If Lee Tomlin’s £1.5 million move from Posh to Middlesbrough goes through at the end of the season it will represent an approximate 10-fold profit on a player who made a reasonable contribution to the club in his four years at London Road.
Lee Tomlin’s appalling disciplinary record (as well as a very competitive field) stops me including him in my list of the top 20 ‘best-value’ buys in Posh history.
I’ve taken length-of-service, honours while at the club, the ability of the player and profit into account.
Those unlucky to miss out include Billy Kellock (not here long enough), Micah Hyde (no profit), Jimmy Quinn (no honours), David Seaman (sold too cheaply), Ryan Bennett (not enough games) and Paul Taylor (one-season wonder)
20: STEVE WELSH
Signed: Free from Cambridge (1991)
Left: Free to Partick Thistle (1994)
Posh apps: 196 (2 goals)
A great competitor who was a key performer in two of the best Posh seasons of all-time, the play-off win at Wembley in 1992 which secured successive promotions and the best finish in the club’s Football League history the following year.
A poor second spell at the club shouldn’t dilute his achievements.
19: ROBBIE COOKE
Signed: £5,000 from Grantham (1980)
Left: £12,000 to Cambridge United (1983)
Posh apps: 137 (68 goals)
One of the best finishers ever seen at London Road. He scored in his first four games for the club and never really stopped.
Part of a Posh team that kept missing out on promotion from Division Four, but it was hardly his fault.
18: IAN BENNETT
Signed: Free from Newcastle (1991)
Left: £325,000 to Birmingham (1993)
Posh apps: 89
Once he broke into the first team he delivered the best and most consistent goalkeeping displays I’ve ever seen at Posh. He played at a higher level than David Seaman for Posh and made the club more money so he’s the ‘best-value’ keeper signing the club has ever made.
17: JACK CARMICHAEL
Signed: £4,000 from Arsenal (1971).
Left: Retired in 1983
Posh apps; 420 games (7 goals)
A man who has made the third-highest number of Football League appearances in the club’s history cost under 5K. Carmichael was involved in the 1973-74 Fourth Division title-winning side and his consistency was second-to-none.
16: FREDDIE HILL
Signed: £5,000 from Manchester City (1973)
Left: Free to Swedish football in 1975.
Posh apps: 89 (8 goals)
Hill was the touch of class that transformed Noel Cantwell’s team into Fourth Division champions. He was getting on a bit when he arrived, but his passing range and set-piece class ensured it was money well spent.
15: NOEL LUKE
Signed: Free from West Brom (1986)
Left: Free to Rochdale (1993)
Posh apps: 346 (31 goals)
Part of successive promotions towards the end of a lengthy spell at London Road. Always gets a mention in a discussion about the best-ever Posh right-backs.
14: DAVID FARRELL
Signed: Free from Wycombe (1997)
Left: Free to Boston (2006)
Posh apps: 388 (52 goals)
One of the most exciting players to grace the London Road turf in the last 20 years, Scorer of great goals, most notably his play-off semi-final hat-trick against Barnet in May, 2000.
His loyalty was finally rewarded with a ‘celebratory’ game against his boyhood club Aston Villa six years after he quit playing for Posh.
13: AARON MCLEAN Signed: £150,000 from Grays (2006)
Left: £1.1m to Hull (2011)
Posh apps: 187 (84 goals)
The late Keith Alexander could spot a player. He was responsible for identifying the entire Holy Trinity of Boyd, Mackail-Smith and Mclean, who were all brilliant Posh players who went on to bigger and better things while making their former club a vast profit.
12: DEREK DOUGAN
Signed: £5,000 from Aston Villa (1963)
Left: £25,000 to Leicester (1965)
Posh apps: 90 (46 goals)
The biggest Posh transfer coup of all-time. ‘The Doog’ should never have played in Division Three, but he spent two terrificly-entertaining seasons at London Road before departing.
Dougan scored one of the goals in the famous FA Cup win over Arsenal which on its own demands he is included in this list.
11: JIMMY BULLARD
Signed: Free from West Ham (2001)
Left; £275,000 to Wigan (2003)
Posh apps: 77 (14 goals)
Barry Fry still seethes about this transfer as he is adamant he could have wrung more in sell-ons etc from Wigan. It still represented an excellent profit on a player who cost Posh nothing and was generally outstanding in a poor side.
