Peterborough United: a history

August 9, 2017

Peterborough United were formed in 1934 to provide a replacement for Peterborough & Fletton United, who had folded two years previously. The Posh as they became to be known played in the Midland League which they went on to win on six occasions, including five seasons in a row from 1956 to 1960. The club was elected to The Football League for the 1960-61 season, and went on to win the the Fourth Division Championship success title at the first time of asking.

Following this success the Posh spent seven seasons in the Third Division, reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1964–65, beating Arsenal and Swansea Town along the way before eventually losing to Chelsea. They were relegated back to the Fourth Division for financial irregularities in the summer of 1968 and it took them six seasons to return to Division Three again winning their second Fourth Division championship.

In 1977–78 they threatened to go one better until they narrowly missed out on promotion to Division Two when they drew the last game of the season at champions Wrexham when a win would have seen them promoted. The game was notable for the fact that over 2,000 Preston North End fans travelled to Wrexham to watch the game and cheer on the home side – Preston were the club who went up because Peterborough did not win. The Wrexham failure cast a long shadow over the club and it fell into a long decline. Relegation followed in 1979 and Posh subsequently spent 12 years back in the Fourth Division. The 1980s was a long story of mismanagement and false dawns, punctuated by the odd cup run.

In January 1991, Chris Turner, who had played in the 1974 Fourth Division championship team took over as manager and the team embarked on a run of 13 unbeaten games that propelled them into the top four. Six players were signed on transfer deadline day, which at the time was a record for the number of players signed by one club on a single day. On the final day of the season, Posh travelled to Chesterfield needing a win to seal promotion. Despite going two goals down in the first ten minutes, the team rallied and drew level. Their closest rivals Blackpool lost at Walsall and promotion was achieved.

The following season arguably remains the most successful in the club’s history. After an inconsistent start the team hit form during the Autumn when they knocked Wimbledon and Newcastle United out of the League Cup and were rewarded  with a home tie with Liverpool. A Garry Kimble after 19 minutes gave the Posh a famous victory and a place in the quarter-finals. In the league the team went from strength to strength and surged up the table. Middlesbrough eventually ended the League Cup run after a replay and there was further disappointment when the team missed out on a trip to Wembley in the Football League Trophy when they lost to Stoke City over two legs in the area final. Progress continued in the league and a play-off place was clinched on the last day of the season despite a 1–0 defeat to champions Brentford. The following week Huddersfield Town came to London Road for the first leg of the Semi-final. Captain Mick Halsall’s last minute equaliser levelled the score at 2–2. Three days later, the supporters travelled north more in hope than expectation but they were rewarded when the team came from a goal down to win 2–1 with Worrell Sterling (remember him?) scoring one of the goals. On 24 May 1992 Peterborough United played at Wembley for the first time, meeting Stockport County in the Third Division playoff final. The Posh won the game 2–1 and gained promotion to the new First Division. They played at this level between 1992 and 1994 and finished 10th, their highest ever league finish, in 1992–93 season.

A barren period followed which saw the club relegated back to Division Two in 1997 and then to Division Three three years later as the Barry Fry era commenced.

During the 2005-06 season the club had three managers: Club owner Barry Fry returned to management following former England international Mark Wright’s sacking in January 2006. Wright’s assistant Steve Bleasdale was then appointed acting manager, but resigned in April. Keith Alexander joined as manager from Lincoln City but was sacked in January 2007 after a run of poor form and was replaced by Darren Ferguson. He led the club to back-to-back promotions from League Two to the Championship in his two full seasons in charge. By November 2009 Posh were bottom of the Championship and Ferguson left the club, to be replaced by Mark Cooper.. In February 2010 after only 13 games in charge, Cooper also left the club and Jim Gannon was appointed in his place. Following confirmation of relegation from the Championship after a 2–2 draw at Barnsley, Gannon was replaced by Gary Johnson.

Gary Johnson left the club on 10 January 2011 due to policy disagreement. Two days after Johnson’s departure, Darren Ferguson returned to the club on a four and a half-year contract. Peterborough finally finished fourth in that season with one of the worst defensive records in the third tier, conceding over 70 goals, but scoring 106.Peterborough beat the MK Dons in the playoff semi-finals and went on to defeat Huddersfield Town in the Final with a 3–0 victory, and gained promotion back to the Championship.

Darren Ferguson led the team to safety in its first season back in the Championship, finishing 18th. However, the Posh were relegated back the following season, after losing to their final game to Crystal Palace.

Darren Ferguson ended his time as Peterborough United manager on 21 February 2015, following a 3–0 defeat at the MK Dons.

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