Peterborough United v Barnsley
London Road / League One / 18th October 2014
Having headed south to Luton for some Football League action last weekend, I carried on in a similar fashion this weekend with a trip down south, but this time into Cambridgeshire – more specifically Peterborough. The reason behind my Football League conquests of late is basically that it has begun to dawn on me that my Young Person’s Railcard expires in May and with 30 or so grounds still to do of ‘The 92’, I’ve decided I may as well try to do as many as possible this season whilst I have the benefit of cheap rail travel…well, cheaper rail travel.
To cut travel costs even further, I’d booked myself on the ridiculously early 6.57am train to Peterborough (changing in Leeds). However, for some stupid reason, I set my alarm for 4.30am the night before and then rushed to get to Piccadilly station for 5.57am, only for me to realise halfway there that I was an hour early. D’oh. Luckily, I had Paolo Hewitt and Paul McGuigan’s excellent Robin Friday biography (The Greatest You’ve Never Seen) with me to keep me entertained in Starbucks.
Two trains later and I found myself arriving into Peterborough station at 9.38am. It had occurred to me en route that I actually knew very little about the city, apart from that it had a cathedral; I thought I may as well head there first to at least indulge in a spot of local culture.
I liked the fact that Peterborough is a compact city with the city centre on the train station’s doorstep and with the football ground a mere 10-15 minute walk from the centre. Plus, bonus points for having childhood favourite ‘Wimpy’ just off the main high street.
Within minutes of exiting the train station, I found myself outside Peterborough Cathedral – all very pleasant, but it did have a slightly less eye-catching fence around it. It was here that I would receive some bad news.
Regular Lost Boyos groundhopping comrade Gibbo was due to meet me in Peterborough at 10.30am-ish; however, I soon received a text from Gibbo saying that he was still curled up in his room in York being sick and that he wouldn’t be making it today. Clearly, student life has been tough on him. Gibbo had been the one who had sorted out our tickets for today’s game (more on them later), so with me Gibbo-less for the day I thought I’d head to London Road to pick up our pre-booked tickets.
So the tickets. I should throw in a huge thank you here to Atherton Collieries manager Michael ‘Cleggy’ Clegg, who had actually sorted us out with free tickets for today’s League One game. When Gibbo, who helps out significantly at Atherton Colls, mentioned to Cleggy that we were heading to Peterborough, Cleggy said he may be able to help us; within ten minutes, he’d sorted us out with complimentary tickets through Peterborough chairman Darragh Macanthony. Cleggy does appear to know everybody in football!
I rolled up at the London Road ticket office, explained who I was and eventually convinced the lad behind the glass that there was indeed a ticket waiting for me behind the counter. Eventually, he said there was, but that the ticket was in the away end. I asked him could he kindly swap my ticket for the home end, as I knew a few lads who were heading into the London Road Terrace; plus, I even had a blue jumper on and I promised him I’d back the Posh for the day. He kindly obliged. Back into town I went with a ticket for the home terrace tucked away in my pocket.
I’d seen enough of Peterborough’s city centre (nice enough, but nothing to get too excited about it) so I went in search of a pub to grab my first beer of the day. I’d not seen very much in regards of pubs whilst nosing around the town, but I did eventually uncover a street I decided to dub ‘Generic Pub Street’ with a Yates, an O’Neill’s and a Wetherspoons all within yards of each other. I opted to head into the latter of the three and scrounge off their Wi-Fi to hopefully a locate a more interesting pub nearby.
It was barely 11am, so the pub was fairly quiet on me entering, but soon the place was more lively as the Barnsley fans arrived not too far behind me. By the time I exited, it seemed that the Yorkshiremen had very much brought out the police for some reason – the street all of a sudden seemed to be flooded with the ‘Old Bill’. I couldn’t really comprehend why as I am fairly sure there is no history of animosity between the Tykes and the Posh. Admittedly though, there was an unseemly amount of Stone Island ‘clobber’ on show today – that’s not to say that anyone who wears Stone Island is some sort of thug by the way.
