Peterborough have one of those stadiums that I often see from the train. I’ve been past it many times in recent years and wondered what sort of footballing delights it might hold. As it’s just under an hour from Kings Cross I decided to find out. I passed The Emirates Stadium on my journey, and saw lots of jubilant Gunners enjoying a half time drink during the North London Derby.
Competition: League One
Refreshments: £2.20 (tea)
Star man: Anthony Grant
Who are ya, Peterborough United
Peterborough United was formed in 1934 and started life in the old Midland League. The club was created to replace Peterborough & Fletton United who had folded in 1932. The club’s ‘Posh’ nickname also dates back to their predecessors. Pat Tirrell, the manager of Fletton United, reportedly said in 1921 that he was ‘Looking for posh players for a posh new club’.
The Posh have only ever been as high as the second tier. Their highest ever league position was tenth in 1993, in what was then known as Division One. Peterborough’s best honours have been winning the fourth tier twice, in 1961 and 1974. They’ve also won the third-tier play-off final on two occasions, in 1992 and 2011.
- Peterborough hold the record for the most goals scored in a league season. 134 in the Fourth Division in 1960-61.
- One of my recent ‘star men’, Britt Assombalonga, has the distinction of being the most expensive player that the club have bought and sold. He signed from Watford for £1.25m in 2013 and was sold to Nottingham Forest the following year for £5.5m.
- Victoria Beckham once filed a claim with the UK patent office over Peterborough’s nickname. The claim was unsuccessful
- Mike Tyson and Warwick Davis are reported to be fans of The Posh.
Prior to kick-off both sides had only won once in their last six league games. Their respective wins, however, had come against vastly contrasting opposition. Peterborough secured a 1-0 win against top of the table Shrewsbury, whereas Blackpool had beaten Bury, who are currently bottom of the table.
The Posh were sitting eighth in League One with Blackpool five places behind them. Both sides have conceded a similar amount of goals, but Peterborough had scored five more times than their visitors and were also coming off a mid-week 5-0 FA Cup win.
The Peterborough United experience
Train: The stadium is a 15-20 minute walk from Peterborough Station, which is easily reached from Kings Cross.
Car: The stadium is on the A15 just outside the centre of town. There is some parking on the streets nearby and a couple of pay-and-display car parks.
The ABAX Stadium is well signposted from the train station. I walked along the underpass and soon found myself in the centre of Peterborough’s shopping area. Groups of fans were strolling towards the stadium that was easily identifiable in the distance, courtesy of the large old-school floodlight on London Road. The locals seemed confident and care-free as they headed over the river towards the stadium.
As I got closer I realised that this floodlight was the only one of its kind that was left, and it was acting as an identifier rather than a lighting device. The ground was actually illuminated by two short, modern floodlights, and lights on the roof of the newer stands.
The ABAX Stadium is a striking mix of new and old. The South Family Stand on one side and the Motorpoint Stand at the end are modern pillar-free stands equipped with royal blue seats. The North Stand is a much more vintage affair with a corrugated roof and faded seats. Finally, the London Road Terrace provides standing for the bulk of Peterborough’s most ardent fans.
I was positioned in the lower tier of the South Stand, and I had to walk past the stadium and down the first street on the left. I found the small entrance in between two houses and made my way to the refreshment stand for a hot drink. Programmes seemed a little tough to get hold of, but I found one in the quaint club shop beneath the South Stand.
The view from my seat was great, and I even got to walk onto the pitch to get around some stewards, who were busy chatting, to get to my seat. I was close to the action and just in front of the hospitality seats. Unfortunately, the atmosphere didn’t quite match the view. It was a frustrating game for the home fans, but the groups of kids in the Motorpoint Stand seemed to make more noise than the hordes in the Terrace.
Blackpool rock their hosts
The visitors started brightly and almost opened the scoring in the first few minutes. Aimson’s header looked as though it had given the visitors the lead, only for Da Silva Lopes to clear off the line for The Posh. The home side weathered the opening storm and began to find their feet.
Maddison and Marriott began to get on the ball for Peterborough and they were causing the Blackpool defence a few headaches. The visitors still looked to have a threat on the break, however, particularly down the left-hand side. A couple of vital interventions from Grant kept the scores level.
Vassell, a former Peterborough player, decided the game after 21 minutes. He was played through on goal and his finish was deflected over the Peterborough keeper and into the net. The home side rallied but struggled to threaten the Blackpool goal.
Peterborough pushed throughout the second half but still struggled to force the Blackpool keeper to make a save. The visitors continued to threaten on the break, and Vassell was holding the ball up well.
Edwards looked bright for Peterborough towards the end of the game and showed some delightful touches down both flanks. It was the substitute who also had the best chance to level the game. He got on the end of a Maddison cross but his header was just over the bar.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the home side, who looked good on the ball but couldn’t deliver in the key areas. Blackpool put on a good away performance and could have scored a couple more were it not for some decisive touches from Grant.
Final thoughts and ratings
Peterborough have a nice ground for the third tier and you are close to the action. There was some good quality on display in the game, but both sides were lacking in the final third. The contest wasn’t ideal for a good atmosphere as Peterborough were chasing the game, but the ground was quieter than I expected.
Ticket availability – tickets were easy to get online and plenty were available on the gate. 9/10
Website/social media – the website is good, and the ticketing process was quick and simple. It also has some useful information, and the social media accounts are active. 8/10
Travel – it’s a 15-20 minute walk from the station, and there was some parking available nearby. Local car parks weren’t too full either. 7/10
Ground – the ground has good views and is a decent size for the level. The club may well look at modernising the two older stands going forward 7/10
Food and drink – the food and drink did look a little expensive for the level (tea was £2.20). There were, however, some combo deals available. 6/10
Programme – the programme was well designed and has all of the information you’d expect. The back cover was an advert rather than the squad list, however, and this annoyed me more than it should. 6/10
Atmosphere – it wasn’t the best game for a good atmosphere, but the London Road Terrace was surprisingly quiet considering how many people were in there. 5/10
Football quality – a competitive game, and both sides had some good players on display. More quality in the final third would have improved the contest. 6/10
Cost – £26 for a ticket feels a little too much for League One, and food and drink prices were also a little high. 6/10
Matchday experience extras – there was an interesting display of mascots in attendance (two builders and a carrot-wielding rabbit). A couple in top hats and tails, a nod to the ‘Posh’ nickname, also came out with the players. 7/10