It may have been 60 years since Preston North End last played in the top division of English football, but there is nobody can question the club’s illustrious history. Not only were they founder members of the football league in 1888, but they became the first club to win the title in its inaugural season. That same year, they also lifted the FA Cup having not conceding a goal in any of the rounds. This ensured they became the first club to win the league and cup double, a fact that may surprise younger fans. That feat cannot be underestimated. Although Aston Villa matched it within ten years, it would be over 60 years before another team did. That same season, 1960-61, was the be Preston’s last in the top division. Until now at least.
Preston North End History
Preston’s double winning success is all the more remarkable given the team had only played their first football match some ten years earlier. They began life as a cricket club until the winter of 1878 when the players, bereft of an activity to keep fit in winter, tried football. They’d dabbled with rugby the previous year, but that experiment failed. The players much preferred association rules and by 1880, the football club was born.
Part of the Preston North End’s early success can be attributed to innovation. The club was one of the first to invite players down from Scotland, where the game was further advanced than it was in England. In 1887, Scottish forward Jimmy Ross scored 8 goals in a mammoth 26-0 FA Cup victory over Hyde, a winning margin which still stands as a record today. They followed up their success in the first ever League season by retaining the title the following year. Remarkably, however, that is the last time that they lifted the top flight trophy. Preston gave been runners-up five times including twice in the 1950s, but never again have they ruled English football.
Tom Finney to the Present Day
The two near misses in the 1950s were the pinnacle of their best period since those early successes. Inspired by their favourite son Sir Tom Finney, scorer of 187 goals in 433 appearances, the team became a force once more. However, an FA Cup final defeat in 1954 cemented the team’s reputation as nearly men and by 1961, the year after Finney retired, the club was relegated. They did reach the Cup final again in 1964, the same year they narrowly missed out on promotion. A sharp decline through the 70s and 80s should Preston drop out of the league in 1986 but they recovered well and currently play in the 2nd tier Championship. A couple of play off defeats in the early 21st century added further heartbreak but the club continues to flirt with promotion and fans live in hope.
Preston North End Honours
Preston’s honours board has been augmented by triumphs in the lower divisions of English football throughout the 20th century. The club’s full list of trophies sits as:
- First Division (now Premier League) – 2
- FA Cup – 2
- Second Division (now The Championship) – 3
- Third Division (now League One) – 2
- Fourth Division (now League Two) – 1
Preston North End Stadium
Preston North End have played at Deepdale, their current home stadium, for over 140 years. Indeed, no other league football stadium has been in continuous use for longer. The club first leased the land in 1875, when it still existed solely as a cricket club, and first added terracing in the 1890s. Despite declining fortunes, crowds continued to grow in the 1900s and by 1921, Deepdale was upgraded again. In 1933, fire destroyed the Town End stand, five years after it was completed. With that rebuilt and the newly developed Pavilion Stand, Preston North End’s stadium saw it’s biggest attendance of all time in April 1938 when 42,684 attended a match against Arsenal.
Deepdale underwent further upgrades through the 1960s. The club installed seating and covered the mains stands to provide fans with shelter from the north west rain. Those renovations were dwarfed by developments in the 1980s, however, when Preston replaced their grass pitch with a synthetic carpet. The move was controversial and largely unpopular. Management ripped out the so called ‘plastic pitch’ in 1994 and reseeded the grass playing surface. The modern day Deepdale capacity sits just shy of 24,500 although the average attendance in 2018-19 was a rather more modest 14,160.
Preston North End Twitter
Preston North End’s marketing team is active across all social media platforms. Their Twitter handle @pnefc allows fans and media outlets to tag the club and generate discussion points. Preston regularly post highlights of matches and interviews with first team players on Twitter. The club also runs a Facebook page with more than 110,000 likes. Preston’s Instagram attracts less than half that number of people, and features similar content to the Preston North End Twitter page, with lots of links to the club’s official website too.
Preston North End Forum
If you want to connect with other Preston fans, you can join one of the club’s forums (or leave a comment with us here at Represent Your Club of course). The busiest forum is the unimaginatively titled PNE Online, which always has multiple threads on the go at the same time. Fans can shoot the breeze about anything and everything to do with the club, and there are off topic forums as well. Lilywhite Magic is more of an online fanzine, featuring club history, fan-penned articles and even quizzes. The forum link simply redirects to PNE-Online though! There are a few Twitter and Facebook groups as well but if you’re looking for the best Preston North End forum currently online, than PNE Online is the place to go.
Preston North End Players
Tom Finney was incredibly loyal to Preston, spending his entire playing career with the club. Such allegiance seems to run in the DNA at Deepdale though. Indeed, despite his 472 appearances, Finney only sits in 6th place in Preston’s all time appearance list. Alan Alexander, who made is debut the year Tom Finney retired, sits on top with a mammoth 551 appearances, mostly in the 1960s. Modern day players Lee Cartwright, Paul McKenna and Graham Alexander (no relation to Alan) have all appeared in over 400 games too.
The current squad has its own long serving cult heroes in Paul Huntington and Paul Gallacher, both of whom have been with Preston for more than 7 years. Younger midfielders Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson form a dynamic pairing in the midfield, while Lewis Moult and Sean Maguire share most of the goalscoring burden. Goalkeeper Declan Rudd has proven an astute acquisition since joining from Norwich and is a calm presence between the sticks. Preston continue to add to their squad as they seek promotion back to the top flight for the first time since 1961.