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PETER DOWNSBOROUGH (1943-2019)

30 September 2019

The club is saddened to learn of the passing of former goalkeeper Peter Downsborough.

Born in September 1943 - in Siddal, Halifax - Downsborough was an all-round sportsman, excelling at several sports.

He began his football career as a centre forward - only becoming a goalkeeper in an emergency - but showed enough skill between the sticks to be offered a deal with hometown club Halifax Town.

He was signed on amateur terms and made his debut for Town against Bournemouth in the final game of the 1959-60 season.

By 1961, Downsborough was in contention for the No.1 jersey with David Knowles, who would also later join City.

When Downsborough took possession of the starting shirt, Knowles signed for Bury, prior to moving to the Valley Parade in 1966.

In August 1965, Peter was transferred to Swindon Town for a fee of £3,000, with the Robins also signing forward Bill Atkins in the deal.

Whilst at Swindon, Downsborough proved to be a consistent and fearless goalkeeper.

His greatest hour was in the League Cup final of 1969.

Third Division Swindon made it to the grand stage against Arsenal, who finished fourth in Division One, losing only eight league games all season.

The Wembley pitch - lauded for its quality - proved a sand-covered quagmire.

Somehow, the teams put on quite a display. Swindon - against all odds - won the match 3-1 courtesy of two extra-time goals from Don Rogers.

Having led at half-time, the second period proved one-way traffic, with Swindon defending for their lives.

No matter what Arsenal threw at Swindon, it was repelled by Peter Downsborough who almost single-handedly kept the Gunners at bay, until four minutes from the end, when Arsenal equalised.

His opposite number on the day, Bob Wilson, praised Downsborough’s performance, admitting the second half felt like a case of ‘Arsenal v Downsborough’.

In 1972, Peter had a short loan spell at Brighton, following a disagreement with Swindon manager Les Allen, before returning for the final third of the season, helping them avoid relegation.

In December 1973, he joined City, initially on loan, before the move was quickly made permanent.

Downsborough held a reputation as a penalty saver, saving his first in his fourth game for the club - a 2-2 draw at Doncaster Rovers.

Peter was a good shot stopper and had a knack of knowing when to come and claim a cross.

With consistent handling and positioning, he quickly made the goalkeeping spot his own, playing a huge role in the FA Cup run of 1975/76, when the Bantams reached the quarter-final.

He played all six games of the campaign, including our eventual elimination, at home to Southampton.

He was a member of the promotion team in 1977 - missing just one game - and was ever present the following season when we were relegated back to Division Four. He saved three penalties in that season, alone.

By the 1978/79 campaign, he began picking up injuries, taking the decision to retire from professional football at the end of the season.

He played 25 times, having shared goalkeeping duties with Steve Smith.

His 225th and final appearance for City came in a 6-0 home thrashing of Crewe Alexandra, in what was also his 650th league appearance.

Having left the Bantams, he worked locally as a school caretaker, until retirement.

Sadly, Peter lost his battle with stomach and throat cancer last Thursday (September 26) - a fortnight after his 76th birthday.

Legend is a word easily linked with certain people, but it is entirely appropriate for this former Bantam, who gave exemplary service during his time in BD8.

The thoughts and prayers of all at Bradford City Football Club are with his family and friends at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Peter Downsborough.


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