10: LEON MCKENZIE
Signed: £25,000 from Crystal Palace (2000)
Left: £325,000 to Norwich (2003).
Posh apps: 118 (59 goals)
A high-class player who carried some struggling Posh sides with his finishing skills. Averaged a goal every other game before moving on to Norwich City for whom he appeared in the Premier League.
9: TOMMY ROBSON
Signed: £20,000 from Newcastle (1968)
Left: Retired in 1981
A Posh record 559 appearances and 128 goals, the second-highest in the club’s Football League history. He spent 13 years at London Road and starred in a Division Four title-winning season - all at a cost of just £20K.
8: TERRY BLY
Signed: Nominal fee from Norwich (1960)
Left: £10,000 to Coventry (1962)
Posh apps: 101 (87 goals)
Bly boasted a ridiculous goals-per-game record when he left Posh. His Division Four record of 52 goals in his first season at London Road helped deliver the title in the club’s first season in the Football League.
7: TONY ADCOCK & BOBBY BARNES
Signed: £20,000 apiece from Northampton (1991)
Left: Both left for nothing in 1994, Adcock to Luton, Barnes to Partick Thistle.
Posh apps: Adcock 130 (39 goals), Barnes (60, 9 goals).
I’ve kept them together as they arrived in the same £40,000 deal from our local rivals. Posh took advantage of Cobblers’ financial problems to bring two top players to London Road on the cheap.
Both were outstanding as the club clinched back-to-back promotions in the 1991-92 season.
6: GEORGE BOYD
Signed: £265,000 from Stevenage (2007)
Left: Undisclosed loan fee to Hull (2013)
Posh apps: 297 (75 goals)
Posh didn’t make a huge profit on one of the most gifted players ever to pull on a blue shirt, but the joy he delivered with his classy and committed displays make him a bargain buy.
He played a huge part in three Posh promotions under Darren Ferguson’s management.
5: KEN CHARLERY
Signed:£25,000 from Maidstone (1991)
Left: £350,000 to Birmingham (1992)
Posh apps: 224 (80 goals)
King Ken’s first spell at London Road didn’t actually last that long, but two goals at Wembley in a play-off final that secured back-to-back promotions and a first-ever season in the second tier of English football for Posh cannot be measured in mere monetary terms.
Charlery even managed to return to Posh after leaving twice without diminishing his cult hero status.
4: DENNIS EMERY
Signed: Free from Eynesbury (1954)
Left: £1,500 to Bedford (1963)
Posh apps: 308 (231 goals)
Posh fans of a certain age will tell you that Emery is the best player they’ve ever seen at London Road and his statistics back that argument up.
Emery must be the most decorated Posh player of all-time as he was part of five successive Midland League title-winning sides and the team that won the Fourth Division title in 1960-61.
3: DWIGHT GAYLE
Signed: £500,000 from Dagenham & Redbridge (2012).
Left: £6 million to Crystal Palace (2013).
Posh apps: 28 (13 goals)
Based purely on profit Gayle is the club’s best-ever signing. Posh made a whopping 1,100 per cent profit in just six months, but the fact that his sole spell at the club ended in a relegation keeps him off top spot.
2: CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH
Signed: £125,000 from Dagenham & Redbridge (2007)
Left: £2.5 million to Brighton (2011)
Posh apps: 212 (99 goals)
The best player I’ve ever seen at London Road. Great attitude and improved his skills considerably in his time at Posh.
Key man in three promotions and left on a high for a massive profit after helping Posh back into the Championship in 2011.
1: MICK HALSALL
Signed: £25,000 from Grimsby (1987)
Left: Retired in 1994
Posh apps: 316 (38 goals)
So a player who didn’t earn Posh a penny in transfer profit is my best-value signing of all time? Contentious? Maybe, but what Halsall gave in terms of leadership, passion and commitment can’t be measured financially.
Halsall was bought with money raised by the fans and he re-paid them handsomely many times over by skippering Posh to back-to-back promotions. He led by deed as well as word by playing as hard and with as much spirit as he demanded from the rest of the squad.