only picked up 2 points from their last 4 games whereas Posh picked up 9 points from their last 5 games to be confirmed as Champions with a 5-2 win over Consett in the last game of the season. With two more teams dropping out of the League a Supplementary Cup Competition was played for and Posh won it beating Frickley Colliery 2-1 in the final. The FA Cup saw another successful season and they reached the 4th round after beating three Football League clubs on the way, Shrewsbury Town 4-3 after being 0-2 and 2-3 down. Walsall 3-2 after being 0-1 down and Ipswich Town 3-2 after being 0-1 and 1-2 down. Posh finally went out to two late goals at 1st Division Sheffield Wednesday. As Dennis Emery failed to comply with Manager Hagen’s instructions in the Sheffield game, he was dropped from the first team the week after. He then was fined by the club for missing training and finally suspended for breach of club rules and didn’t figure for the rest of the season. February saw the official opening of the Floodlights with a friendly game against George Swindin’s Arsenal, the game was drawn 1-1 with 17,655 fans watching. Further friendlies under the lights were played against Blackpool, West Ham, and Middlesbrough with Posh winning all three games. Posh finally made it to the Football League with 35 votes, they finish 2nd in the vote behind Oldham Athletic who had 39 votes and it was Gateshead, with only 18, who fell through the trap door. The other two teams to be re-elected were Hartlepool (34) and Southport (29).

The 60's

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So Posh made it to the Football League at last. The Club and Emery sorted out their differences and although Manager Hagan signed eight new players only two, Derek Norris and Terry Bly appeared on the team sheet when the season kicked off on 20th August 1960 against Wrexham in front of 17,294 fans. Norris only figured in five games, but Bly went on to play in every League and Cup game and score 54 goals, 52 in the League and 2 in the F A Cup. The honor of scoring the first League goal fell to Emery who netted at the Moy’s end halfway through the first half. Posh started the season in fine form and it was the seventh game of the season before they were beaten. During this run Posh beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park in front of a then-record fourth-tier crowd of 36,478, it has only been bettered once since. The following week Posh did the double over Palace winning 4-1 with Bly becoming the first Posh player to score a hat trick in the Football League. This win saw Posh go top of the table, and apart from two days at the end of September, they were never out of the top two for the rest of the season. Bly went on to score 5 hat tricks and twice he scored four goals in a game. By the second week of December Posh had only been beaten 5 times in 22 League games. They then went on a run of 17 games undefeated, winning 15 of them. This run included two 7-1 and two 6-0 victories and Bly managed to score an incredible 9 goals in 3 games over the Xmas period. The promotion was assured in the last of these games, a 1-0 win at York City, with seven games left to complete the season. It was just as well for after only losing 5 games in the first 39 they then lost 3 of the last 7. As well as the goalscoring feats of Bly all the other forwards chipped in with double-figure returns and Posh finished the season having scored 134 League goals, a Football League record which may never be beaten. Posh also had a good time in the F A Cup beating Dover 4-1, Torquay 3-1, and Portsmouth 2-1 all away before being drawn at home to 1st Division Aston Villa. On a paddy field of a pitch 28,288 fans, a ground record at the time, saw Posh take the lead only for Roy Banham to, unfortunately, put through his own goal to take the tie back to Villa Park. Posh pushed Villa all the way in the replay and were unlucky to lose 2-1 in front of 64,531 fans with many more, some with tickets locked out of the ground. This is the largest attendance that Posh have played in front of. The Portsmouth game was later one of the games that was named in a match-fixing scandal that rocked football. In the first season of the Football League Cup, The Posh lost away to Preston North End in the first round. This season also saw what older fans will say was the greatest lineup for the club. Walls, Whittaker, Walker, Rayner, Rigby, Ripley, Hails, Emery, Bly, Smith, McNamee. This was the named team in 23 of the 53 games played this season.

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Posh fielded the infamous team lineup for the first seven games of the season and it was never to be fielded again. In the first game of the season at home to Hull City, Peter McNamee scored after only 3 minutes which was the first goal in the Football League for season 1961/62. Posh started life in Division 3 with four straight wins and found themselves top of the table. One point in the next three games saw them slip to 9th, the lowest position they found themselves in all season. In fact, Posh were on the fringe of promotion all season only to finish 5th, four points behind 2nd placed Grimsby Town. But it all could have been so different but for a tragic event on the 13th November when Posh star Dennis Emery was involved in a car accident at Nobby Gates, a notorious accident blackspot while traveling to London Road to meet the team before traveling on to Norwich where The Posh were due to play Colchester United in an FA Cup 1st Round second replay. The first game at London Road saw Posh 3-0 up with 11 minutes to go before Colchester rallied to draw 3-3. In the replay at Layer Road, Emery scored with only 2 minutes left on the clock to draw Posh level at 2-2. The clubs looked to play the second replay in London but after both Arsenal and Spurs had turned down their requests Chelsea was considered but in the end, the clubs agreed to play at Carrow Road. If one of the London clubs had let the tie go ahead on their ground Dennis would have been picked up at his Eynesbury home and he wouldn’t have had to travel to Peterborough. If he had been fit and playing would Posh have gone on and achieved promotion? We will never know. Posh beat Colchester 3-0 and reached the F A Cup 4th round for the third consecutive season beating Newcastle United away in the third round but losing somewhat tamely 1-3 to Sheffield United. Posh again lost in the 1st round on the Football League Cup when Blackburn Rovers won 3-1 at London Road.

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The close season saw both ends of the ground completely covered it also saw two of Posh’s stars of the Midland League leave the club, Jack Walls moved to King’s Lynn and Norman Rigby moved to Boston United. Norman was a stalwart for 11 seasons at London Road, he had made 436 appearances for Posh scoring 4 goals. The biggest surprise for the fans was the sale of Terry Bly to League rivals Coventry City for £10,000. Terry had scored 81 goals in 88 games, a scoring rate unlikely to be equalled. Posh started the season in a steady fashion and it came as a surprise when on 18th October dramatic news broke that Jimmy Hagan had been sacked. It was reported that he was asked to resign at the regular weekly board meeting and when he refused, he was sacked. It was even more of a surprise as the club were 2nd in the League at the time. Johnny Anderson was made Caretaker Manager and by the time it was announced that Jack Fairbrother would be, for the second time, Manager of Posh Johnny Anderson had guided Posh to the top of the table and they were still sitting proudly top when Fairbrother took over on the 1st January. By then the big freeze had set in and totally decimated the league and cup programme and it was 7 weeks before Posh played another league game. Posh did lose a much-postponed F A Cup tie at Derby during the period which saw Dennis Emery make his comeback 449 days after his accident. Posh did get to play two games during this period. The first was a friendly against Leicester City on a snow-covered Brotherhoods Sports Ground, Posh lost 1-2. The second caused some controversy. Posh were due to play Hull City on the 2nd February but when the game was called off a number of Cambridge United players who had come to watch the match agreed to play a friendly. The result was given out on television. Unfortunately, when asked for details neither the local press nor in fact some of the directors knew of the game. Posh won 6-3 and the attendance was given as 30. Some of the local press criticised Posh for the lack of communication over the affair and this led to a dispute that lasted several weeks and led to Posh withdrawing facilities from some of the local press. This in turn led to Posh launching its own newspaper the “Posh Post” on 13th March.  The layoff didn’t do Posh any good and only six wins in the remaining 19 games after the enforced layoff saw Posh finish 6th at the end of the season. Again, Posh fell at the first hurdle in the Football League cup losing 1-6 against Aston Villa. January had seen work start on the terracing on the Glebe Road side of the ground, most of the cost for this coming from the Supporters Club highly successful “Daily Draw”, but the bad winter had held work back and it wasn’t completed by the end of the season.

63/64 Div 3 10TH P46 W18 D11 L17 GF75 GA70 PTS47

Work continued on improving the London Road ground and the close season saw the Glebe Road side terrace completed. Manager Jack Fairbrother was looking for a team that was capable of winning promotion to Division Two and so there were a number of comings and goings. W Duff and B Wright had already been signed when Fairbrother set out on a “Secret Mission” to Germany. When he returned it was announced that Posh had signed Derek Dougan. A number of clubs had been after his signature but The Doog was impressed in the tenacity of Fairbrother in tracking him down so settled for Posh. Other signings were M Emmerson, R Pearce, P Thompson, F Rankmore, and K Smith, while leaving the club were Ronson, Morton, Simpson, Rayner, Sheavills, and Dennis Emery, the last three were players who had seen service in the Midland League for Posh. Emery had been offered teams but turned them down, it ended an eight-year association with Posh, he had never really recovered from his car accident some 20 months earlier. Six of the new signings made their debuts on the opening day of the season which saw Posh beat Wrexham 5-2 with old stager Peter McNamee scoring a hat trick and Smith and Dougan adding the others. The bright start didn’t last and despite winning four games on the trot by the end of September Posh found themselves in the bottom half of the table by Christmas and out of the FA Cup, losing a 1st round replay at Watford as well as the usual loss in their first Football League Cup game at Millwall. The new year didn’t get any better and only 3 points were picked up in the first seven games of 1964, including a run of five games without scoring. This poor run led to Jack Fairbrother resigning. Johnny Anderson again took over as Care-taker manager and in his first game in charge Posh put an end to the winless and scoreless, a run of 499 minutes, by beating Bristol City 4-2. Posh had a better end of the season but could only finish 10th in the league. The second-last game of the season saw Posh beat a Coventry City side that won the Division 3 title 2-0 in front of what was and still is the record League attendance at London Road of 26,307. Two days later Gordon Clark was named the new Posh Manager