Initially, I popped into Yates, but the place was rammed with Barnsley fans and with just two bar staff behind the bar I decided getting a drink in there was going to be a futile task. So onwards I plodded through town, until I stumbled upon the Wortley Almshouses pub. It was nice to enter a pub and be asked by 2 complete strangers (both in Peterborough shirts) how I was doing. Nice to have a pleasant welcome. The pub had several Sam Smith ales on tap, but I opted for a Taddy lager, a particular favourite of mine and a beer that has always been popular with my wallet with its usual low pricing (£2.18 a pint today). The leather waistcoat-clad barman also proved friendly, as he gave me the lowdown on the pub scene in Peterborough.
Next on my crawl back towards London Road was the Drapers Arms, another Spoons, but slightly more interesting than the first one. Unlike most Spoons it felt a bit more narrow and enclosed, whilst in another step away from Wetherspoons conventions, the toilet was actually not that clean (by Spoons standards that is though) – not that I’m applauding this by the way. Most importantly though was the fact that bottles of my beloved Estrella Damm were just £2.99 (much cheaper than they usually are), so I was more than content.
On leaving Wetherspoons, I found a real gem of a place in the centre of Peterborough: the rather understated Brampton Pie Co. I cannot recommend the place enough if you are after a quick fix of pie with the steak and ale effort I devoured proving to be an absolute dream. The day was looking up, but if I thought the pie was good, then things were just about to get even better in regards of public houses.
I really like pubs. I like boats. Put the two together and you get…a pub on a boat! Genius! Throw in the fact that the pub, Charters, is located on the River Nene just 5 minutes walk away from London Road itself and I was onto a winner. The boat consists of an upstairs (upper deck?) restaurant and a bar down below, where I obviously headed. Whilst enjoying a beer I got chatting to some Barnsley fans about my love of their winger Dale Jennings, who I adored when I lived in Liverpool and used to go watch Tranmere a little bit, and then about the 2006 League One Play-off Final in which Barnsley beat Swansea on penalties at Wembley to earn promotion to the second tier. Although my Tykes friends did say they’d swap that win at the Millennium Stadium for everything the Swans have achieved since. After a couple of pints with the Barnsley fans, I moved onwards to the recommend Cherry Tree pub – a pub also endorsed by the Barnsley lads.
The Cherry Tree is situated just down the road from the ground, so I expected the place to be rammed with just over an hour to go until kick-off. So I was a bit bemused by the fairly quiet pub I encountered when I entered. All was very pleasant though and admittedly I did spot a large gathering of Barnsley fans in the beer garden behind the pub, perhaps explaining why the inside of pub was more devoid of football fans than I expected.
Shortly after 2.15pm, I found myself approaching Peterborough United’s home ground with the notion of getting a drink in the ground. ‘Traditional’ is probably the most simplistic way to describe the ground’s appearance as you approach down London Road, especially considering that the two stands in direct view are the shed-like Main Stand and the even ‘sheddier’ looking London Road Terrace. I headed into the narrow turnstiles of London Road and soon found myself on an open area behind the London Terrace.
Despite the ground now holding around 15,000, the ground merely consisted of one wooden stand, holding 250 spectators, on its completion in 1913. Peterborough United would not roll up at the ground until their formation 21 years later. At first, the ground was owned by the council, so when The Posh moved into London Road the council helped out by installing new changing rooms and eventually new stands over the coming decades, before the club claimed the ground for themselves.
During the 90s, following the Taylor Report and Peterborough’s promotion to the second tier, bringing with it an increased fanbase, London Road went under more redevelopment, especially the main stand.
Until very recently, London Road has had two standing terraces behind each goal, but as the club have achieved more success since chairman Macanthony arrived at the club, the club are looking to make the ground an all-seater one, in line with the Premier League criteria. The standing terrace at Moy’s End has now gone in the past year and been replaced with a new (duller) all-seater stand and next on the hitlist is the London Road Terrace.This was one of the main reasons why I was so happy to get into this part of the ground today, as despite frequenting non-league terraces semi-regularly, rarely do I get to go on a standing terrace at a ground hosting football as high as the third tier.
No beer. I repeat: NO BEER! I wasn’t best pleased that there didn’t seem to be any alcohol on sale in the London Road Terrace and even when I dared to ask the lady serving the pies and burgers a preposterous question like ‘Is there any beer on sale here?’ I was met with incredulous looks. Instead I was forced to head up into stand early and watch the teams warm up – a past time that has never really entertained me like it does others. Although I did revel in entering the stands via a sort of sloping, narrow tunnel, instead of the usual staircase or just plain opening. Well, I found the tunnels cool anyway.
