David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Darragh MacAnthony’

Peterborough 2012-13 season review

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In the 89th minute of the final game of the season, the well laid plans of Darren Ferguson, Barry Fry and Darragh MacAnthony came crashing down, as a free-kick that should never have been was converted by Palace skipper, Mile Jedniak.

The entire season turned on this single incident with Posh moving from safety to the final relegation spot. For those who hold Posh so close to their hearts it was the bitterest pill to swallow, yet another poor refereeing decision was to condemn their team to League One football next season. Despair and disbelief flooded the Twittersphere as those fans poured out their hearts and souls online.

True, Posh had once again given them the ride of their lives, they had watched their team from the lows of August and September when they had failed to collect a point in their first seven games, to the relative high of seeing them come within two minutes of pulling off what would truly have been the greatest escape of them all; in the process they had seen their team score more goals than promoted Hull City. Once again, following the Posh was not for the faint hearted, perhaps next season their London Road ground should be posted with warning signs urging those of a nervous disposition or with a heart condition to turn away.

A torrid end to the 2011-2012 season secured the club’s Championship status but saw Posh finish the season in abject form and with key members of the squad, including that season’s captain, Grant McCann, on the precipice of leaving London Road. However, Ferguson Jnr. recruited well in the summer, in all the key positions; ensuring that the club had a core of players that he and the supporters believed were capable of securing Championship status once again.

All was not as well as it seemed, as Posh were found tactically wanting in the first seven games of the season and left cut adrift at the foot of the table. Hope seemed in pretty low reserves even after Posh picked up their first win of the season, away at high flying Hull City, following a tactical switch and a tremendous counter-attacking performance from Emile Sinclair and George Boyd.

Even with the team wallowing in last place Ferguson Jnr. ensured fans that ‘he knew what to do’ and was ‘confident of survival’, and while few truly believed, there was always hope. The abject form of the initial period of the season was left behind and results slowly picked up. There was no one reason for this upturn but one key factor was the return of injured left wing-back Tommy Rowe, whose Bale-esque displays won points on their own at various stages of the season.

The arrival of Dwight Gayle midway through November added goals whilst the ‘Peterborough Four’ incident blew over seeing Barnett, Sinclair and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing at least temporarily leaves the club. The former non-league striker’s form beggared belief at times after his arrival, and the confirmation of his transfer from Dagenham and Redbridge was hugely symbolic in the quest for survival. The diminutive hitman’s flourishing partnership with Lee Tomlin was a breath of fresh air, with Gayle’s perfect hat-trick against former Premier League winners, Blackburn Rovers, providing a memorable moment for all in a blue shirt.

The tail end of the season was when Posh really found their momentum though, and while their 172 game record of no matches without a nil-nil draw was broken, a 12 game unbeaten run gave hope where many had long since stopped believing. Entering the final stretch the atrocious start to the season was a distant though painful memory and Posh had Championship survival within their own grasp, even if the survival permutations required a super computer to calculate.

Posh went into a decisive game with Sheffield Wednesday knowing that a win would ensure that come the last day of the season they would be the masters of their own destiny . An ugly game of hoofball from the visitors meant Posh’s passing play was often disrupted, and it took a moment of brilliance from free-kick specialist and man for the big occasion, Grant McCann to see Posh emerge with the three points and the all important ability to forge their own destiny come 4th May.

The day itself is now history, another appalling refereeing gaff condemned Posh to filling the last relegation berth and with a draw then good enough to secure the survival of both Huddersfield and Barnsley, the Yorkshire compatriots then stood motionless in anticipation of their final whistle, the sound which served as the death knell to Posh’s two year stint in the Championship. As Posh sunk back into League One Darren Ferguson’s post-match interview did little to allay fears of a Posh firesale and while the London Road faithful may be hopeful of holding onto the key assets at the club, the likes of Gayle, Tomlin, Rowe and Bostwick seem unlikely to be lining up in a Posh shirt next season come August 4th.

Relegation alone is enough to give rise to a fan’s despair, but the stark reality is that this youthful Posh team could have kicked on next season and perhaps moved away from the yo-yo status it had hitherto occupied. Yet now, the team who performed so admirably and fought so bravely in the second half of the season looks destined to be torn apart.