64/65 Div 3 8th P46 W22 D7 L17 GF85 GA 74 PTS51

For the second season running Posh kicked off the new season with a new Manager. Gordon Clark went about rebuilding the team by signing nine new players, the biggest name among these was Vic Crowe, and releasing eleven, among the players to leave was Ellis Stafford, who had played for Posh in the Midland League. The opening game saw five new signings make their debuts but they couldn’t stop losing the first game of the season for the first time since 1951. Much like the previous season, Posh blew hot and cold. Earlier in September Posh sat 2nd in the table but three defeats saw them plummet to 14th. The league season carried on very much like this with a good run followed by a poor run. Christmas came with Posh 8th and that’s where they finished up at the end of the season. For once Posh didn’t lose their first Football League Cup game, but they could only draw 0-0 at Leicester and then lose the replay 0-2 at London Road. The success of the season came in the F A Cup. The 1st round saw non-league Salisbury take the lead before Posh got on top and win 5-1. Round two saw Posh 3-1 up with 10 minutes left at QPR, but the Londoners fought back to force a replay. Things looked bleak in the replay with QPR one up as the game moved into injury time only for Peter Deakin to score with almost the last kick. Straight from the kick-off, Deakin scored again and Posh moved on to the third round and a visit to Chesterfield. A hat trick of headers by Derek Dougan saw Posh win 3-0 at Saltergate and the reward was a Fourth-round home tie against Arsenal. The game was played on the day they buried Winston Churchill and a minute’s silence was held before the game kicked off and the players wore Black armbands. A then-record crowd of 30,056 packed into London Road and the game looked to be going predictably the way of the 1st division giants when they led 1-0 at halftime. It stayed that way until the 72nd minute when Dougan leveled the scores. This lifted Posh and with only four minutes to go Peter McNamee scored from a Barnes centre to see Posh into the fifth round for the first time in their history. The club were a little disappointed to only draw 2nd Division Swansea Town in the next round but at least it was at home. A new record crowd of 30,096, which will never be beaten, saw a dour game that ended 0-0. The replay was more open, and two Peter Deakin goals gave Posh the victory 2-0 and with it a trip to Chelsea in the 6th Round. A crowd of 63,635, the second-highest crowd Posh have ever played in front of, filled Stamford Bridge and the game was as good as over by the 15th minute. A challenge by Bert Murray, later to play for Posh, on Vic Crowe in the second minute saw the Posh man carried off and Posh found themselves 3-0 down by the quarter-hour. A limping Crowe did return to the field of play and scored just before halftime but Posh were 4 down by then. Chelsea eased off in the second half and only added one more goal just before the end. It was a sad end to a romantic cup run for Posh. March saw Ollie Conmy become the first Posh player to be capped when playing for Eire against Belgium, the first of his five caps.

65/66 Div 3 13th P46 W17 D12 L17 GF80 GA 66 PTS46

The relative failure in the league the previous season saw the inevitable transfer activity and it was no surprise that Derek Dougan was sold, Leicester City paid £25,000 for his services and Posh lost a larger-than-life character who had captured the hearts of Posh fans. Five other players left the club and Gordon Clark brought in nine new faces, but with little or no financial outlay. In their pre-season game, Posh played two games in Germany winning 3-2 in Bremerhaven and 4-2 in Bremen. Six of the new signings made their debuts in the opening League game of the season with one of them, Mike Hollow, scoring the only goal of the game. There were two other firsts in this game. Posh wore a new strip which consisted of Blue shirts with two White hoops across the chest and substitutes were allowed for the first time, but only for injuries. Peter Deakin was the first to wear the number 12 shirt but the first player to be used as a substitute was Mike Beesley, who replaced Harry Orr in the third League game. In fact, Posh only used six subs all season. It was another season of inconsistency for Posh and after the opening week, Posh never got above 8th in the league and were 18th at one point before finishing 12th. Posh couldn’t repeat the success in the F A Cup they had had the previous season and went out in the second round at Shrewsbury Town, losing 2-3, after struggling to beat Kidderminster Harriers in the first round 2-1. After going out at the first attempt in each of the previous five seasons in the Football League Cup Posh managed to win a game but better than that they won four and got through to the Semi-Final. Posh had a bye in the first round and a second-round visit to 1st Division Newcastle United saw Posh break that losing run in the competition, winning 4-3. Charlton Athletic were the third-round visitors to London Road, two late goals for Johnny Byrne, to complete his hat trick, saw Posh again win 4-3. Round four saw Posh travel to Millwall and another Byrne hat trick helped Posh win 4-1 and this against a Millwall side that hadn’t lost at home for nearly a year. Round five saw the best team in the Football League at the time visit London Road. Burnley sat proudly top of Division One but four goals in a 15-minute spell in the second half saw Posh win 4-0. West Bromwich Albion were the Semi-Final opponents and Posh were hopeful of reaching the final after only losing 1-2 at The Hawthorns but the run came to an end when an Ally Brown hat trick helped WBA win 4-2 at London Road giving the Midlander’s a 6-3 aggregate win. This season also saw the end of an era when Peter McNamee played his last game for Posh, Peter was the last remaining player who had played for Posh in the Midland League. He said after that he knew his days were over when the manager asked him to tackle back.

66/67 Div 3 15th P46 W14 D15 L17 GF66 GA71 PTS43

For once the close season saw very little transfer action with only four players joining Posh and two leaving. Not that it was not a busy time for some players as Frank Rankmore and Tony Millington were taken on tour to South America with Wales and earned international caps. With the lack of new faces at the club for the third time in the club’s history, no player made his debut in the opening game of the season. The season started brightly and Posh were top of the table after four games and were unbeaten for the first six but then the inconsistency that had blighted the club in recent seasons recurred and with 12 games left in the season Posh found themselves 20th, one place above the relegation zone. Four wins and only three defeats in the last 12 games saw Posh finish 15th. It had been a disappointing season but at least Posh had preserved their Third Division status after it looked for a period they might lose. After the previous season's success in the Football League Cup Posh were not so successful this season going out to local rivals Northampton Town in a second-round replay. Posh did better in the F A Cup, easily beating Hereford United 4-1, Colchester United 3-0, and Bedford Town, who had Posh idol Dennis Emery in their side,  6-2 which earned Posh a trip to the North East to meet Sunderland. Things didn’t go well for Posh at Roker Park and they were three down after only 19 minutes. It was 4-0 at halftime and 6-0 five minutes into the second half, Tommy Watson did pull a goal back but there was no way back and Sunderland finished up winning 7-1. The fallout from this game was felt in the next season.

67/68 Div 3 9th P46 W20 D10 L16 GF79 GA67 PTS50

The 1967/68 season was to be one of the most momentous in the club’s history, but unfortunately not for the right reasons. Gordon Clark tried to rebuild his side for a promotion push with two players being released and five new faces arriving, including a young John Wile from Sunderland. The season opened with the threat of a Football Association investigation hanging over the club. That was forgotten as the club won four and drew two of their first six league games and found themselves top of the table. They had however already gone out of the Football League Cup at the first hurdle, again, losing to  Northampton Town 2-3. Posh lost the next two games but the first shock of the season came on 28th September when Manager Gordon Clark resigned after a 2.75-hour board meeting, the board initially turned it down but Clark refuse to withdraw his resignation. The meeting was originally called to discuss offers for two players but after the meeting, Clark said: “I have resigned and that is it, my mind is made up. I can’t carry on and that’s the end of it”. Clark refused to give the reason he resigned but said he would provide an explanation at a later date. Norman Rigby took over as Caretaker Manager. On 8th November it was reported that a joint Football Association and Football League Commission would meet to discuss the charges leveled against Posh on the 16th November. The charges made against the club were.

1) That Peterborough United having failed to produce vouchers for season 1965/66 had contravened Rule 44 (d).                                        2) That vouchers in respect of curtain players omitted details of amounts received as required by FA Rule 25 (a).                                        3) That extra bonuses were offered to players, in contravention of League Regulation 41, to beat Sunderland in the fourth round of the FA cup in season 1966/67, which was recorded in the minutes at a Board Meeting.
4) That signing on bonus were paid to players in contravention of League Rule 42, from funds made available by the Supporters Club, which was recorded in the Statement of Accounts of the Company for the year ending 31st May 1966.

On 17th November the results of the FA and Football League Commission’s meeting was announced. The club was fined £500 on Counts 1 and 2, the Commission recommended on the other two charges that the Football League should impose the severest penalties provided for in the League regulations for the breach of the League rules. Posh didn’t have to wait long for the Football Leagues' decision and on 21st November the League Management Committee informed Posh officials that under regulation 15(a) they were to be demoted to the Fourth Division at the end of the season. The Club and supporters were devastated but rallied around the team. Norman Rigby was confirmed as the full-time manager and at first, it seemed the demotion had not affected the team and Posh still sat third in the table at Christmas but once the club was out of the FA Cup, losing 1-0 to Portsmouth, Norman Rigby was aware that he had to guide Posh through 19 more games knowing that regardless of results they were to be relegated. One player was heard to remark “That’s it then, back to those friendly games next week”. So with nothing hanging on the results, Posh’s form did suffer and they finished the season in 9th place, only six points off a promotion spot. The last two games saw Posh beat local rivals Northampton Town 4-0 at London Road and a visit to Layer Road resulted in a 5-1 victory over Colchester United. These performances seemed to add weight to Manager Rigby’s argument that Posh would bounce straight back into the Third Division. We will never know that if there had been something to play for in the games after the ruling would the results have been different and would Posh have gained promotion.

