Who Are These Jobbers?
Much like Jesus ascended to Heaven on this holiest of weekends, Sunderland too must rise again and embark on a pilgrimage to another of the United Kingdom’s historic hamlets. After being crucified by Coventry City, we look for redemption in the most unlikeliest of places and face adversaries that were once considered mere moths to swat away.
Peterborough United. The club that Darren Ferguson can always rely upon for work and one that I assumed still employed Craig Mackail-Smith. A team that won a legal battle with a Spice Girl for apparently infringing on her nickname despite being 40 years older than her and one that always be remembered for Barry Fry sprinting along the touchline after scoring a goal against Newcastle United.
Naturally, any mention of the rotund former manager and chairman requires discussion on the wonderful 1997 documentary ‘There’s Only One Barry Fry’. The fly-on-the-wall football programmes seemed to be all the rage in the 1990s thanks to the success of ‘Premier Passions’, where we discovered the extent of Bobby Saxton’s vocabulary (he just said ‘f**k’ a lot) and ‘Leyton Orient: Yours for a Fiver’ where John Sitton offers out two of his players.
Fry is the star as he attempts to drag Posh out of Division Two with excellent tactical instructions such as “SCORE! SCORE!” and oddly erotic touchline celebrations. It is a beautiful insight into the doldrums of the lower leagues in the late-90s as Fry delicately explains how he insults players to get a reaction out of them.
However, the absolute pinnacle of the show is the revelation that Fry keeps a gavel in his office which he would strike every time he reached a contract negotiation or transfer deal. He gleefully smacks it down after sealing a deal to sign Wycombe Wanderers striker Miguel de Souza bellowing the immortal line “SOLD TO THE FAT B*STARD IN THE BLUE BLAZER”.
De Souza scored five goals in 35 appearances.
It is honestly a television masterpiece and implore you all to dig it out on YouTube - here is just a little taste to whet your fiendish appetite.
Modern day Peterborough are enjoying the same season they have for years by setting off like a train and then fading into obscurity. After binning football’s most likeable man, Steve Evans, Fergie Jnr has them with an outside chance of bagging that final play-off place.
What’s The Ground Like?
Among the fonder memories of Martin O’Neill’s reign at the Stadium of Light was the FA Cup third round trip to Peterborough. The travelling Sunderland support bowled about the terraced Moy’s End rattling through the back catalogue of songs eulogising former heroes such as Kevin Ball, Thomas Sorensen, Steve Agnew and Richard Ord.
James McClean and Sebastian Larsson put the Posh to the sword and we rolled out after enjoying one of the best away trips in years. It was the novel throwback of being able to stand with your mates on a dilapidated stand and watching the Lads batter a load of useless jobbers.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it would be class to replicate that chilly afternoon in early-2012, I can already see the excitement in your eyes. Anyway, you can’t because life isn’t fair and Peterborough converted the Moy’s End into an all-seater stand in 2014, so there. To add insult to injury, the opposite London Road End is a terrace.
Since Sunderland are such a massive draw in League One, away supporters will be housed in both the Moy’s End and part of the Main Stand.
How Do I Get There?
Yes, the ABAX Stadium is almost 200 miles away from the sunlit streets of Sunderland but it is a relatively straightforward journey, I promise. Trust the A1(M) and A1 to guide you south before exiting for the A47 close to Peterborough. Leave at junction 15 for Nene Parkway and then take a left onto Oundle Road following the signs for the stadium, which will appear on your right.
There is plenty of street parking around the ground and should you decide to disregard my directions, then plop PE2 8AL into your sat nav.
For the big dawgs straddling the East Coast Main Line down to Peterborough, the station is around a mile walk from the stadium.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
Do you like to enjoy a springtime pint while floating along the River Nene? Well, Peterborough dutifully obliges with Charters Bar on Town Bridge just moments from the stadium.
Climb aboard this Dutch barge and head below deck to sample some fine, fine real ale and perhaps try some delectable Asian cuisine in the adjoining Chinese restaurant. If you enjoy your beverages on dry land then both Yard of Ale Pub and Palmerston Arms on Oundle Road are a mere stone’s throw from the ABAX.
You are almost spoilt for choice for delicious alcoholic refreshment in the centre of Peterborough. Swing by The Brewery Tap on Westgate for a drop of Oakham Ale and a nice Thai green curry or enjoy a nice view of St John The Baptist Church from The Stoneworks Bar on Church Street, a charming little microbrewery.
Speaking of local beer, pop into The Bumble Inn, also on Westgate, to experience the surroundings of 2018’s Peterborough CAMRA Pub of the Year. Alternatively, you can cram into The Drapers Arms on Cowgate for all your Wetherspoons needs.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Now if you want an Easter weekend you will never forget then book yourself in for a couple of nights in Peterborough. The gateway to East Anglia is a treasure trove of heritage, culture and natural beauty while effortlessly oozing cosmopolitan vibes. Where to start in this powerhouse of middle England?
The most obvious answer is, of course, Peterborough Cathedral. This beacon of hope for the town was first constructed in the 12th century when those crafty Normans were rampaging across England. If you like your cathedrals with Romanesque and Gothic architecture then you are in for one hell of a treat when you visit Peterborough.
Should you want to immerse yourself in everything Peterborough then Peterborough Museum will helpfully fit that bill. Let off a bit of steam by visiting the Nene Valley Railway and hopping aboard some mighty locomotives and for an extra treat the railway is hosting the ‘Who’s At Wansford’ fest.
Essentially it seems everyone just dresses up as Doctor Who and stands outside a phone box.