Peterborough United Football Club
A heavily attended meeting at the Angel Hotel in Peterborough, on the 17th of May, 1934, saw the formation of Peterborough United Football Club. Two years prior to this date, Peterborough and Fletton United had suffered a sad demise and local councillor, Jack Swain, among many others, thought that the city’s wishes for a football team could not go unanswered.
The club hired the London Road ground from the City Council and Fred Taylor was appointed groundsman and trainer. Jock Porter adopted the role of manager. An impressive crowd of 4,033 turned up to watch the club’s first match in the Midland League on the 1st of September, 1934. Gainsborough Trinity were thrashed by Peterborough United, 4-0, with Len Hargreaves scoring the club’s first ever goal.
Just a couple of months after their first match, a statutory meeting was held, and it was decided that the club should seriously consider seeking a league place. The 1935/1936 season opened with an impressive victory over Scarborough but an embarrassing FA Cup qualifying-round exit, at the hands of Rushden Town, signalled the start of a decline in the club’s fortunes.
The season culminated in the resignation of Jock Porter and a sixteenth place finish. Fred Taylor was chosen to replace Porter for the 1936/1937 season, which also saw the formation of Peterborough’s first official Supporters’ Club, following another important meeting at the Angel Hotel. Such changes brought renewed optimism to the fans, but the club finished in sixteenth place once again.
Bert Poulter was put in charge of the club soon after, at the expense of Taylor. However, this proved to be a bad move for Peterborough, as the team finished fourth from bottom and almost had to apply for re-election. The first ever Peterborough player-manager, Sam Haden, quickly took over from Poulter. The renewed hope brought by this change in management was soon dashed by a controversial wage issue.
The Post-WWII Years
The 1940s started badly for the club, as the fear of disbandment hung over them. Furthermore, they almost lost their London Road home ground. Luckily, Peterborough managed to survive such scares and when the Midland League was resumed in 1945, they started to make real progress on the pitch. The season started well, with a 4-2 home win against Notts County Reserves and the team eventually finished ninth in the table.
Prior to the start of the 1946/1947 season, Peterborough appointed three new directors, as the club focussed their efforts upon gaining Football League status during the following decade. Radical improvements were also made to the London Road ground, with the addition of a new public address system and lights on the grandstand.
The appalling weather at the start of 1947 meant that several matches were cancelled and their final game of the season had to wait until June! They finished ninth in the table once again and reported an impressive profit.
Peterborough had an excellent start to the following campaign and, after six games, found themselves in first position with no losses to their name. Unfortunately, they were unable to maintain this pace, but still finished in sixth position.
Haden expressed his desire to leave the club and Jack Blood took over his position. Despite a promising start, the team proved to be frustratingly inconsistent and were even beaten 10-0 by Bradford Park Avenue Reserves.
The FA Cup provided some consolation for the fans, as their team reached the first-round, following opposition from Symingtons, Wellingborough, Kettering Town, and Ransome and Marles. Torquay United stood between Peterborough and a place in the second-round of the Cup but Torquay were too strong on the day. The team finished the season in sixteenth place and eventually finished the decade in tenth spot.
After a successful period in the club’s history, during which time they managed to win five successive Midland League titles, Peterborough were elected to the Football League in 1960. Amazingly, during their first season in the Football League, they won the Fourth Division Championship and amassed 134 goals.
For the following eight seasons, the club set about establishing themselves in the Third Division. They stayed there until 1968, at which point they were docked 19 points and controversially relegated, for giving irregular bonuses to their players.
During the 1960s, Peterborough enjoyed good fortune in the Cup competitions. They managed to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in 1965, beating a strong Arsenal team, before being defeated by Chelsea. The following year, the club reached the semi-final of the League Cup, beating tough opposition such as Newcastle and Charlton along the way.
Peterborough were unable to make a quick return to the Third Division but finally managed to return in 1974. They continued to improve over the following couple of seasons and almost achieved promotion to the Second Division in 1978.
Towards the end of the season, Peterborough were locked in a tight battle with Preston North End at the top of the table. However, their final three games of the season brought two draws and one defeat and Preston North End won the league on goal difference.
This failure took its toll on the club and they were shockingly relegated the following season. Once again, a quick return was not possible and the team spent the 1980s floundering in the Fourth Division. It was not until the 1990s, that Peterborough found a formula for success.
Much to the relief of their fans, the team won promotion back to the Third Division in 1991 and the following season, won promotion once again. Ken Charley was the hero of the hour in 1992, scoring both goals in a 2-1 play-off victory against Stockport.
Ultimately, England’s second tier proved too tough and competitive for Peterborough and they only managed to stay in the league for two seasons.
Since then, inconsistency has combined with luck and some good performances to ensure that the club have fluctuated between the bottom two divisions. They are currently enjoying a successful season and are in a strong play-off position.
Player and Club Records
- Influential player, Tommy Robson, holds the record for most league appearances for the club, with 482 between 1968 and 1981
- Jim Hall has scored most league goals for the club, with a total of 122 goals between 1967 and 1975
- Terry Bly has scored the most league goals in one season for the club, with 52 in the 1960/1961 season
- Peterborough have scored more goals in one season than any other club: 134
- They hold the record for the biggest away victory in Division Three: Barnet 1 Peterborough 9
The club’s address is:
London Road Ground
Peterborough United F.C.
- Phone number: 01733 563947
- Fax number: 01733 557210
- You can purchase tickets online here
- By car from South (A1): Look for signs for ‘Football Car Parks’. Two miles after the Norman Cross Junction, exit the A1 and follow signs for the A1139 towards Peterborough. Go on to the A1139 Fletton Parkway and exit it at Junction 3. At the roundabout, turn left onto the A1260 Nene Parkway. Take the first exit and turn right at the roundabout onto Shrewsbury Avenue. After half a mile, turn right onto the A605 Oundle Road.
- By car from North (A1): When you see the ‘Leicester, Peterborough North A47’ signpost, exit the A1 and turn left onto the A47. Exit at Junction 15 and turn right at the roundabout onto the A1260 Nene Parkway. Exit the Parkway after 1 mile. At the mini-roundabout near the ‘Gordon Arms’, turn left onto the A605.
- By car from East (A47): Go through Eye, following signs for the A47. Turn left at the roundabout and right at the next one. At the following roundabout, take the second exit. Then, as from North.
- By train: The stadium is about three-quarters of a mile from the station. Buses do not run from the station but go from Bourges Boulevard. Turn right out of the station and then left, taking the footbridge over the main road to the bus station.