Peterborough United was founded in 1934 at a meeting in the Angel Hotel, Peterborough, where local worthies gathered and decided it was time for the city to have a new football club. United emerged to fill the void left by the forerunners Peterborough & Fletton FC, founded in 1923. The Fletton area is on the south side of the River Nene where the London Road football ground is situated. They played in the Midland League until they were suspended by the FA for financial irregularities and folded eleven years later.
The city had a football team prior to 1920 and they were called Peterborough City. They had disbanded to become Fletton United. This team played at the council owned London Road ground and at the time they were nicknamed ‘The Brickies”. There’s also reference to “The Clay Dobblers” -not surprisingly since the brickmaking industry dominated the Fletton area.
In an attempt to rebuild the Fletton side after a poor 1920/21 season player/manager Mr. Pat Tirrel announced that he was looking for ‘posh players for a posh new team’. This nickname started to appear in the local press alongside the familiar “Brickies”. There’s also a mention of a use in a derisory manner such as the ‘Posh Brickies’. After the club’s demise and subsequent resurfacing as Peterborough and Fletton United in 1923, the now famous nickname had stuck. When Peterborough & Fletton United folded in 1932, the Posh nickname was resurrected and used for the new Peterborough United.
Somehow, the words Posh and Barry Fry, the least predictable management personality in English football, do not quite go together. The club’s image seems to suit the man down to the ground-bold, ambitious, a little bit cocky and contemptous of authority. A far cry from the original meaning of posh: “portside out-starboard home”, dating back to the times when ‘a pale skin’ symbolised and reflected the distinguished lifestyle of the affluent and upper-class. Travelling eastward to India and the Empire portside out and starboard home guaranteed shade and the prospect of keeping a white skin.
In 1934 The Posh kicked off in green shirts with a lace up collar and large white chevron and white shorts to score a 4-1 victory over Gainsborough Trinity in their debut game in the Midland League. The kit was donated to the club and the label inside the shirt carried the name of a local shop called Trollopes. The present blue and white colours were adopted in 1937. “Pay for blue shirts and we will wear blue shirts’ the board told the supporters’s club after complaints that Peterborough’s green kit was bringing the team bad luck It wasn’t just because they were playing badly, but green is viewed as an unlucky colour.
The fans forked out the cash and the Posh have been in blue ever since. A white-sleeved jersey was introuduced in 1959, to be replaced by an all-blue playing strip in 1975. 1993 saw the comeback of blue shirts and white shorts which have stuck until today. Interestingly, the team are the only current league team to have their nickname on their shirts instead of a corporate sponsor.
Adapted from the town’s arms, the shirt is also adorned with the official club emblem. In Saxon times, Peterborough-then known as Medehampstede- was chosen by Paeda, King of Mercia, as the site of a monastery in 654 AD, dedicated to the glory of Christ and the honour of St.Peter. The central shield contains a pair of keys, symbolic of those to the gates of heaven given by Christ to St.Peter. They are shown enfiled by the mural crown as a differentiation to the simple crossed keys which are the arms, recorded for the bishopric of Gloucester. The gold mural crown above the shield is intended as a civic symbol and this is particularly emphasised by the towers, the whole suggesting the walls of a town. Of the supporters the lions are the ermine lions of the Marquess of Exeter, hereditary Lord Paramount of Peterborough, differenced by the wings of the eagle supporters of Mordaunt, first Earl of Peterborough, the stars thereon coming from his arms. The tree trunks derive from a device of Earl Fitzwilliam, whose estate forms an important part of the area.
And than there’s the motto Upon this Rock. The compartment upon which the supporters stand is composed of rock from its traditional association with Peter. You want to know why? In addressing Peter (which means rock), Jesus made a solemn promise regarding the Church: “I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”