Having sat in the main stand at London Road with those who have supported the Posh for many decades I can only imagine the pain that they are feeling, my own Posh journey began just short of two decades ago when, aged one, my dad took me to see Posh play at home to Wolves, we lost 1-0, to a 90th minute Cyrille Regis goal in a season that also saw us relegated from the second tier of English football. If that experience tells us anything then as with the last few years we must see it as a chance to rebuild, to regroup and to challenge for the League One title. No matter which players we hold onto, DMAC, Ferguson and Fry have the best interests of the club at heart and the expected departures in the summer, whilst heart-breaking, are a necessary evil.

2013-14 is the year for players like Newell, Ntlhe, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Swanson and perhaps Shaquille McDonald to flourish and show why they are at the club. This season may ultimately have ended in failure, but to dwell on that would be a mistake, for it was glorious failure, and whilst not quite on the scale of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the club enters 2013-14 with one of the best lines of form of any team in any division. There is plenty to be optimistic about, this is just a setback and as Posh have shown over the years the club can recover and reclaim its place in the Championship.

See you at Stevenage.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

A Tale of Love

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Every football fan has that moment where you get a text, usually from your Dad, informing you of the extraordinary news unfolding at your club at that very moment. You can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. Most of the time you’re at work or at school and it tends to be just before lunchtime. Lunch suddenly becomes a bit bland and tasteless as your mind is racing, questioning everything that’s just happened.

As a Posh fan, I have had two very distinct moments like that. The first was on Tuesday 18th September 2006. Posh were entertaining Everton in a Carling Cup first round clash that evening. I’d finished getting changed after a particularly rough Rugby lesson in P.E. and had just claimed my horrifically retro Siemens mobile phone from the ‘valuables box’. Looking back at said valuables box, I can’t imagine it was a particularly secure place to leave anything of any monetary value but that’s neither here nor there.

After the phone eventually switched back on I had a text and instantly went to read it, expecting it to be from the girl in my Science class that I evidently took a liking too. Unfortunately it wasn’t and instead it was my Dad with the words “Ring me”. My 12 year old self was more disappointed about the lack of text from aforementioned girl rather than the potential gravity of the situation my Dad wanted to inform me about.

Eventually I rang him, expecting him to tell me that I left the freezer door open again or something along those lines. Instead he told me that Posh had been taken over by a young Irish businessman called Darragh MacAnthony. I knew this was a watershed moment in Posh’s history, we were about to get an awful lot of money injected into our faltering club, the times were a-changing and I distinctly remember London Road bathed in the late evening sunshine before kick-off.

Everton beat us 2-1.

That’s beside the point though. The other moment occurred this week, yesterday to be precise – on the 21st February just after 5 in the evening. I was getting ready to meet my girlfriend for dinner (not the same girl who I used to sit next to in Year 8 Science for the record). Technology has come an awful long way since 2006. Siemens thankfully no longer make mobile phones and we can all now enjoy the immediateness of news thanks to Twitter and Facebook (in between the pictures of people you don’t particularly like doing things where you’d question the necessity of a camera.)

With my girlfriend being a Hull City fan, I recently discovered that I am a follower of Hull city’s official Twitter page. I can only imagine this was down to some playful flirting during the early days of our relationship or some really terrible hijack of my Twitter while I wasn’t looking. Either way, I am regularly updated of the dates and venues of Andy Dawson’s testimonial events that are being put on throughout the East Yorkshire and Humber area. A casual browse just before I set off meant I stumbled across a tweet announcing the unveiling of an “emergency loan signing” at Hull City with an image attached. I questioned whether sitting second in the table really constituted an emergency but none the less, I expanded the tweet to be greeted with a familiar face.

Sat staring at me from the computer screen was none other than George Boyd. My feelings can be best described in going back to how I felt after the girl in my Year 8 Science class ultimately rejected my advances to take things to the next level (start holding hands) – numb, sick and a little light headed. No longer would I see the fancy footwork and flowing locks at London Road. A model professional and a fantastic footballer, Posh have been well and truly blessed to employ him for the past six years.

The fantastic thing about George Boyd is that he is not the kind of player who will constantly take on one player too many. There is a sort of timing to his game, knowing exactly when to release the ball and equally knowing how long to keep hold of it for. It’s a pleasure to watch and it’s why he has had such loyal support from each and every Posh fan. All he wants is to play football and to play it bloody well at that.

His departure marks the end of an era at Peterborough United – an era that started all those years ago on Tuesday 18th September 2006 on a warm September evening. Three names have graced Posh history during that era and have helped develop the club and push it to new highs, Aaron McLean, Craig Mackail-Smith and George Boyd. What they have done for Peterborough United Football Club has been absolutely fantastic but now, as Posh find themselves sitting second from bottom, desperate for survival, the last of the old guard leaving could be a blessing in disguise.