68/69 Div 4 18th P46 W13 D16 L17 GF60 GA57 PTS42

With Posh back in the 4th Division, there wasn’t much transfer activity during the close season although Frank Rankmore did sign for Northampton Town for £12,000 and Peter Price arrived from Liverpool on a free. The City and fans were behind the club and were confident of a quick return to Division Three. Things didn’t quite work out like that and with only 3 points from their first six games, Posh found themselves 21st in the table. Posh won their next two games to move up the table, one of which saw Kevin Keegan make his Scunthorpe United debut. But with Posh only winning three of the next ten League games, Manager Norman Rigby went out and splashed a club record of £20,000 on Tommy Robson from Newcastle United. Rigby hoped this would turn the club’s fortunes around but his debut away at Workington was a bit of a culture shock for Tommy who was used to playing at grounds like St James Park and Stamford Bridge. Posh lost that game 0-1 but on Tommy’s home debut the week after things looked a great deal better with a 6-1 victory over Bradford PA, Tommy scoring one of the goals. But it was a false dawn and after picking up only one point in the next three games Rigby resigned as manager on 8th January. Jim Iley was given the role of Player/Manager for a trial period, he was also made Captain, it was the first time Posh had had a Player/Manager since George Swindin in 1954. Iley’s reign in charge did not get off to the best of starts and it was eight games before Posh won a game, in fact by the time he was offered the job full-time Posh had only won 3 of the 13 games he had overseen. At this time having to apply for re-election was a real threat but an upturn in form saw five wins in six games to finish the season in 18th position only three points above the re-election zone. This is the joint-worst finishing position in the club's Football League history. Things were not much better in the FA Cup as Posh exited at the first round losing 1-3 at Bristol Rovers. The one bright spot in the season was the League Cup, a competition that Posh had not achieved great things in previous seasons. After beating Doncaster Rovers in a replay in the first round Posh were drawn at home to Division One new boys, Queens Park Rangers. A Jim Hall hat trick saw Posh home 4-2. Another top-flight team, West Bromwich Albion, visited London Road in round 3 and were duly dispatched 2-1 with Peter Price scoring on his starting debut. Round Four gave Posh a trip to White Hart Lane but it proved a step too far for Posh and Spurs triumphed 1-0 thanks to a Jimmy Greaves headed goal. One other game worth mentioning didn’t even finish, on 14th December the Posh v Halifax Town game was abandoned at half time becoming the first and so far, only first team game to suffer this fate.

69/70 Div 4 9th P46 W17 D14 L15 GF77 GA70 PTS48

After the dismal performance the season before Jim Iley set about rebuilding the side and nine players left the club including Welsh international Tony Millington to Swansea Town for £5,000. The biggest name of the incoming five signings was ex-England International Eddie Holliday. One other notable sighing was apprentice Chris Turner. Posh traveled overseas to play five pre-season games in Ireland winning four and drawing the other and things looked good for the coming season. The season started with Player/Manager Jim Iley creating history by becoming the first Posh player to be sent off since joining the Football League. By the end of September Posh had won all five home League games but had only one away and sat fifth in the table. It was mid-November before Posh lost at home in their tenth home game, but their away form was still holding them back with only two wins in nine games. Posh bounced back from that first home defeat by beating Oldham Athletic 8-1 four days later, still the record home Football League victory. Although Posh were always on the fringe of the group chasing promotion their away form let them down badly winning only four games. This meant Posh had to settle for 9th place in the final table. The only positive outcome from the season, if it can be regarded as that, was by scoring 77 goals, the club qualified for the new Watney Cup competition for the next pre-season. Posh made it to the fourth round of the FA Cup starting with a 700-mile round trip to Cornwell to face Falmouth Town. Posh won 4-1 but it was late in the game they made it safe. The second round saw Posh face another West Country side. This time It was Plymouth Argyle who had to travel to London Road and on a snow-covered pitch, Posh won 2-0. It was a shorter trip for Posh, to Rotherham United, in the third round and thanks to a Man of the Match performance from keeper Mick Drewery, including a penalty save, Posh returned home with a 1-0 victory. The fourth-round draw saw Posh face a Third Division team for the third tie running. This time the trip to Kent to play Gillingham proved less successful. Despite taking the lead Posh lost 1-5. The Football League Cup saw the usual exit at the first attempt going down 5-2 at Luton Town in a replay.

The 70's

70/71 Division Four 16th P46 W18 D7 L21 GF70 GA71 PTS 43

Despite the relative poor form in the previous 18 months of Jim Iley’s managership, he was awarded a new three-year contract with Posh. Such was the financial state of the club that the Supporters Club had handed over a cheque for £2,500 to ensure the club could pay the players wages during the close season. 

The close season had seen Cambridge United voted into the Football League, replacing Bradford PA, meaning more local derbies. Among the four new signings was David Pleat. The Club took part in the Watney Cup Competition pre-season, this was a competition for high scoring teams who didn’t achieve promotion the previous season. Posh went out in the first round losing 4-0 to Second Division Hull City at London Road.

The season started with a point from a trip to Stockport before beating Aldershot at home. However, no points from the next two away trips saw Posh plummet to 18th in the table,before an unbeaten run of six games saw Posh move up to 6th, but then the old problem of inconsistency kicked in and after this Posh only once managed to go more than two games without defeat. This meant Posh spent the season in mid-table although a run of seven defeats in eight games towards the end of the season saw Posh slip to 18th, but never in danger of having to apply for re-election. 

Victory in the last two games of the season saw Posh finish 16th. As was the norm, Posh exited the League Cup in round one, losing 2-0 at Watford. The season wasn’t saved by a run in the FA Cup either, as for the first time since entering the Football League Posh lost to a Non-League Club, going down 2-1 to Wigan Athletic in the second round after beating Wimbledon 3-1. The defeat at Wigan wasn’t helped by selling John Wile to West Bromwich Albion for £35,000 in the week leading up to the game.

71/72 Division Four 8th P46 W17 D16 L13 GF82 GA64 PTS

The pre-season preparations turned into a farce when 15 players and officials flew out to Spain for a three-match tour, but in the end they didn’t play a game due to the reluctance of any team to play them. Again, there was very little transfer activity with only three signings arriving at London Road, but Colin Garwood was sold to Oldham Athletic for £12,000 and David Pleat left to become Nuneaton Borough’s Manager. 

Posh sat proudly top of the table after three wins and a draw in the first four games, but only two wins in the next ten League games again saw Posh plummet down the table, although one of the victories was a 7-0 hammering of Barrow. The next four games mirrored the opening four of the season with three wins and a draw before Posh embarked on a run of 12games without a win, but that run only saw two defeats and an incredible eight consecutive draws.

This dismal run was ended when Posh beat Cambridge United 2-0 in a game that saw segregation at London Road for the first time. In fact, the last 16 games of the season saw Posh have the best run of form for a number of seasons losing only three games, two of those to Champions Grimsby Town, to finish a credible eighth in the final table. Posh also scored their 1,000th Football League goal in a 5-2 victory at The Abbey against Cambridge United in mid-April. The clubs good run of form in April saw Jim Iley awarded the Manager of the Month, something that seemed unlikely earlier in the season. Having scored 82 League goals, the highest since 1964/65, Posh again qualified for the following seasons Watney Cup. In the League Cup, you guessed it, Posh lost in the first round 5-1 at Charlton Athletic. The FA Cup saw Posh make the Third Round before Ipswich Town won at London Road 2-0. This was after Posh had beaten non-leagues Redditch United 6-0 in a replay and Enfield 4-0.

72/73 Division Four 19th P46 W14 D13 L19 GF71 GA76 PTS 41

After the encouraging end to the 1971/72 season, hopes were high that the form would carry over and Posh would be putting in a push for promotion. The pre-season Watney Cup saw Second Division Blackpool visit London Road and after a goalless 90 minutes, Posh won 7-6 on penalties. Blackpool protested that one of the penalties had been taken by Don Heath who had been substituted earlier. The appeal was thrown out and Posh went on to entertain Sheffield United in the semi-finals. The First Division side, despite having Tony Currie sent off, won at a canter 4-0. 

Posh couldn’t have got off to a poorer start to the season, with four straight league defeats, five if you include the normal exit from the League Cup at round one. This bad start included an 8-2 humiliation at Chester. It was only 2-1 at half time, but the home side ran riot in the second half scoring six goals before Jim Hall’s goal in the last minute completed the scoring. 

A home win, 3-0 over Bradford City, eased the pressure on manager Jim Iley, but the dismal run continued the following week at Reading, Posh losing 2-0, and this cost Iley his job. Following a crisis Board Meeting, Iley resigned, and Jim Walker was appointed Caretaker Manager. Walker’s first game in charge saw Posh lose 1-0 at home to Torquay which saw Posh go bottom of the table. The next six games that Walker was in charge of only produced three points and Posh were still bottom of the Football League when on 12th October it was announced that Noel Cantwell was to be the next Posh manager.

Noel straight away worked his magic and Posh won the first two games with him in charge, 3-1 at home to Doncaster Rovers and away at Crewe Alexandra 2-0, followed by two draws before Posh tasted defeat under Noel. Noel then brought in John Barnwell as Trainer/Coach, his arrival unfortunately meant that former Posh player and loyal club servant, Jim Walker, was dismissed ending a 15-year association with the club. Then followed a run of five wins and two draws in league and cup as Posh slowly started to put the poor start to the season behind them.

Noel also went into the transfer market and brought in John Cozens as well as getting Eric Young and Keith Bradley in on loan. Results were inconsistent, but games were never dull under Cantwell with games such as the one at home to Barnsley. Posh were 3-0 up in only 17 minutes, Barnsley then scored three goals in five minutes to level the scores with four minutes to go until half time only for Posh to score twice in a minute to make it 5-3 at half time. The second half was boring by comparison with only a Tommy Robson goal to add to the score. 