Despite the signs warning of flying footballs (we were at a football ground after all), it took a matter of minutes for me to get hit in the chops by a stray ball, which ricocheted off a step; I did make sure I redeemed myself though by controlling the second stray ball heading my way and then volleying the ball back to the goalkeeper coach ( I swear he gave me a nod which said “Tasty skills mate.”) Soon enough I had company on the terrace too.
I first discovered Jack Reeve on Twitter well over a year ago now with the young Norwich fan hosting his own YouTube channel, Talk Norwich City (obviously check it out if you are a Canaries fan). He even asked me to come on his channel to talk all things Swansea City on a couple of occasions. Anyway, I thought I’d name drop him here as I genuinely believe he will go on to be a proper sports presenter in the near future and Lost Boyos can sort of make a mini-claim to fame – so remember his name: Jack Reeve. Jack eventually caught on that this blog is good fun too and has started doing a spot of groundhopping himself, along with his Leeds-supporting mate Ellis, who has taken on the idea of creating a sort of groundhopping YouTube channel; it is still in its infancy, but definitely worth keeping an eye out for. With Lost Boyos in town, both had decided that they were going to head over to the Posh too – probably just to get a double thumbs up photo with yours truly. They had also brought along another companion with them; I may have lost my Gibbo, but the lads had brought their own Gibbo with them, so the day was no longer a Gibbo-less one! And no puking from this Gibbo either!
The lads had visited Peterborough before and so they led me up to the back of the terrace where they said we’d find a better atmosphere. Then we had to endure a very random and weird dance routine from some local college students, which I’m sure had the Barnsley team and fans shaking in fear, before the two teams eventually emerged onto the pitch. Sadly, no Dale Jennings in the Barnsley team for me to fanboy over, however, Devante Cole, son of Andy was in the Tykes’ starting XI. Andy Cole was a bit of a childhood hero of mine, so it was nice to see his son in action again (I have seen him play a few times for Manchester City’s U21s, where he is on loan from).
Definitely a running theme of this year’s travels is the slow, dull starts to games and this was one wasn’t much different (in fact, most 90 minutes of football I’ve seen this year have been average at best).
Before kick-off, Posh were flying high in 2nd place in the league and thus they were expected to beat mid-table Barnsley, but as the half-developed it was the team from Yorkshire that looked more likely to prevail. Eventually their moment did come.
A moment of class from Devante Cole, that father Andy would have been proud of, sent Barnsley into the lead. A superb cross from young James Bree was met by Cole 10 yards out from goal with a superb first time volley, which floated into the far corner. A brilliant finish to put the away team in the lead.
Unsurprisingly, the away fans were now in good voice and they probably should have had more to sing about before half-time when Sam Winnall had a great chance to make it 2-0, but instead fired his shot into the side-netting. The home fans breathed a sigh of relief.
As the first half drew to a close, I found myself a bit disappointed with the atmosphere being created by the Posh fans. With the low-roofed terrace and the drum thudding within the stand not far away from our position, I felt everything was there to create some good volume, but apart from the opening minutes the place had been fairly flat. However, the noise would soon shoot up.
Moments after Conor Washington had struck the post for the Posh, they would soon be presented another crack at goal with the assistance of the Barnsley defence. The Tykes hesitated to clear and immediately Washington sprung on the ball and then fired home from the edge of the box just before half-time to even the score.
Half-time: Peterborough 1 – 1 Barnsley.
Jack had boldly claimed that Peterborough had the best half-time entertainment around, so I was a little concerned about his taste when the same college dancers from before the game emerged onto the pitch. But, of course, he wasn’t talking about those random jive-dancers, but instead the yellow skip being placed on the pitch. Soon enough, we were being entertained by two middle-aged Posh fans attempting (and failing) to land footballs in a skip from about 15-20 yards away. What more could you ask for?
With the half-time entertainment being enjoyable viewing, I was hoping for the same thing from the actual football match in the second half. It certainly did improve a lot. The goal before half-time had clearly buoyed the home team and they came out for the second half seeking a goal to put them ahead.
