Peterborough United players can expect a weird, surreal and even farcical experience when playing behing closed doors
It’s looking likely the promotion race to the Championship will be decided in stadiums empty apart from the odd steward, media man and club official.
But that’s not a unique situation for Posh as they were forced to re-stage an FA Cup replay behind closed doors in 1992 against non-league Kingstonian at London Road.
Posh had hammered the underdogs 9-1 in the original replay (after a 1-1 draw in the first round game at Kingstonian when a second-half Tony Adcock equaliser avoided an embarrassing exit for the now Division One side), but the FA ordered that scoreline to be voided after a 50p piece thrown from the London Road End terrace struck visiting goalkeeper Adrian Blake in the second-half. Posh were leading 5-0 at the time.
Long-serving Posh full-back Noel Luke came on as a substitute in both matches.
“The second game was one of the most surreal experiences of my career,” Luke said. “It was supposed to be a competitive FA Cup tie and yet it felt like a pre-season friendly or a training session.
“I sat on the bench for most of the game and I could see how hard the lads were finding it. There wasn’t the same intensity as in the original tie.
“We spoke about being professional and playing with the same commitment as in the first game, but it was weird to look up at the main stand and see about 50 people there who were all very quiet.
“We managed to scramble a 1-0 win, but we were just glad when it was over. Motivation was really hard, but hopefully the chance of getting to the Championship will inspire the current team.
“The club didn’t come out of the first game very well because of the hooliganism.
“The players were disappointed to see the goalkeeper hit, but we never thought the game would be replayed as crowd trouble was much more common in those days.
“My biggest memory of the first game, bigger than Tony Philliskirk scoring five goals, was Match of the Day commentator John Motson saying ‘hello Noel’ before the game.
“I was dead chuffed that he knew who I was!”
Unusually for him Posh boss Chris Turner kept his counsel until after his side had made FA Cup progress, but then he let rip.
“It was a farce, I don’t know what any of us were doing here,” Turner said.
“I had a job raising my players for the game. And I’m just glad it’s all over.”
Poor old Posh striker Philliskirk’s five-goal haul - no Posh player had managed that in the club’s Football League era at the time - was expunged from the record books.
Philliskirk had the very slight consolation of creating the only goal of the second game for Worrell Sterling midway through the second-half.
The re-match took place on a Friday afternoon.
The reward for victory wasn’t great either. Posh went out at lower level Plymouth the following Tuesday.
Posh: (behind closed doors game): Bennett; Bradshaw, Robinson, Halsall, Howarth (sub Luke, 55 mins), Welsh, Sterling, Cooper, Adcock, Philliskirk, Ebdon.
*There will be more from Noel Luke in this Thursday’s PT (April 16)