A fortnight later Posh were 3-0 down at home to Crewe Alexandra with only 37 minutes left on the clock only for a Don Heath penalty and a Jim Hall hat trick to see Posh win 4-3, the first goal of Hall’s hat trick was his 100th league goal for Posh. Although Posh had spent the whole season in the bottom third of the table, Noel had got the team moving in the right direction, and, but for the poor start before he arrived, the team could have been on the fringe of promotion. Posh did qualify for the Watney Cup for the third time in four years. The FA Cup saw Posh lose to First Division Champion Derby County 1-0 in the third round at London Road in a game marred by violence in and around the ground. This was after Posh had beaten local rivals Northampton Town at London Road in round one with a last-minute Jim Hall goal and Bishop Stortford 3-1 in a replay at London Road.

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Noel Cantwell set about building his team and gave free transfers to eight players and signed seven, plus offering amateur forms to two local non-league players, one of which was David Gregory. The major signing was ex-England international Freddie Hill from Manchester City. Bert Murray was signed just after the season started, initially on loan, before signing permanently. The pre-season went well for Posh with victories over Plymouth Argyle 4-1, and a narrow 2-1 defeat to First Division side West Ham United. 

The Watney Cup saw Posh lose to Second Division Bristol City 2-1. The fans were impressed with the attacking style of play that Cantwell had got the side playing, despite the two defeats, and 7,045 turned up for the opening Football League game against Mansfield Town. It took a last-minute penalty from Jeff Lee to see Posh win 2-1 and Posh were unbeaten for the first eight league games before losing a bruising encounter at Doncaster 3-1. 

Posh won the next seven games without conceding a goal to go top of the table and that sawNoel Cantwell rewarded with the Manager of the Month award. Crewe ended the unbeaten run and scored the first goal Posh had let in in 655 minutes in a 2-1 win. By Christmas, the title race had turned into a three-horse race between Posh, Colchester United and Gillingham and the Boxing Day game between Colchester and Posh was a second v first encounter. Posh took the lead late in the game only for the home side to equalise in the last minute. 

In the last game of the year, Posh lost at Scunthorpe to slip to third in the table. The New Year opened with a victory over lowly Stockport before Posh had their poorest home run of the season, it was just two draws on the trot, 1-1 v Bradford City in front of a crowd of 15,461, (the FA Cup tickets for the Leeds United game were on sale), and 0-0 stalemate against Chester, the first game in which Posh had failed to score. 

Between these two games, Posh had lost 2-1 at Mansfield Town in the first game Posh had played on a Sunday. Sundays obviously didn’t suit Posh, as the biggest defeat of the season, 4-1, was suffered at Workington at the end of February in their second Sunday game. Posh were third in the League table by now, but with games in hand due to the clubs FA Cup run. March saw Posh win five of their seven games with only one defeat keeping them in a comfortable third place. 

April opened with Posh visiting Gillingham and the Gills best home crowd of the season saw the home team win thanks to a disputed penalty. Posh won five of the next six games, drawing the other, again without conceding a goal. This run saw Posh guarantee promotion and they now sat one point behind Gillingham with two games in hand with the teams to meet at London Road. The 17,569 fans that packed into the ground saw Gillingham take an early lead but Posh pulled back to lead by half time thanks to a Lee penalty and a Cozens strike. A Turner header put Posh 3-1 up, Gillingham fought back to pull back to within one goal before Cozens headed home his second and Posh’s fourth goal to win the game and claim the Championship. Even if Posh had lost this game they would still have had two games to win the title, as it was with the title under their belt only one of these were won. The Championship Trophy was presented on the 13th May before a game against an All Stars XI by Mr. Len Shipman, the Football League President. He was booed by a section of the crowd for his role in the club’s demotion some seven years earlier. 

Later that week it was announced that Noel Cantwell had been named the Division Four ​Manager of the Season. Posh had gone unbeaten at home dropping only four points all season. The Football League Cup saw the usually early exit, but the FA Cup saw Posh make it to the fourth round after beating Division Four title rivals, Colchester 3-2 at Layer Road in the first round. Before this game Jimmy Hill said on television that the loser of this game will probably go on to win the Fourth Division Championship or he would eat his hat - don’t think he ever did. 

Round two saw a tricky trip to the sloping Loakes Park pitch at Wycombe, but it proved no problem for Posh and they beat Wycombe Wanderers 3-1. The third round saw a mini giant-killing as Southend United from Division Three were beaten 3-1 at London Road. The Football League Champions, Leeds United, were then drawn to visit Posh in the fourth round and a full house of 28,000 saw Posh well beaten 4-1. It was no disgrace as Leeds were the best team in the country at the time.

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Noel Cantwell was obviously happy with the squad that had won promotion the season before and there was little activity in the transfer market. Other than making the loan of Eric Steele permanent and the signing of John Winfield, who then suffered a knee injury and didn’t make his debut until March, it was only young players that were signed.

Posh were invited into the newly formed pre-season Texaco Cup tournament. Posh lost at Norwich in the first game before drawing at home to Birmingham. The final group game saw a magnificent Freddie Hill free kick clinch a 2-1 win over West Bromwich, but Posh finished third in the group and missed out on the quarter-finals. The League season started with two victories, with the normal League Cup exit, 4-0 at Charlton Athletic, sandwiched between them. 

A defeat at Hereford (2-0) was followed with a win at home over Wrexham but at a cost. John Cozens, the leading scorer in the promotion season, was carried off injured and missed the rest of the season, this started a run of six games undefeated before Posh visited The Valley again, Charlton again won, 3-0 this time, bringing the run to an end. Cantwell moved into the transfer market and signed Jon Nixon to fill the void left by the injury to Cozens. Victory in the next three games saw Posh top of the table. 

Things then started to go downhill for Posh in the league and only one win in the next seven games saw the club slip to ninth. The last defeat in this poor run saw Posh lose at London Road in the League for the first time in 33 games. From then until the end of the season it was a case of inconsistent performances with runs of games without a defeat followed by a run without a win. Posh had at one time fallen to 13th in the League before a mini-revival saw them finish 7th. 

The highlight of the season was the double over champions Blackburn Rovers, which also saw Rovers suffer their only home defeat of the season. The lowlight was the home game against Plymouth Argyle. The Pilgrims arrived at London Road and were already assured of promotion, but still in with a chance of winning the Third Division Championship. Around 5,000 Argyle fans made the trip, but unfortunately, violence in the city centre before and after the game along with crowd trouble during the match overshadowed Posh’s 1-0 victory. One of the reasons for the poor form mid-season could be put down to the FA Cup, which saw Posh make it to the 5th round for only the second time in the club’s history. Posh nearly stumbled at the first round stage when non-league Weymouth drew 0-0 with Posh at London Road. In the replay at Weymouth, Posh were lucky to draw 3-3 after extra time, in fact, if it hadn’t had been for a Chris Turner equaliser in the 89th minute to make it 2-2 and a Dave Llewellyn goal in the last minute of extra time to make it 3-3 Posh would have been out. 

Posh won the toss to stage the second replay, Weymouth finally ran out of steam and three second half goals saw Posh home. Charlton were the second-round opponents and Posh gained revenge for the earlier League Cup defeat winning 3-0. A Keith Bradley goal, his only one for Posh, saw Tranmere Rovers beaten 1-0 in round three. The fourth-round draw saw Posh drawn away to Non-League Stafford Rangers, such was the interest in the tie that the game was moved to Stoke City’s Victoria Ground. A crowd of 31,160 turned up and saw Stafford take the lead before Posh fought back to win 2-1. 

Middlesbrough were Posh’s visitors before the Match of the Day cameras in the fifth round and although Posh had the better of the game the Teessiders managed to force a draw, 1-1, before beating Posh 2-0 at Ayresome Park in the replay. Within a week of the end of the season Posh took part in a four-team tournament in Tunisia and after beating Gillingham 5-3 they took the trophy with a 3-1 victory over Southend United.

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Three of the Championship-winning side of 73/74, Jim Hall, Freddie Hill and Paul Walker, left the club with Jim Hall going back to Northampton Town for £4,500, some seven and a half years after leaving the Cobblers to join Posh. Noel Cantwell brought in two experienced players in Lyndon Hughes and Peter Eustace and local youth player Andy Rogers. The pre-season saw Posh take part in the Shipp Cup, a local invitation tournament, after losing 3-2 at Notts County and beating Kettering Town 4-1 at London Road, Posh completed their matches with a 3-3 draw at Cambridge United.

The season started off at London Road with a drab 0-0 draw with Walsall with the only excitement for the crowd being a female streaker at half time. Things didn’t improve on the field and Posh only won one of their first 10 league games, but they had only lost two, finding themselves 15th in the table. The next 11 games were a complete reversal of the opening of the season with only one defeat in that time seeing Posh move up to second. 

Posh lost their next two games, but in an effort to keep in the promotion chase Cantwell bought Ernie Moss from Chesterfield and Posh went on a run of five wins and a draw in the next six games. At this time the fans were starting to believe that promotion was on the cards, but just as the bad start to the season had turned into a great mid-season, the club suffered another slump in form winning only two of their last 17 games. 

The final position of 10th with 48 points saw Posh only eight points off of third place Millwall and if half of the 18 draws had been turned into wins Posh would have been promoted. There was a surprise in the League Cup as Posh made it to the fourth round, although it was helped by a change in the format. Posh had been one of the clubs pushing to make the first round two legged and this season it was for the first time, which helped Posh. The first leg was lost 2-0at Southend United, but an improved second leg saw Posh win 3-0 to progress to the second round for the first time since 1968. 

Round Two saw Second Division Blackpool beaten 2-0 at London Road and in the third round, Posh were drawn away to second division Fulham. In the Fulham line up were ex-England internationals Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery, but a David Gregory goal saw Posh win 1-0. Top flight Middlesbrough put pay to Posh’s run winning 3-0 in the fourth round. The FA Cup also saw Posh make the fourth round with easy victories in the first two rounds over non-league sides Winsford United 4-1 and Coventry Sporting 4-0. In the third round, Posh were drawn away to Nottingham Forest and a battling display earned a 0-0 draw and a replay back at London Road. By the time of the replay, the draw for the fourth round had been made and a trip to Old Trafford awaited the winners. 

