Peterborough Utd v Aston Villa FA Cup 4th Rd – 28 Jan 1961

Venue: London Road, Peterborough

Attendance: 28,266

Score: Peterborough Utd 1 v Aston Villa 1

Referee: A.W. Luty.

Only the mud and rain prevented this game from being a London Road epic, but despite the appalling conditions both teams gave a display of fighting football which lacked nothing in determination, wholehearted enthusiasm, and courage. It is an ironic tribute to both Posh and Villa that the referee allowed the game to continue because he sensed both teams wished for nothing but a fight to the finish.

For United it was another brilliant triumph. Weeks of tough, monotonous training routines paid a handsome dividend in the London Road sludge. Posh out-fought, out-paced, out-lasted Villa whose reputation as Cup fighters just doesn’t allow for that kind of a thing as a rule.

What a pity Posh couldn’t turn their second half supremacy into goals. In the last few minutes of the game Villa were a beaten team. It is perhaps the first time in their Cup fighting history that they have willed the time away so intensely.

At the same time however, great credit is due to United for the way in which they played Villa at their own game. Hundreds of Birmingham supporters at the match got the shock of their lives. The Villa players too were visibly shaken by the skill, enthusiasm and stamina of Posh.

This game will perhaps be remembered most of all for the atrocious weather conditions in which it was played. Torrential rain throughout the match made the pitch a quagmire but it did nothing to throw United out of their stride.

Every Peterborough player was a hero. No one deserves any more praise than his colleagues. This was a great team effort and as is only to be expected the inspiration came from team captain Ray Smith.

For small men like Ray, a muddy pitch can be a nightmare. But if you are the captain of Posh you must be master of the situation and that’s just the role Ray carved out for himself.

He didn’t shout at his men. He ran himself very nearly into the ground for the benefit of defence and attack alike and all ten responded magnificently.

Next to Ray, Roy Banham had the most difficult task. Keeping a watchful eye on a brilliant centre forward like Gerry Hitchens is no easy task in any weather, but Roy did it and Hitchens was among the first to acknowledge this fact.

And what about that unfortunate own goal incident. No blame can be attached to the Posh centre half and although his name goes down in the record books as the scorer of the equaliser against his own club it should also be remembered that is was a pure  accident.

When Walls came out to block his shot the quick thinking Hitchens thrust out a foot in a bid to flick the ball across to his own unmarked right winger.

The ball struck Walls on the leg, bounced up into Banham’s face and was deflected into the centre of the unguarded goal.

Banham tried desperately to reach the ball. Many said he should have flung himself forward and stopped it with his hands but of course this was impossible and he could only watch in horror as it rolled over the line.

Jack Walls was hurt in the incident but after treatment from Johnnie Anderson he proceeded to play another great game for Posh. He was twice beaten by Hitchens and McParland but both goals were disallowed by the referee. Jack’s greatest save came when O’Neill drew him out of goal and chipped the ball over his head. However Jack managed to get his fingertips to the ball we shall never know.

Posh presented a very solid rearguard indeed with Jim Walker and Dick Whittaker in command of nearly every situation. Their kicking of dead balls in the mud was wonderful. They did not pull out of a single tackle and Irish international McParland had a most unhappy time.

At wing half too United had courageous tacklers in Jim Rayner and Keith Ripley. But as well as courage these two showed a good deal of cleverness in blotting out the Villa inside forwards for long periods.

Of the United’s forwards Billy Hails probably saw more of the ball than anyone else. He gave Lynn a hectic afternoon and as usual came in for more than his fair share of punishment from desperate tackles.

Terry Bly ploughed a lone furrow and the United leader was not at his best because he had a heavy cold. Nevertheless he was never found wanting and for once the immaculate Denis Emery covered himself in more mud than glory.

Peter McNamee never really got into the game. He hates the mud, but still he kept the Villa right flank fully occupied. It is true that Billy Hails got United’s only goal after 30 minutes but most of the credit for it goes to McNamee.

Peter calmly controlled a long curving pass from Emery, took the ball to the toes of the right back Neal and then wriggled past with the greatest of ease. There was just time to beat another inrushing defender before crossing the ball to the unmarked Hails.

Billy seemed to take an age before shooting and even side stepped several paces towards the centre of the goal before flicking the ball home. What a glorious moment that was for the thousands of Posh fans who stood in the pouring rain and consequently found themselves soaked to the skin.

What a pity the equaliser hd to come so quickly. Had it been delayed for another 15 minutes or so then the trip to Villa Park would not have been necessary.

Teams:

The Posh: Jack Walls, Dick Whittaker, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Roy Banham, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.

Aston Villa: Fred Potter, John Neal, Stan Lynn, Vic Crowe, Jimmy Dugdale, Bobby Thomson, Jimmy MacEwan, Alan O’Neill, Gerry Hitchens, Ron Wylie and Peter McParland.

Goal scorers: The Posh – Billy Hails (30 mins). Aston Villa – Roy Banham (Own Goal) 31 mins.