The Peterborough United chairman has just completed 10 years service. ALAN SWANN looks back on a ‘decade of Darragh’
It was September 18, 2006 when the Peterborough Evening Telegraph revealed Peterborough United had been purchased by a brash, wealthy Irishman called Darragh MacAnthony. Few would have predicted the next 10 years would see such great highs and occasionally huge lows. Well apart from Darragh himself.
He stated Premier League football within seven-10 years was his ultimate goal, along with the construction of a 30,000-seat stadium.
The ET’s front page story from 10 years ago carried quotes from Darragh. They included: “I am not just investing in a football club. I am investing in a city.
“Before I tok the plunge, I checked out the city and it is obvious Peterborough has massive growth potential. If we can grow together, handin-hand, that would be perfect.
“I know some people are sceptical because I am a property developer, but I can assure everyone that I am here purley for the football.
“I am no Roman Abramovich, but I want success, and I also want some fun on the way. I won’t be treating this club as a plaything.
“You have to dream (about Premier League f ootball and a new stadium) and why shouldn’t it happen?
“I am passionate about the important things in my life and that now includes Peterborough United.” 10 Years on Darragh has kindly penned a piece summing up his decade at London Road... “My experience has been an incredible one, high and lows included, and more then I ever expected when buying a football club.
“Of course no- one saw 2008/09 happening in the financial world and this of course changed my plans for Posh overnight in a way, but if I’m being honest owning the club kept me sane, busy and with a purpose between 2008-2012 as there was a lot of horrible stuff going on in my business life and for that I ’ll always be thankful.
“I have met so many interesting characters within the game and experienced some real eye-opening moments through negotiating transfers which for somebody who has sold real estate in 20 different countries says something about the football industry!
“The fans took to me from day one and have, 99 per cent of the time, backed me with patience, support and understanding, and have always been fantastic with my wife and children whenever they attend a game.
“So many to mention without sounding arrogant, but the Trinity (Craig Mackal-Smith, George Boyd and Aaron Mclean) is high up on the list costing me just £500k for three untested, non-league lads who matched the policy I drew up when buying Posh. They proved that policy worked with multiple promotions and millions from their sales and one of them is currently still playing in the Premier League. Buying Dwight Gayle for £500k with only £50k of the installments paid before selling him for £6m (now gone past £7.1 million) is serious deal-making for a club like Peterborough. There was massive personal satisfaction seeing Conor Washington go for £2.75 million after fighting with every manager to first recruit him, then to give him a chance, not to mention the many fans constantly moaning about his lack of quality.” “Lots here to mention also, but probably the £1 million I flushed down the drain recruiting a player that went against the DNA I insisted the club was built on playing-wise, when I signed Tyrone Barnett from Crawley. The £600k spent on Jack Payne who should have gone to the top as he had the ability, but possibly not the right attitude as of yet to do so. We spent over £700k on fees/ wages on a too-young Nicky Ajose who mentally wasn’t ready for us or the Championship or League One, but is now showing what a top player he is 4/5 years later. That’s always the risk with younger ones, some take longer then others, especially those who come from the Premier League down. The ones from lower league/non-league are the opposite. I honestly feel Luke James will prove to be one like Ajose who will come good at 23/24 but again a lot of money invested for right player at the wrong time. “ “Lee Tomlin, Boyd, Britt Assombalonga, Gayle, Grant McCann, Ryan Bennett (I purposely won’t name current crop as unfair to do so but a good few of them would make this article).” 2-0 win at home to MK Dons in the second leg of the play-offs & “The night we lost in the Championship, but other results confirmed our Championship status for the following season was a massive achievement and wonderful feeling. The bus parades for when we were successful and the city came out to show how proud they were of their football club. “Honestly no idea at the moment. I’m fighting the odds constantly day-to-day owning Posh and at times it’s pretty exhausting and massively unrewarding from afar. But it’s a challenge I have an insatiable appetite for as I like to win. After I get Posh into the Championship and sort stadium issues out, I make no guarantees of what’s next, but it’ll definitely be football for me. I love it even though it doesn’t love me sometimes.”
The Holy Trinity - Craig Mackail-Smith, Aaron Mclean and George Boyd.