Peter Boizot, who sadly passed away aged 89 last week, and professional football were always unlikely bedfellows.
The jazz-loving, hockey-playing gentleman was too honest, too sporting and too innocent to work among the ruthless cuthroats who operate in the national game.
But Mr Boizot was driven by a desire to do good for his home city which led him to buy Peterborough United at a time when the club was in financial turmoil and then to sustain it through some troubled times
Plenty of his friends and family advised him not to take the club on, but he recognised how important Posh was to the Peterborough public and that trumped financial advice and the fact that he had little interest in football.
Mr Boizot was 60th in the annual Sunday Times Rich List when he purchased Posh (level with Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame if I recall correctly), but nowhere to be seen in the same list when he finally handed over the reins at London Road some six years later.
I spoke to him regularly throughout his time at the club, and subsequently, and I never heard him begrudge losing a single penny.
He was happy to have helped out and I am delighted that the club experienced success during his tenure.
Mr Boizot’s jig on the Wembley pitch after Posh beat Darlington in the Third Division play-off final in May, 2000 is one of the greatest images of my time covering the club, right up there with Craig Mackail-Smith celebrating a goal against Huddersfield at Old Trafford and George Berry celebrating promotion with a cigar in the bath.
My own personal relationship with Mr Boizot wasn’t easy, but when he (regularly) used to moan at my reporting he did so in a manner I couldn’t possibly be offended by. He could never understand why journalists and fans didn’t see life in the same positive way he did. Results and performances were irrelevant compared to the occasion.
Thank goodness Twitter wasn’t around during his time at the club.
Mr Boizot was most definitely a unique owner/chairman and I was at times quite jealous of his ability to see football as ‘just a game’. It was the Corinthian in him. He didn’t have the heat of the moment temper tantrums fans experience.
It led him to have unusual ideas like greeting opposition fans at Peterborough Railway Station with cups of tea and by trying to get the other 91 Football League clubs to sponsor an arts exhibition at the Royal Academy, but he took every inevitable knockback in his stride.
Boizot formed an unlikely alliance with his manager Barry Fry. Fry would be the first to admit he’s probably have been sacked for poor results under any other chairman.
That wasn’t the Boizot way. He was his own man, happy to make his own decisions, loyal to his friends and acting in a completely selfless way.
RIP Mr Boizot.