Jon Nixon scored the only goal in the replay to land Posh a dream tie against Manchester United, Manager Noel Cantwell’s old team. Over 10,000 Posh fans travelled to Old Trafford only to see The Reds go two up inside the first 10 minutes before Posh settled down. A John Cozens goal ten minutes before half time put Posh back in the game and for 15 glorious minutes of the second half, Posh put the First Division giants under tremendous pressure without being able to break down their defence before a magnificent strike from Hill killed off Posh’s challenge.

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Three more of the 1973/74 team left the club during the close season, Mick Jones, Bert Murray and Keith Bradley, along with Peter Eustace. Cantwell only brought in three players, Peter Hindley and Keith Waugh on free transfers and Bobby Doyle for £20.000 from Barnsley. Posh again played in the pre-season Shipp Cup, losing 3-2 at Sheffield Wednesday before beating Cambridge United 1-0 and Lincoln City 2-1 at London Road to finish second in the group behind The Owls. 

The season started with the first round of the Football League Cup. Posh looked in trouble at Reading in the first leg being 2-0 down at half time but came back in the second half to win 3-2 with two goals in the last seven minutes from John Cozens after Jeff Lee had scored a penalty. Four days later, Reading won 1-0 at London Road to tie the tie. Posh won the toss to stage the replay which Posh won 3-1 after extra time. 

Round two saw Posh drawn away at Fulham who had Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh in their line-up. Posh gained a draw thanks to a Bobby Doyle goal. which cancelled out an early Fulham lead. Before the replay Fulham signed George Best and his presence in their side attracted a crowd of 16,476. Those who came just to see Best were not disappointed as five minutes before half time George received the ball just outside the penalty area, flicked it in the air and volleyed it into the net to give Fulham the lead. It appeared that everyone in the ground applauded the goal. Alan Slough added a second for the visitors before Tommy Robson scored for Posh with five minutes to go and despite going close in the remaining five minutes Posh couldn’t find an equaliser. 

By this time Posh had played three League games, winning one, drawing one and losing the other. Then a run of 18 games saw Posh win only four of them and Christmas saw Posh sitting 20th in the League. During this poor run, Posh lost 3-0 at home to Chesterfield which saw Noel Cantwell put the whole team up for sale. The New Year was a rollercoaster of form and results. The first five games saw Posh undefeated followed by four games without a win. The next nine games were Posh’s best period of the season with no defeats, which saw Posh 12th in the league, their highest all season. 

This was followed by no wins in the remaining seven league games leaving Posh 16th in the final League table. On the eve of the last game of the season, Noel Cantwell shocked Posh fans by announcing he was quitting the club and John Barnwell was stepping up to replace him. Noel had become something of a folk hero during his time at the club, rescuing Posh from near the bottom of the Fourth Division and taking them to the Fourth Division Championship. The FA Cup didn’t lift the gloom on what was a poor season. Posh travelled to Merseyside in round one and easily beat Tranmere Rovers 4-0, one of the goals was scored by Jack Carmichael who was playing his 247th game for the club and this was his first goal. 

The reward for this victory was another trip to the North-West to visit Northwich Victoria. Things looked to be going to form when Jon Nixon put Posh in the lead, but then the ground was completely enveloped in fog and the game was abandoned. Posh travelled back to Cheshire three days later and were well and truly beaten 4-0. After this game Ernie Moss was sold to Mansfield Town for £20,000.

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There was little transfer activity at London Road with Jon Nixon leaving to join Shrewsbury, Stuart Hodson moving into non-league and David Gregory signing for Stoke City for £55,000, a record fee received by Posh. John Barnwell’s first signing was Gary Sargent closely followed by Steve Camp, both relatively unknown. Then Came Jim Barron and Alan Slough, both better known. Manager Barnwell was reported to have said that the football Posh would play wouldn’t be pretty but would be effective, and so it proved. 

The pre-season again started with the Shipp Cup, but the main talking point was the new strip of light blue and white striped shirts, light blue shorts, and navy socks. It was the first time since 1937 that Posh had moved away from the royal blue and white. Sheffield Wednesday won 2-0 at London Road before Posh crashed 5-1 at Huddersfield Town. 

With only pride to play for in the last of the Shipp Cup games Posh beat local rivals Cambridge United 2-1. The season proper again started with the Football League Cup with Posh beating Bradford City 4-1 at London Road before drawing 1-1 at Valley Parade four days later to progress 5-2 on aggregate. Round two saw Fourth Division Scunthorpe deservedly get a draw at London Road before an Alan Slough goal won the replay for Posh. 

A visit to Bolton in the third round saw Slough score again but Posh lost 3-1. By the time of the Scunthorpe replay, Posh had played four League games but sat 21st in Division Three having picked up only two points. Posh then suddenly found good form and lost only one of the next 10 games before suffering their worst defeat of the season, 3-0 at Colchester United. Posh then went unbeaten until the end of the year, winning five and drawing three and keeping six consecutive clean sheets. 

During this run Barnwell added to the squad, bringing in Billy McEwan and Trevor Anderson, they were also at one stage second in the League. The New Year saw another poor run with Posh only picking up three points from the first six league games of 1978 anf included in this run was Posh’s only home defeat all season, 1-0 to Lincoln City, on a pitch that resembled a paddy field, in modern time the game would never have been played.

Posh then hit top form and won nine and lost only one in the next 14 games to sit fourth in Division Three, level on points with Cambridge United, but with a poorer goal average, and one behind Preston with a game in hand on both sides with only three to play, all away. The first of these was at Oxford and after only conceding 15 goals away in the previous 20 games Posh found themselves three down after only half an hour. Posh fought back to draw 3-3. 

With Cambridge winning and Preston losing Posh were still fourth, but now level on points with Preston but again with a worse goal average. The second last game saw Posh visit fifth-place Chester. Again, Posh’s rock-solid defence let them down and despite Alan Slough scoring a hat trick of penalties Posh lost 4-3. So it was all on the last game of the season and Posh knew a win would see them in the second tier for the first time in their history, all that was standing between them and promotion was Champions Wrexham. A total of 23,451 fans crowded into the Racecourse Ground with a great number of Preston fans making the journey. 

In a memorable game, Wrexham’s keeper Dai Davies had an outstanding match to keep Posh at bay. Time and time again Davies was called upon to keep Posh out with possibly his best save being at the death when Tommy Robson thought he had scored only for Dai to thwarted him. So Posh missed out on goal average in a season that saw them fail to score in 18 games but keep clean sheets in 25 games and there were 15 games, 10 for and 5 against, that finished 1-0. 

Posh made the third round of the FA Cup beating then non-league Barnet, who had Jimmy Greaves in their side, 2-1 before beating Gillingham 2-0 in a replay after a 1-1 draw in Kent. First division Newcastle United were given a scare at London Road before they escaped with a 1-1 draw. Posh lost the replay played in a gale at St James Park 2-0. A season of so near but so far.

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After only missing out on promotion on goal average, John Barnwell quickly moved into the transfer market to strengthen the squad. Archie Styles from Everton and Dennis Byatt from Fulham both arrived on free transfers. Chris Turner was sold to Luton for £115,000, a record fee received by Posh and his replacement was Bill Green from West Ham United who became Posh’s record buy at £60,000. The only other signing was Lammie Robertson from Leicester City.

There was a slight change to the playing strip with the stripes being wider and Navy shorts. The League season started in great form with Posh winning their first three games and being unbeaten after six games. However, it was a false dawn as inexplicably Posh then failed to win any of their next 17 games, gaining only seven points. By this point Posh were deep in relegation trouble. 

Midway through this dismal run John Barnwell left the club and was quoted as saying, “I know what needs to be done at this Club but the Board are not prepared to help me. It appears that I have more ambition and desire than they have”. It appeared that he had repeatedly asked for money to fund a promotion push but had continually been refused. Billy Hails was initially appointed Caretaker Manager before the role was made full time.

Hails had the thankless task of trying to turn the Clubs fortunes around, but after only 12games in charge he decided to stand down. During his time at the helm Posh only won one, but lost eight of the games. He was asked to stay on as Caretaker Manager until a replacement could be found, which he did and added another victory in the two games before Peter Morris was named as the new Manager. 

With little chance of fighting off relegation Morris looked to build for the future and played a number of the club’s youths with a view to giving them some first team experience. In Peter’s 18 games in charge Posh only won five and lost nine to finish the season in 21st place, four points from safety. So, after being so close to second division football less than 12 months earlier, Posh were destined to Division Four. 

Posh had had moderate success in the League Cup, which again started before the League season. After winning 1-0 at Hull City Posh lost the second leg 2-1 at home. Hull won the toss of the coin to stage the replay at Boothferry Park which Posh won again 1-0. Posh travelled to First Division Middlesbrough in round two and got a 0-0 draw in a poor game before winning the replay 1-0 thanks to a Tommy Robson goal in extra time. Round three again went to a replay and Posh won 2-0 at Swindon after a 1-1 draw at London Road. A visit to the south coast to take on top-flight Brighton saw the run come to an end after a 1-0 defeat with the goal being scored by Mark Lawrenson. Posh lost in the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in 10 years, going down 3-2 at Southend.

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Peter Morris set about rebuilding Posh for their attempt to gain promotion back into Division Three at the first attempt. Out went Bill Green, Gary Sargent, Dennis Byatt, Ian Ross, Archie Styles, Peter Hindley, Harry Holman, Trevor Anderson, Billy McEwan and Bobby Doyle who left for Blackpool for £110,000. Incoming replacements were Mick Lambert, Colin Foster, Ian Phillips, Andy Parkinson, Paul Overton, Dave McVay, Billy Kellock and Ricky Heppolette.