Many Posh fans, including myself, have clung on to the days of the appropriately dubbed ‘Holy Trinity’ which saw two successive promotions and more goals than anyone can remember. Perhaps at Posh we are still under the impression that one of the holy trinity will ride in and save the day but it is never good to live in the past for too long. The club have laid some fantastically strong foundations, but it’s no good simply admiring the sturdy handiwork.

There is a real crop of young, potential talent at the club. Kgosi Ntlhe looked the part in the early half of this season and the young South African had earned himself a call up to the national side and looked set to play at least a small part in the African Cup of Nations until he succumbed to an ankle injury in early November against Sheffield Wednesday. And the man to step in Boyd’s boots? Tommy Rowe. Since promotion to the Championship second time around under Ferguson, Rowe has quietly been plugging away, contributing a lot to the build-up of a number of Posh goals this season, even netting one himself against Millwall this week.

George Boyd will always be remembered as a loyal servant to the Posh. Just as he was at Stevenage before and as I am sure he will be to Hull City. It has been an absolute honour and privilege to watch him over the years and I no doubt echo every Posh fan when I say all the best.

Note: some of you may be wondering what happened to the young lady in my Year 8 Science class after she rejected a long, happy life with me. I checked her Facebook page and it tells me she is an avid supporter of the legalisation of marijuana and is a fan of many marijuana related fanpages. I can’t help feeling she’s thinking what could have been?

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

Liam tweets @liamsays92

Would Posh be better off Fergie-less?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

As a Peterborough fan, a season in the Championship five years ago would have been beyond a dream. To have even uttered such a statement would have had you sneered and jeered at by your own brethren on the Glebe.

In 2013 though, it’s a reality. Posh, under the stewardship of Darren Ferguson, have not only reached England’s second tier, but stayed there for more than one season. That status though, is under threat, rumours that Fergie Jnr. has lost the dressing room have surfaced and signs are bleak.

A winless run of seven games at the start of the season coupled with incidents off the field which have seen players shipped out on loan to relegation rivals, means that Posh are by no means guaranteed Championship status for 2013-14.

Peterborough United currently sit rock bottom at the foot of the Championship table, and although they have a game in hand, positivity has evaporated at London Road. With managers in the division being hacked and changed more frequently than a new-borns nappy, many of the Posh faithful cry for blood. ‘Fergie out!’ is the taunt from the terraces.

What good will does that do though? What purpose would be served by getting rid of, arguably, the most successful manager to have graced London Road since the club was founded in 1934? Brought in at the inauguration of the MacAnthony era, Ferguson has overseen triple promotions, relegation and the sale of over seven millions pounds worth of non-league booty (players). The man embodies exactly what Darragh MacAnthony envisioned when he bought the club.

The MacAnthony/Ferguson axis has focussed on lower-league exuberance, hunger and the harnessing of raw potential, which Posh fans have seen through not just the Holy Trinity of Maclean, Mackail-Smith and Boyd but also in the acquisition of exciting young players like Shaun Brisley, Tommy Rowe and Dwight Gayle. This focus on unproven talent combined with free-flowing attacking football has left long-term Posh fans gasping for breath at weekly 5-4 thrill fests. It is now 150 matches since Posh fans have witnessed a goal-less encounter!

Sacking Ferguson can only upset the apple cart and see a team already struggling to cope at this level descend into free-fall. Sure, if Posh go down this season, it would be disappointing, particularly as only last season the club made a huge step in signing its first one million pound player, and whilst that hasn’t worked out as all had hoped it still marked a monumental point in the history of the club. Ask any Posh fan, whether they expected us to ever shell out that kind of cash and you’ll be met again with a booming chorus of no’s.

If any Peterborough fans are Fergie doubters, then ask yourself this. If Fergie Jnr. was to be sacked which manager could come in and spearhead a charge for survival better than the Scot? Anyone thinking London Road could attract a Curbishley, a Howe or even a Di Canio is sadly mistaken. Posh should stick to their guns. Posh fans should cast their minds back to 2010-11 where they went through four managers in one season. Disaster. Nothing more.

If anyone can grab survival from the jaws of defeat, it’ll be that man Ferguson, and with 17 games to go, one hopes that a little bit of that old Ferguson magic returns to the club.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1