Torquay v Posh FA Cup 2nd Rd 26 Nov 1960
Venue: Plainmoor, Torquay
Score: Torquay Utd 1 v Peterborough Utd 3
Referee: L. Callaghan.
Sheer guts…..It’s not an expression really to be used but these two words sum up the magnificent effort made by every Peterborough United player to overcome atrocious weather and unbelievable ground conditions to account for Torquay in a thrilling FA Cup battle in the red mud of Plainmoor.
This was a match to separate the men from the boys, and as well as showing greater courage, better stamina, and more even tempers, United took first place for soccer skill and ability to shoot at goal.
It has been said that Torquay would have won on a dry pitch because they play better football. Don’t believe it…United were in one of their “do or die” moods and if the game had been at Wembley or in the middle of Torbay harbour they would still have won.
Every Posh player was a hero, none more so than the ones who had come in for a lot of criticism in recent matches.
Heroes too, were the gallant band of United supporters who travelled for hours by air, by train, in cars and buses, and even on foot to give Posh that vital verbal support which so often means the difference between victory and defeat.
It was the Devon’s team first defeat of the season on their own ground, and manager Eric Webber was among the first to admit that Posh had earned the right to a place in the next round.
Looking at the state of the pitch in the morning it was odds on that the game would be put off.
Torquay officials argued quite sensibly, however, that a postponement was pointless because the ground conditions wouldn’t improve for weeks.
So on a pitch that was fit only for mud baths United started as second favourites only to thrill their supporters with a display of fighting football reminiscent of their display against Ipswich last season.
Torquay swept into a dangerous attack almost from the kick off and twice Posh goalkeeper Jack Walls palmed the ball away for his wing halves to dig out of the mud and boot clear.
But while the mud made it extremely difficult to move the ball accurately, the Posh players, Jim Rayner, Ray Smith and Keith Ripley in particular showed uncanny precision in their passing movements and Billy Hails and Peter McNamee began to see a lot of the ball.
It was from a McNamee corner after eight minutes that Ray Smith blasted the ball into the roof of the net only to see the referee disallow the goal because Bly was alleged to have pushed a defender.
It looked like a perfectly good goal but there was no time for inquests as Posh pressed home a series of attacks which had Torquay reeling.
United were lucky not to concede a goal when Walls was caught out of his goal and the ball was headed in only to stick inches from the goal line for right back Dick Whittaker to clear.
Then after 16 minutes United took the lead with a great goal. Keith Ripley, slow in getting started and obviously a little doubtful about the leg injury which very nearly kept him out of the team, brought the ball through in a powerful run which even the mud couldn’t check.
He slipped the ball forward to Terry Bly who miraculously ploughed his way goal wards to unleash a shot which had the keeper beaten all ends up.
Four minutes later Posh were two goals up when McNamee’s accurately placed corner was scrambled away only for the ball to fall again at the feet of the incoming left winger.
It seemed as if Mac tried to float the ball across again when it was caught by the wind and whirled into the top corner of the net.
Hails ran in to see his shot on the run tipped over the crossbar, but after 23 minutes Billy combined cleverly with Bly, drew the goalkeeper out of position and put the ball across to McNamee.
For a few agonising seconds McNamee dithered in front of the open goal before slipping the ball over the line to put United three goals ahead.
Torquay tried hard to get into the game, but although their wingers put over some dangerous centres they had few scoring chances.
When Northcott raced away for goal Ripley chased him and forced the ball over for a corner.
Just before half time, however, the home side were unlucky not to be credited with a goal. Northcott put the ball over to the left winger and although the linesman flagged the referee waved play on and the ball went for a corner.
From the corner kick Northcott managed to put in a tame shot, the ball going at least a foot over the line. In a flash, however, Whittaker booted it clear and the referee ignored Torquay’s pleas for a goal.
So for the second time in three years Posh found themselves three up at half time in a Cup match against Torquay.
But there the comparison ended for in the second half United came out fighting.
Torquay were far from beaten and in the first 20 minutes kept up a ceaseless attack.
After 61 minutes they reduced the arrears, left winger Court firing in a great shot following some determined centres from right back Bettany.
But that was the end for Torquay. For a few minutes it looked as though they were going to get the all important second goal. But then they flagged and United’s ever-watchful, ever-moving forwards ploughed their way goal wards to throw the home team back on the defensive.
Gradually the burden on United’s defence was eased and ten minutes from time it was obvious that Torquay were beaten, partly by their own mud, but largely by the skill and endurance of a United team which never gave up trying to do the impossible.
The Posh: Jack Walls, Dick Whittaker, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Norman Rigby, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.
Torquay: Bettany, Northcott, Court, rest unknown.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Terry Bly 16 mins and Peter McNamee (2) 20 mins & 23 mins. Torquay – Court 61 mins.