It had been a long time since there had been such a large turnover in the playing squad and if was hoped they would quickly gel. Pre-season saw Posh play a number of local non-league teams before a final friendly at home to Luton. Posh reverted back to their traditional Royal Blue and White colours and things looked promising as Second Division Charlton Athletic were beaten 3-1 in the first leg of the opening round of the League Cup. With seven players making their starting debut for Posh it looked like the worries over whether the team would gel were Ill-founded. A draw at The Valley saw Posh drawn at home in the second round against another Second Division side, Blackpool. 

Bobby Doyle failed to inspire his new club and Posh won 1-0 on aggregate thanks to a Billy Kellock penalty at Bloomfield Road. First Division Bristol City were drawn to visit London Road in the third round and a late equaliser for the Robins saved them from a giant-killing. Posh were well beaten 4-0 at Ashton Gate. 

By this time the league season had kicked off and five wins in the first six games saw Posh third in the early season table. This early form then deserted Posh and only three points in the next six games saw Posh slip into mid-table. Things started to look up with three wins and only one defeat in the next five games, but then Posh suffered a run of eight games with no wins and four draws. It looked like the season was over for Posh, but suddenly Posh hit a run of form. The next 14 games saw Posh win 10 and only lose one to put them sixth in the table with a chance of promotion. The last game of this run saw Posh visit Walsall who were top of the table and on a run of 21 games undefeated, but Posh put an end to this by inflicting The Saddlers first home defeat winning 3-2.

But just as quickly as they had hit form it left them. The final seven games only yielded five points and Posh had to settle for eighth, eight points off a promotion place. The FA Cup proved to be a record for Posh, but a record for the wrong reason. Posh lost at home 2-1 to AFC Bournemouth so losing in their first game in the competition two years running for the first time in their history. Despite not gaining promotion, overall it had been an encouraging second half of the season and fans were looking forward to the next season.

The 80's

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Manager Peter Morris moved quickly into the transfer market and signed Robbie Cooke within a week of the 79/80 season ending and with reserve keeper Overton leaving, it looked like it was going to be a busy close season. 

As it was, the only full-time signing was Jackie Gallagher, who had played on-loan at the end of the previous season. The season kicked-off with the Football League Cup, which saw Posh paired with Fulham for the third time in six years. 

Posh came back from a goal down twice to win 3-2 at London Road. At Craven Cottage, in the second leg, Fulham tied the tie at 90 minutes being 1-0 up. Extra time saw Trevor Quow carried off after a tackle by Strong and the game saw a mass brawl after Billy Kellock meted out his own justice on Strong. Mahoney was sent off for his involvement in the incident. Cooke scored the equaliser on the night to see Posh win 4-3 on aggregate. 

Gordon Hodgson was then added to the squad. The reward for beating Fulham was a two-legged tie with European Champions Nottingham Forest. It was no surprise when Posh lost 3-0 at the City Ground, but a week later Posh put on a much-improved performance and were unlucky not to win but had to settle for a 1-1 draw (going out 4-1 on aggregate). 

By this time, the League season had started and the encouraging feeling from the previous season looked well founded as Posh were unbeaten in the first six games before tasting defeat twice in the next three games. Things looked to be back on track with Posh picking up nine points out of the 10 available in the next five games. Included in this run was a 4-3 victory at Stockport County which saw Posh go second in the table. It also saw Posh gain their 1,000th League point in their 932nd game. 

This good run was followed by the worst run of the season. Posh went six games without a win, but just as quickly things turned again and a run of nine games with only one defeat kept Posh on the fringe of promotion. Once again, for no apparent reason, Posh failed to perform and one win and four defeats in five games left Posh with a lot to do to catch the promotion chasing group. 

Posh put in a gallant effort in the last thirteen games of the season and only lost one game but eight draws left the club just three points off the last promotion place. It was a case of so near yet so far. The signing of Robbie Cooke had been a remarkable success and his 22 League goals saw him be the first player in eight years to score over 20 League goals. Posh made it to the fifth round of the F A Cup and it could have been this that cost the club promotion as Posh only won one of the five games they played after playing an FA Cup tie. 

The first round saw Posh triumph at local rivals Northampton Town 4-1. Barnet were up next, and a Tommy Robson goal at Underhill saw Posh home. It looked all over when Chesterfield took a late lead at London Road in round three, but an even later goal from Robbie Cooke meant a replay at Saltergate. Two Cooke goals in the replay saw Posh win 2-1. Second Division Notts County at Meadow Lane were the next victims when Robbie Cooke scored the only goal of the game to see Posh into the fifth round for only the third time in the clubs history. Manchester City were the visitors on Valentine’s Day, but it wasn’t a Valentine's Day massacre. City won 1-0, but Posh made them battle all the way. At the end of the season a Testimonial match was played for Tommy Robson, Tommy had started 514 first team games with 45 substitute appearances and a further 17 games sat on the bench. He also scored 128 goals.

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Peter Morris rang the changes during the close season releasing five players including Tommy Robson and bringing four in, which he hoped would give the squad the boost it needed to win promotion. Posh also signed a sponsorship deal with City firm SodaStream and for the first-time would carry the name of the sponsor on their shirts.

Posh’s pre-season centred around the “Group Cup” competition and after drawing at Second Division Norwich City, home wins over First Division Notts County and Third Division Lincoln City saw Posh head their group and progress to the knock out stages. The next round wasn’t played until February when Third Division Wimbledon visited London Road and won 1-0. 

After the Group games, Posh sold goalkeeper Keith Waugh to Fourth Division rivals Sheffield United for £90,000 and brought in Lee Smelt on loan to replace him. After five seasons of opening the season, the League Cup reverted to starting after the League season had started and for the first time in seven seasons Posh went out in the first round losing to a very good Barnsley side 3-2 at home before being hammered 6-0 at Oakwell. 

In the League, the changes Peter Morris had made seemed to have paid off as after only two defeats in the first 15 games Posh sat second in the table. Due to a period of extremely bad weather, Posh only played four league games in the next 87 days and the disruption seemed to upset Posh as they lost three of them. Once the bad weather had gone Posh’s form picked back up and 13 wins with only one defeat in the next 20 games saw them sitting second in the league with only seven games to play and games in hand on their rivals. 

During this run, Posh played their 1,000th League game. Inexplicitly Posh’s form deserted them, and they only picked up one point from those last seven games to slip to fifth in the final table. It's hard to know what went wrong in those last seven games as Posh hadn’t suffered any injuries or major team changes. In the FA Cup, Posh had beaten 4th Division rivals Halifax Town at The Shay 3-0 before the bad weather had set in. In a much-delayed second round tie, Posh beat 3rd Division Walsall 2-1, before losing to another Third Division side, Bristol City, 1-0 four days later in the third round.

82/83 Division 4 9th P46 W17 D13 L16 GF58 GA52 PTS 64

There was a lot of gloom around the club after the disappointing end to the previous season and the news that the Reserve and Youth team were to be disbanded to save cash. This along with the lack of financial support for a final promotion push the season before and the disbanding of his support team led to Peter Morris leaving the club, although he made it clear that even if Posh had been promoted, it would not have altered his mind. Less than three weeks later the club reversed its decision to scrap the Reserve team. 

The end of June saw Martin Wilkinson arrive as manager from Leeds United where he had been Alan Clarke’s assistant. With Wilkinson’s arrival the transfer activity stepped up, out went eight players including Billy Kellock to Luton Town for £30,000. Martin signed five new faces including two, Neil Firm and David Seaman, from his old club Leeds United. 

Wilkinson described the signing of Seaman as: “A pinch, if Leeds had not been in financial difficulty there is no way I would have been able to sign him”. The pre-season again saw Posh in the Group Cup and after beating Mansfield Town 4-1 at home Posh were brought down to earth with a 6-2 defeat at Norwich City. The last group game saw Posh hammer local rivals Northampton Town 5-2 to finish second in the table behind the Canaries. 

In the League Cup, Posh disposed of Darlington in the first round, winning 2-0 at Feethams and 4-2 at London Road only to go out in the second round losing both legs against Crystal Palace, 2-0 at home and 2-1 away. The League season started with all five new signings on the team sheet and history was made for all the wrong reasons. For the first time two Posh players were sent off in a game. Trevor Slack and Neil Firm were the guilty pair and in Firm’s case he became the first Posh player to be sent off on his debut. 

Amazingly Posh managed a 1-1 draw and this was followed with a 2-1 home win over Hartlepool United. Posh only won three of the next 16 League games which saw them 16th in the table. Posh suddenly found good form and won all four of the games over the Christmas period, being the only team in the Football League to achieve this. This upturn in form had the supporters hoping for better things in the New Year, but it was a false dawn as Posh only won one of the next seven games. 

The last game of this run, at home to Chester, drew the lowest league crowd at the time for a League game of 1,661. It was reported in the local press that the half time announcement, that Coronation Street’s Deidre Barlow had not left her husband Ken, brought the loudest cheer of the evening. Posh Beat Tranmere Rovers 3-0 in the next game, but two days later Martin Wilkinson resigned as Manager. He gave his main reason for leaving to be the lack of cash for players due to the strict budget controls and the final straw came when he was forced to sell Robbie Cooke. 

Bill Harvey took over as Caretaker Manager and within a fortnight John Wile was interviewed for the Manager's job and accepted the post. It wasn’t certain when he would take over as he was still contracted at West Bromwich, so Bill carried on in his Caretaker role. Bill’s time in charge was relativity successful with Posh winning seven and drawing three of the sixteen games played under him leaving Posh in ninth position in the table. John Wile finally took over in mid-May when he was released by WBA. In the FA Cup, Posh beat two Third Division teams, Chesterfield 2-1 in a replay after drawing 2-2 at Saltergate and Doncaster Rovers 5-2 before crashing out 3-0 at First Division Luton Town in round three.

