The FA Cup is renowned for being the best cup competition on the planet. The only thing predictable about it is its unpredictability. I suppose that’s why I was so excited for a Posh Away Day in Peterborough. Anything could happen.
On arrival, we had time to stop for a pre-match beverage. Our first port of call was an actual ship. Yes, a bar on a boat. Charters Bar is inside the lower deck of a vessel serving every sort of ale imaginable. I was almost turned away at the door for being a suspected Leeds fan in disguise, but, after some heartfelt grovelling, I was allowed aboard.
You can’t help but feel like Captain Jack Sparrow as you walk up the gangplank onto the good ship Charters and, although it was tempting to order a bottle of rum and go pillaging around Peterborough, this fixture fell on the first weekend of January. It was slightly too soon to break my dry month of drinking, so I went for a Guinness 0.0%. You have to commend the chemists behind the beverage – it’s a top tier alcohol-free alternative and is just as silky smooth as its boozy brother.
Onwards now to the home of Peterborough United or, as they’re known in these parts, The Posh. With a capacity of around 15,000, once through the gates of the London Road End I felt like a sardine. But what a wonderful tin to be in on a Sunday afternoon – cold and crisp with murmurs of a FA Cup shock on the cards. The excitement was building, as were my cravings for pie.
You really can’t go wrong with Pukka. It’s the mothership of match day pastry and I was more than happy to be presented with one of its offspring, served from the Posh Bar in its traditional garland of a plastic pillowcase. Chicken Balti all the way for me and it was exactly what was required. For some reason, as soon as you bite into a match day pie, more filling than seems possible to fit inside appears and a tightrope-balancing act ensues. With its volcanic contents, it’s a real skill to keep the filling from splurging out as you work your way through it.
The Pukka was demolished before a ball was kicked and, with a final swing of the carrot from white rabbit mascot Peter Burrows (see what they did there?), this FA Cup fourth round tie was well and truly underway.
HALF-TIME: Peterborough 0 Leeds 1
My friend Ben and his dad Mick are the pair of Peterborough fans responsible for making me a member of the Blue Army for the day. One of their half-time traditions is to chow down on sausage rolls, purchased pre-match from Waitrose – serious Posh Nosh! After clutching this bag of goods to their respective breasts like a bag of gold for the first 45 minutes, the sausage rolls are usually warm and delicious. I’ve since been advised that dipping a sausage roll in your match day mug of Bovril is an experience not to be missed, noted as a must for my next foodie football forage.
This was my first experience in the standing section of a football ground and it really is fantastic. You feel part of the action, especially in a stadium as intimate as London Road. Early in the second half, Patrick Bamford quietened the crowd with THAT super strike, effectively putting the game to bed. So the home crowd took it upon themselves to entertain for the remainder of the match with resounding choruses of “You’re shit, ahhhhh!” every time Kristoffer Klaesson, sporting a stunning blonde mullet, took a Leeds goal kick.
The FA Cup. You can’t beat it.
FINAL SCORE: Peterborough 0 Leeds 3