Peterborough United celebrated one of the greatest days in the club’s history 20 years ago this week, Ken Charlery’s two goals, Marcus Ebdon’s magnificent pass and an incredible goal-line block by substitute Lee Howarth were among the highlights of a 2-1 win over Stockport in the Third Division play-off final at Wembley.
It was a first ever visit to the national stadium for Posh and the victory secured back-to-back promotions as well as second tier football for the first time in the club’s history.
No wonder the city’s celebrations went on long into that Sunday night and continued into the Bank Holiday Monday as the team, led by legendary manager, Chris Turner went on an open-top bus tour before a reception at the Town hall.
The Evening Telegraph’s chief sports writer Alan Swann was there every step of the way and recalls the momentous occasion with the help of the Posh heroes from 24th May, 1992.
KEN Charlery and Marcus Ebdon played for the Posh Legends at London Road earlier this month and it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to an inevitable topic.
In fact it was just before kick-off when the most famous pass in Posh history was mentioned for the first time. Ebdon’s raking bomb from inside his own half sent Charlery away in the 90th minute and the striker lobbed his 26th goal of a brilliant personal campaign to send a city into ecstasy.
“I took a lot of the glory that day and that season because I scored most of the goals,” Charlery recalled. “But we were successful because we played together as a team and we had a top-class manager.
“To be fair Chris Turner took a load of unknown players, threw them together and made us believe we were invincible. We went on to the pitch every week after Christmas that season believing we could win.
“We usually did as well with the win at Wembley which secured promotion obviously the highlight. That was just a great day and an unbelievable way to end an amazing season.
“We had beaten Huddersfield in the play-off semi-finals and the pressure was off us as reaching Wembley had exceeded all our expectations, but we knew we could win.
“The build-up was just a blur and the day itself flew by. Walking out at Wembley seeing so many Posh fans was just an incredible buzz.
“People always ask me about the game itself and I don’t really remember that much because it wasn’t the best of matches.
“There was controversy over my first goal (it was a header from a corner which hit the underside of the bar and didn’t appear to cross the line), but Tony Adcock was nearest and he was adamant it was a goal.
“Of course everyone likes to talk about the second goal and it was such a perfect pass from Marcus I just knew I had to score.
“I didn’t even break my stride and their goalkeeper helped by coming off his line so quickly I just had to lob him and thankfully it went in.
“It was great timing as Stockport had equalised just a few minutes earlier and we were all knackered. It was a hot day and we didn’t fancy extra-time.
“It was easily the best day of my career, although there were a few other contenders from that season as we beat Newcastle, Wimbledon and Liverpool in the Rumbelows Cup, but promotion from the Third Division at the first attempt was by far the biggest achievement.
“It was the best team I ever played for and once I’d made Turner realise I was a centre-forward rather than a right winger it was the most successful of my career.
“Adcock was just a superb striker to play alongside as he was so clever and skilful, while Worrell Sterling and Bobby Barnes were outstanding wingers who created so many of my goals.
“Mick Halsall was an inspirational captain and a natural leader. He created so many goalscoring chances as did Gary Cooper, but we are also rock solid at the back.
“We had a simple way of playing, but it was very effective. We played all our football in the opposition half.”
MATCH FACTS: 24th May 1992
Posh (with ET marks from the day)
R. Robinson 8
D. Robinson 7
Subs: Howarth (for Welsh, 75 mins).
S. Cooper (not used).
GOALS: Posh - Charlery (52 mins & 90 mins).
Stockport - Francis (88 mins).
CAUTIONS: Stockport - Francis (foul)
REFEREE: Martin Bodenham (Cornwall).
POSH finished sixth in Division Three that season, holding on to the final play-off spot despite losing their final game of the season at home to Brentford.
Rivals Bournemouth also lost on the final day at Hartlepool leaving Posh to defeat third-placed Huddersfield 4-3 on aggregate in the play-off semi-finals.
Stockport beat Stoke in their semi-final. Eight teams finished below Posh that season who have since played in the top flight of English football.
Then and now: Posh’s Wembley wizards
Then: An athletic, fun-loving goalkeeper with a gimmick of wearing a rubber mask as he walked onto the pitch. A real fans’ favourite.
Now: A top-class goalkeeping coach.
What he said: “I’m not a religious person, but for the first time in my life I prayed. I was disappointed with the goal I conceded as the ball just slipped through my sweaty gloves so when Ken Charlery raced through minutes later I was on my knees praying he’d score.”
Then: Right-winger converted to a reliable right-back who loved to bomb forward. A long-serving legend.
Now: Lorry driver based in the city.
What he said: “That was typical Peterborough United. We just love to make things difficult for ourselves, but like a rubber ball we keep bouncing back.”
Then: A tough-tackling left-back with a wicked sense of humour.
Now: Believed to be in the North-East of England working for his father’s building firm.
What he said: “Conditions were hard, but my blisters were worth it in the end.”
Then: A towering central defender, an awesome presence in a no-nonsense defence.
Now: Works for Smiths in the overnight delivery department.
What he said: “I thought we’d had it when they equalised, but what a pass by Marcus Ebdon and what a finish by Ken Charlery.”
Then: A true fans’ favourite for his aggressive, 100 per cent displays in the middle of the back four.
Now: Boston United’s academy director.
What he said: “I’m breathless with excitement. It’s a day in my professional life that will never be repeated.”
Then: Captain Fantastic, an all-action, totally committed midfield dynamo.
Now: Professional head coach at the Wolves Academy.
What he said: “This has to be one of the best teams, if not the best team, in Peterborough United’s history. It’s a dream to have led this team into the First Division.”
Then: A creative midfield force.
Now: Academy football manager at Moulton College, Northampton.
What he said: “I didn’t fancy extra-time in that heat so I thought I’d better produce something special. That could be the most important pass I ever hit.”
Then: Hard-working right-winger with a happy knack of scoring important goals.
Now: Works closely with Posh as part of the Football Development Centre run by Peterborough Regional College.
What he said: “It would have been a tragedy if we’d finished that season with nothing to show for it,”
Then: The wizard of the dribble on the left wing.
Now: A top-ranking official with the Professional Footballers Association.
What he said: “I always thought we’d win as there is so much character in the side. A lot of teams would have crumbled when conceding such a late equaliser, but we just picked ourselves up and bounced back straight away.”
Then: The brains of the forward line. The Teddy Sheringham of Division Three.
Now: A business manager.
What he said: “I had a lump in my throat at kick-off and I was crying at the end. It’s the first time I’ve ever been promoted and I won’t forget this moment for a long, long time.”
Then: The goalscoring genius of London Road.
Now: Assistant manager at St Albans FC.
What he said: “Nine times out of 10 Marcus Ebdon would have over-hit that pass, but this time he delivered it perfectly. I slipped into overdrive and lobbed the keeper and believe me it’s the sweetest moment of my life.”