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John Wile’s career start as a Football League manager was not the best with severe limitations on the money he had available to strengthen the squad. His signings were limited to Kenny Beech, Martin Pike and David Buchanan. Billy Rodaway left after rejecting a new contract on reduced rates, Steve Collins also left, which upset John Wile, since neither Southend United nor Collins had notified Posh of the move. 

With there being no Group Cup, the pre-season was a mixture of games away against local non-league teams and games against high level clubs behind closed doors. On the eve of the start of the League season Micky Gynn joined Coventry City for a reported £60,000. In the Football League Cup things looked bleak after the first round first leg which saw Posh lose 3-0 at Crystal Palace, but in a rousing second leg, Posh fought back to win 3-0 taking the tie to penalties. Posh won the shoot-out 4-2 with David Seaman saving two of the Palace spotkicks. 

In the second round Posh met First Division Stoke City. Posh returned from the Potteries with a credible 0-0 draw and were unfortunate to lose the second leg 2-1 in a game that saw Ray Hankin booked after only 12 seconds, he was later sent off. In the League, Posh never won or lost more than two games on the trot and never went more than six games undefeated or without a win so spent most of the season just above half way. They did find themselves second in the table on Boxing Day after one of the runs of six games undefeated, but this was followed by a run of six games without a win which saw Posh drop to tenth. 

Posh did finish up seventh in the table, but in reality, never threatened to break into the promotion race. During the season Ray Hankin wrote himself into the Posh record books for the wrong reasons when he was sent off four times. One other incident that is worth noting occurred during the home game against Wrexham. Old boy David Gregory scored for Wrexham what turned out to be the only goal of the game in the 67th minute and when the London Road announcer announced the scorer, he got a cheer from the Posh supporters. 

Manager John Wile was upset by this and his reaction was to ban the announcements of goal scorers from then on while he was in charge. Posh travelled to an Oxford United side on its way to winning the Third Division Championship in the first round of the F A Cup and were beaten 2-0. In the newly formed FLT Posh visited Wrexham and despite being two up early in the second half finally lost 3-2 in extra time.

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Posh were busy in the close season following an indifferent season in the Fourth Division. Off the field they announced plans to develop an Executive Suite at a cost of £65,000. This was to form an extension at the back of the main stand and would compliment the four Executive Boxes being constructed on the Glebe Road side of the ground. On the playing front John Wile was again limited in what he could do to strengthen the squad with limited funds at his disposal. 

Five players were released with only three new faces being signed although the permanent signing of Errington Kelly was welcomed by fans as he had scored seven goals in eleven games while on loan at the end of the previous season. Pre-season was again a number of away games against local non-league sides and home games behind closed doors against higher league teams. 

Posh exited the Football League Cup at the first round. but it took Second Division Sheffield United extra time in the second leg at London Road to progress 3-2 on aggregate. The League season started brightly and with a third of the season gone Posh found themselves third in the table after winning nine and only losing two of their opening 15 games. Half way through this run, Posh sold David Seaman to Birmingham City for £100,000 and brought in experienced keeper John Turner as his replacement.

The next ten games saw Posh go through a shaky spell winning only three, but a run of three wins on the trot at the end of January and start of February again saw the club move into third position and the fans were hoping the poor spell was over. However, it was not to be as the wheels came off big time and the remaining eighteen games saw Posh win only once and that was away at Chester City. The run included nine home games without a win. This disastrous run left Posh 11th in the final table. 

The FA Cup didn’t bring much joy either. Posh beat Cambridge United at the Abbey in the first round, but Cambridge only won four League games all season, so it was not a big deal. The second round saw Posh visit East London to take on Dagenham. The day was a disaster all round, not only did Posh lose 1-0 but also because it was marred with fighting throughout the game and the collapse of a wall that saw some fans injured and the game stopped while order was restored. The Referee added little time on at the end of the game which led to Posh demanding an FA enquiry into the early ending of the game, but the request was turned down. The FLT again saw Posh go out at the first round with Cambridge United gaining revenge for the FA Cup defeat winning 3-2 on aggregate. So, a season that started with so much promise finished in disappointment for the ever-hopeful Posh faithful.

85/86 Division 4 17th P46 W13 D17 L16 GF52 GA64 PTS 56

With little money to play with, John Wile’s job of rebuilding the squad was almost impossible. Seven players were released during the close season, although most of them were young fringe players, with another three being placed on the transfer list and by the start of the season only three new players had been signed on. Mark Heeley, a one-time teenage wonder boy at Posh, returned to start pre-season training with Posh, but after less than a week, quit. 

However, the big news in the close season was the announcement by Chairman Bill Wilde that the club was up for sale if the bid was right. He was quoted in the local press as saying: “If a Robert Maxwell or Elton John came along today and wanted to buy us out, fair enough, the directors would only be too glad to get out of it”. Meanwhile, close-circuit cameras were installed at London Road and a ban on alcohol being sold at football grounds was imposed.

Local rivals Northampton put pay to Posh’s hopes of a run in the League Cup, winning 2-0 on aggregate. Despite the lack of new blood, Posh started the League season in great form with Jackie Gallagher scoring after only two minutes at Preston, the first goal in the Football League this season, in a 4-2 win and were top of the table after four games, winning three and drawing the other, before tasting defeat for the first time. 

Two home victories kept the momentum going before Posh had a disastrous run, going eleven games without a win and picking up only six points. Two games are worth mentioning during this run. At Tranmere, Posh were leading 1-0 when the floodlights failed after 57 minutes causing the game to be abandoned. When the game was replayed a month later Posh lost 7-0. The other saw Posh lose 5-0 at home against The Cobblers, Goalkeeper John Turner was sent off after only six minutes with Posh already a goal down. Jimmy Holmes donned the goalkeeper’s shirt and was beaten four times, with three coming in the last 15 minutes as 10 man Posh tired.

Posh then won two of the next three before yet another horrendous run of one win in fourteen games had Posh in danger of having to apply for re-election. A mini-revival in form saw Posh win five of their last eleven games to pull away from the re-election zone to finish 17th, but only two points off a re-election spot. It was obvious that it would need a major rebuilding job to get Posh back in the running for a promotion place next season.

The highlight of the season was the run to the fifth round of the FA Cup. Although struggling to beat non-league Bishop Stortford 3-1 in a replay and Bath City 1-0 in the first two rounds Posh stepped up their game to beat Leeds United 1-0 in the third round, this was despite having John Turner carried off with a broken leg twenty minutes from the end, Martin Pike took over in between the sticks.

Posh had already used their substitute, so had to see the remaining of the game out with only ten men. The reward for beating Leeds was a home tie against Second Division Carlisle United. Greg Shepherd, who had scored the winner against Leeds, scored the only goal to see Posh into the fifth round for only the fourth time. The fifth-round tie at home to Brighton was played on a snow-covered pitch. 

Despite the appalling conditions both sides contributed to an excellent contest, and it looked like Shepherd would be the hero again when he headed Posh in front with less than 20minutes to go. Within four minutes Brighton were level. Two minutes later Posh were again in front with one of the strangest goals scored at London Road. Errington Kelly shot from 25 yards and Brighton keeper, Digweed had it well covered when the ball hit an icy divot and bounced over him into the net, but Brighton equalised six minutes later to take the tie back to the Goldstone Ground where the Second Division side won 1-0. The FLT proved to be a bit of a farce. The first round was a mini group with three teams each playing a round-robin tournament. The other two teams in Posh’s group played first with Cambridge United winning 1-0 at Aldershot. Posh then visited the Abbey and lost 4-1 meaning Cambridge had qualified for the knockout stage and the Posh v Aldershot game was a dead rubber. With Posh’s FA Cup run and the bad weather in the winter the game had been postponed a number of times before finally being played on a Thursday night in the middle of April. 

At that time Posh held a market on Thursdays outside the ground and in the car park and there were more at the market than the 279 fans that turned up for the game. Also, by the time it was played the semi-finals of the competition had taken place. Neither team wanted to play the game as both were fighting to avoid re-election. Posh fielded a side that had five players making their debuts, four who never played another first team game and Aldershot had a forward in goals and seven other players who didn’t play a first team game this season. Posh won 2-0 not that it mattered.

At the end of the season, Posh held an emergency public meeting at the Cresset, attended by around 1,000 fans, to discuss the future of the club. At the meeting, it was announced the launch of a scheme to be called “The Posh Lifeline”, which was hoping to raise up to £140,000 a year. The sole aim was to provide the money for John Wile to produce a successful side on the pitch.

86/87 Division 4 10th P46 W17 D14 L15 GF57 GA50 PTS 65

In what was one of the busiest close seasons in the club’s history, 10 players left the club with nine being signed to replace them. Players leaving included Trevor Slack to Rotherham, Martin Pike to Fulham, both for fees around £20,000 and Trevor Quow to Gillingham. Among John Wile’s signings were former Posh favourite David Gregory and with money from the Lifeline scheme, Noel Luke from West Brom, Paul Price from Swansea, Bryn Gunn from Nottingham Forest, and Les Lawrence from Burnley. Tommy Robson also returned to the club as Youth Team Manager.

This season also saw the introduction of the end of season play-off so a top six finish could see you promoted. Spanish side Seville visited London Road in a preseason friendly and won 1-0 thanks to a first half penalty. Posh actually made it to the second round of the Football League Cup beating Colchester United 2-0 on aggregate in the first round before losing 1-0 over two legs to a Norwich City side that sat second in the First Division at the time. 