Barnsley did create chances through Conor Hourihane and Luke Berry and never looked out of contention, but Peterborough had the excellent Marcus Maddison on their side and he just seemed to get better as the game went on. 20-year-old Maddison, a signing from non-league side Gateshead in the summer, looks a real talent and I definitely think it was worth remembering his name. He would show off that talent in emphatic style too in the 69th minute.
As well as seeing very few truly spellbinding games this season so far, I’m yet to really see any absolute, worldy goals either. Young Maddison put an end to that though. Maddison won his team a freekick 30 yards from goal and stepped up to take it himself. Incredibly, Maddison ran up and hit it side-footed à la Didier Drogba (or I would rather say Fabio Borini for Swansea v Norwich 2010/11). The ball soared over the wall and suddenly flew towards the far top corner. I was right behind it as it spun goalwards and for some reason my reaction to the spin on the ball was to scream out “E-OY!” (as brilliantly captured on Ellis’ video of the day – click the link here to see the finish complete with “E-OY!”). Anyway, the ball flew into the top corner leaving Ross Turnbull in the Barnsley goal with no chance. 2 – 1 to the Posh. Easily best goal I’ve seen so far on this season’s travels.
Peterborough were now well in control and their task got even easier 9 minutes later when Barnsley’s James Bailey earned himself a second yellow and was dismissed for the away team.
By now, and throughout the entirety of the second half actually, the atmosphere had improved considerably with the home fans in good voice with their repeated choruses of “Going up, up, up!” The one man advantage saw Peterborough dominate the closing stages and hold on for all three points.
Full-time: Peterborough United 2 – 1 Barnsley.
After the usual array of double thumbs up photos, we departed back down one of the narrow tunnels and out into the streets of Peterborough. Initially, Ellis, Jack and Gibbo strolled along with me at a casual pace, until Ellis realised that they had been looking at the bus timetable for weekdays and not Saturdays and that their bus back to Norfolk was leaving in ten minutes. After a hasty goodbye, off they sped, zig-zagging through the crowds flocking into Peterborough town centre.
Just as the lads were out of sight, another group of lads started running past me. Then another group of lads and then another group. It soon became apparent why, as up ahead there was a whole load of commotion as some Peterborough and Barnsley fans had decided to have a crack at each other in the heart of the town. It really wasn’t a pleasant sight and soon there were more police officers, riot vans and police dogs flooding the street.
I decided to move on from the drama on the streets of Peterborough and head for one last drink back in the Drapers Arms to catch up on the day’s football results. Estrella Damm was drunk and chat with the locals about today’s game and their experiences with Swansea City was had, before I thought I better head off to the station to catch the 18:26 train heading directly back to Manchester.
Beer was purchased for the journey back and I thought my fun was over for the day, However, for the second time this month I ran into a gang of Oldham fans on the train home having befriended some on the train home from Alfreton just 3 weeks earlier. That day the Oldham fans were en route home to Manchester from Notts County and today they were heading home from Chesterfield. Once again, we had plenty of beer and football chat and the Latics fans were great company. They reminded me that I really do need to revisit Boundary Park having only visited once before and that was way back in 2011.
Anyway, another enjoyable day of Football League action. Peterborough was a decent town without really making me desperate to rush back and I was a fan of London Road – although I do feel that I may have enjoyed it less if I wasn’t on the old school London Road Terrace; I did love that stand. Also, get beer in the stand for me next time I visit please Peterborough.
Also, big thanks once again to Cleggy for so kindly helping us (me) out with a ticket. Very much appreciated!
Highlights: compact city with everything nearby, free ticket, Charters, loved the London Road Terrace, enjoyable second half, decent atmosphere, Marcus Maddison’s goal, meeting up with the Norfolk lot, Oldham fans entertaining me on the way home.
Low Points: none of the pubs in town really excited me, poor first half, no Dale Jennings for me to fanboy over, no beer in the London Road Terrace.
To see the rest of my photos from my trip to Peterborough and London Road, click here.
For Jack’s (@TalkNorwichCity) YouTube channel click here.
For Ellis’ (@AwayDaysYT) channel click here.
And I would usually link to my pal Gibbo’s blog here if he actually came along with me, but as we had a stand-in Gibbo you can find Gibbo’s replacement…Gibbo, on Twitter at @BasicallyGibbs.