After winning the first game of the season, 2-0 at home to Southend United, Posh didn’t win another home league game until the beginning of November. Although Posh had won two away games during this run the club found themselves in 19th position. But a far more worrying incident during this run was when four directors quit the club saying they were not satisfied with the financial running of the club, and it was announced that the club was almost £400,000 in debt. It also led to John Wile being sacked. Lil Fuccillo was made Caretaker Manager and he was unbeaten in the three league games he was in charge of before it was announced that “The Messiah” was returning. 

Noel Cantwell was named as Posh manager for the second time, nine and a half years after he left the club. His effect was immediate with Posh only losing one of the next eight games before losing two of the next three. The second of these two losses saw Posh lose 1-0 at home to Northampton Town but the game almost ended in tragedy. Steve Collins collided with The Cobblers keeper and was knocked unconscious and swallowed his tongue. It was only the prompt action of physio Bill Harvey that saved Steve’s life. 

Posh then embarked on their best run of the season winning eight and drawing one of the next 10 games to move up to fourth in the table and in with a real chance of promotion or at least a place in the play-offs. Just as quick as Posh hit top form, it all deserted them and only one win in the last nine games saw Posh finish 10th in Division Four. Towards the end of the season Noel Cantwell launched “The Cantwell Crusade”, it was to be a fundraising drive to raise £100,000 to pay players to back a promotion bid and within eight days it had brought in £15,000.

There was no joy in the FA Cup as local rivals Northampton Town beat Posh 3-0 in round one and Posh didn’t get past the group stage in the FLT losing 2-1 at Colchester and drawing 3-3 at home to Aldershot. The fans were already looking forward to next season after the remarkable change in fortunes that had occurred after Cantwell’s arrival at the club, despite the poor end to the season, and believed it would carry over to next season.

87/88 Division 4 7th P46 W20 D10 L16 GF52 GA53 PTS 70

The main point of interest this season was the events off the pitch. The club was in a financial crisis, but money raised through “The Cantwell Crusade” and “Posh Lifeline” appeal allowed Noel Cantwell to buy both Micky Halsall and Mick Gooding for £25,000 each in the build up to the start of the season. Also signing on were Joe Neenan and Gary Pollard with David Riley coming in on loan. Leaving were Gage, Fucillo, Gregory, and Gallagher. Things also looked good for the future as Tommy Robson took the youth team on a five-match tour in West Germany and they won the Tournament.

The crisis reared its ugly head in mid-October with the club over £400,000 in debt. It was announced that the City Council had rejected Posh’s package to sell the ground to the Asda Supermarket chain and move to a new ground in Paston. A week later it was announced that a mystery Businessman was heading a rescue package to take over the club and clear its debts. Speculation continued about the future of the club as Chairman Steve Kendrick upped the asking price for the club to £500,000. He also added that whatever the outcome of the bid it was almost certain that Posh would go to the High Court in London to seek permission to appoint an Administrator. As predicted the following Monday, 26th October, an Administrator was applied for. It ensured that all the club’s debts were immediately frozen, and it was then up to the Administrator to put forward a proposal to the Creditors to decide which way the club should be run. 

It prompted City Council leader, Charles Swift, to call an extraordinary meeting of the Council to discuss Posh’s future and the support it would get from the City. The Administrators started their work and Secretary Arnold Blades, and Youth Team Manager Tommy Robson were dismissed. Speculation was rife that Noel Cantwell would be the next to be axed. Chairman Kendrick tendered his resignation citing a lack of communication and a clash of personalities with the Administrators as the reasons. Tommy Robson said he would be happy to come back in charge of the Youth Team on a voluntary basis. The next home game, against Torquay United, the fans showed their displeasure at half time as several hundred supporters invaded the pitch and sat down in front of the Directors box. 

Noel Cantwell came out to address the disgruntled fans and asked them to clear the pitch promising that he would return to speak to them after the match. Noel was as good as his word and addressed the fans after the game stating, “The heart has been ripped out of the club, I don’t know how we are going to recover, somebody is going to have to try and pick up the pieces and get on with it”. A banner was paraded at this game pronouncing “You Don’t Sack Kings,” as the fear was that Cantwell might go.

The beginning of November saw Arnold Blades organise a meeting for a movement that was aptly christened “SOS POSH” in a bid to raise £500,000 to save the club. In just 48 hours supporters had pledged £100,000 to keep the club going. Another “SOS POSH” meeting a week later saw 1,000 fans turn up and Cantwell addressed the meeting calling for fans to rally round the club saying, “I believe in Peterborough, there are enough of us to keep this club going. Everybody has got to work in the same direction and I am sure we can do it together.”

The people of Peterborough did rally and local Businessman Roger Speechley agreed to pay Noel Cantwell’s wages and local company Peter Brotherhood’s pledged to pay the wages of Youth Team Manager Tommy Robson. In February, the City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a £1.5 million package that would save Posh, but it was a false dawn as a month later it was announced that the plan to save Posh had been abandoned. It was not until after the season had finished that Posh’s future was assured.

With all the turmoil going on off the field it was a surprise that Posh only missed the Play-Offs on goal difference, and that was after being just above the re-election zone at Christmas. But a strong end to the season which saw them win seven of the last ten games with only one defeat saw them fall just short. In the cups, Posh made it to the third round in the League Cup and area Quarter Finals in the FLT. The FA Cup saw Posh lose at home to non-league Sutton United in the second round, the first time Posh had lost at home to a non-league team since joining the League.

88/89 Division 4 17th P46 W14 D12 L20 GF52 GA74 PTS54

During the close season, Irish Businessman John Devaney became the saviour of Peterborough United by taking over the club as the new Chairman and putting up £800,000 to wipe out the club’s debts. He also pledged a further £400,000 would be available to strengthen the team. One of his first moves was to appoint Noel Cantwell as General Manager and Mick Jones as Team Manager and stated that his aim was to see Posh in the First Division within five years. 

Arnold Blades also returned to London Road as Secretary. Mick Jones moved into the transfer market and paid out £25,000 for Dave Langan, but little money was spent for other players although the swap deal which saw Alan Paris move to Leicester City with Nick Cusack joining Posh was valued at £45,000.

Pre-season games didn’t go well with Posh losing 3-0 at Kettering in the Maunsell Cup and suffered a 7-0 mauling by Newcastle United at London Road. The next friendly was against Spurs and Noel Cantwell had promised that George Best would be playing along with Paul Gascoigne who had just moved to Spurs from Newcastle for £2million. 9,314 turned up but were disappointed when neither Best nor Gascoigne made an appearance. Despite Posh winning 2-1, many fans were furious, feeling they had been misled.

Posh made it to the second round of the League Cup, beating West Bromwich 3-0 at the Hawthorns and despite losing at home, made it through to play Leeds United in the second round. Posh lost both legs, 2-1 at home and 3-1 at Elland Road. The start of the league season couldn’t have gone much worse as Posh found themselves next to the bottom of the table after six games without a win. 

Posh then had their best run of the season going five games undefeated, but that only saw them move up to 17th. Three wins and three defeats in the next seven games kept the club in the bottom half of the table before a disastrous run of only two wins in seventeen games saw Posh deep in trouble in the re-election zone. The final eleven games saw a mini-revival with Posh picking up 14 points to finish four places off the re-election zone although this wasn’t certain until the last but one game. 

It was a far cry from the pre-season promises that had been brought about by the influx of cash and new faces following years of financial struggle. The FA Cup run didn’t last beyond the second round, losing 3-2 in a replay at Brentford after beating Gillingham 1-0, after extra time, at London Road in a replay. Posh didn’t get out of the group stages in the FLT, drawing at Cambridge and losing at home to Northampton.   

89/90 Division 4 9th P46 W17 D17 L12 GF59 GA46 PTS 68

Mick Jones continued to build his side with the arrival of, for Posh, big money signings. In came Dave Robinson for £100,000, a club record, Milton Graham for £72,000, Phil Crosby for £42,500 and Carl Richards for £37,500. It was unprecedented spending for Posh, all financed by Chairman John Devaney. Posh embarked on a pre-season tour of Ireland beating Shelbourne 1-0, Limerick 4-3 before drawing 2-2 with Sligo. On the return home the pick of the games was a 2-2 draw with Leicester City and a 2-0 defeat to Brazilian giants Botafogo.

Posh started the League season with a 1-0 home victory over new boys Maidstone United, and a defeat by the same score at York City. They also beat Aldershot 2-0 at home in the League Cup but were hammered 6-2 in the away leg. This defeat cost Mick Jones his job with Dave Booth taking over as Caretaker Manager, his only game in charge saw Posh draw 1-1 with Aldershot. 

Later in the week, Mark Lawrenson was announced as the new Posh Manager. Lawrenson’s start in management got off to a reasonable start with only one defeat in his first 15 games in charge, but Posh only managed six victories during this run including five wins on the trot and at one time Posh were third in the table. This was followed by a run of seven games without a win which saw Posh fall to midtable. Fortunes turned for Posh and nine wins in the next 16 games put Posh into a good position to at least get a play-off place. It was not to be as only one win in the last five games left Posh in ninth place, three points off a play-off place. If Posh had won the last game of the season, at home to Southend United, they would have made it. Also, Posh had drawn 17 games during the season and, if they could have turned two of those into victories, they would have made the play-offs. 

It was a bitter blow to everybody connected with the club, but particularly the Chairman after he had invested so much money in the team. In the FA Cup, Posh lost in Wales to Swansea City 3-1 in round two after only beating non-league Hayes 1-0 in a replay in the first round. Posh did make it out of the group stage of the FLT after beating Fulham 1-0 at home and drawing 2-2 at Notts County, but Hereford United beat Posh 1-0 at London Road in the first knockout stage.