Preston North End Football Club (often shortened to PNE) is an English football club located in the Deepdale area of Preston, Lancashire. They currently play in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. The club was a founding member of the Football League and completed the inaugural season unbeaten to become the first league champions, in the same season winning the FA Cup without conceding a goal to become the first club to achieve the English football “Double”. Preston’s unbeaten League and Cup season earned them the nickname “The Invincibles”
Preston’s most recent major trophy success was their FA Cup victory over Huddersfield Town F.C. in 1938. Many notable players have played for the club, including Tom Finney, Bill Shankly, Tommy Docherty, Alan Kelly, Sr. and Graham Alexander.
Based on results achieved during 112 seasons in the Football League from 1888–89 to 2010–11, Preston were ranked as the fourth most-successful English football club of all time domestically, while only Notts County had played more Football League games than Preston.
Preston North End was originally founded as a cricket club in 1863, by Mr Walter Pomfret of Deepdale Road, who was the first person to rent the field on which North End has always played. The original rent was £8 per year. As Preston already had a strong town’s club, they adopted the “North End” suffix because they moved to the North End of the town when Moor Park opened, playing their matches at Moor Park. Prior to that they played at Bow Lane. The club adopted rugby union code in 1877, but one year later they played their first game under the rules of association football. When his playing days were over, Mr Pomfret continued to be an active worker, and was on the committee when North End became a company in 1893. From then until 1920 when he retired, he was vice chairman. The club made him an honorary life-member in recognition of his services.
Preston North End were famously successful during the early years of professional football in England. In 1887, Preston beat Hyde 26–0 in the First Round of the FA Cup, still a record winning margin in English first-class football. Preston forward Jimmy Ross scored eight goals in the match, going on to score 19 goals in the competition that season, also still a record.
In 1888–89, they became the first league champions and the first winners of “The Double”, becoming the only team to date to go throughout an entire season unbeaten in both the league and FA Cup – winning the FA Cup without conceding a goal.
Preston were league champions again the following season, but have not won the title since. The club’s last major trophy was an FA Cup triumph in 1938.
Preston North End in 1888–89, the first Football League champions, subsequently doing ‘The Double’
Deepdale Stadium was built in 1875 and was first used for association football in 1878. As of 2014, it has been used for 138 years. The biggest attendance seen was 42,684 for a Division One clash with Arsenal in April 1938.
In 1933, the Town End burnt down and was demolished and rebuilt. The stadium now holds a capacity of 23,404 seats, following a complete reconstruction between 1996 and 2009. The current pitch dimensions are 110 yards x 75 yards.
Preston’s most famous player, Sir Tom Finney, played for the club between 1946 and 1960. Finney is considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time, and was also a local lad, dubbed the “Preston Plumber” due to his professional training as a plumber. Finney remains the club’s top goalscorer, with 187 goals from 433 appearances, and also scored 30 international goals for England.
Following Finney’s retirement, Preston were relegated to the Second Division in 1961 and have not played in the top division since. The club did reach the FA Cup final in 1964, but lost to West Ham United. Preston were relegated to the Third Division in the 1969–70 season. The club won the Third Division title at the first attempt and so returned to the Second Division.
Bobby Charlton, an England World Cup winner from 1966, was appointed Preston manager in 1973, but was unable to prevent the club from sliding into the Third Division in his first season and left after two years in charge. A brief respite in 1978 saw Preston win promotion back to the Second Division, but go down after three seasons. In 1985 the club fell into the Fourth Division for the first time in its history.
In 1986, Preston finished second from bottom in the Fourth Division and only avoided dropping into the Football Conference because the other Football League members voted in favour of the division’s bottom four teams retaining their senior status.
The arrival of new manager John McGrath saw Preston win promotion to the Third Division a year later and they were still at this level when McGrath left in 1990. Veteran player Les Chapman took over as manager, but left in October 1992 to be replaced by John Beck. The 38-year-old Beck had only recently been sacked by Cambridge United, where he had achieved two successive promotions and come close to attaining a unique third. Beck was unable to save Preston from relegation from the first season of the new Division Two. He endured a Division Three play-off final failure before quitting in 1994 to be replaced by his assistant Gary Peters.
Peters guided Preston to Division Three title glory in his first full season as manager and quit in February 1998, to be replaced by 34-year-old defender David Moyes. Preston quickly developed into Division Two promotion contenders under Moyes, reaching the 1998–99 play-offs but losing out to Gillingham in the semi-finals, before finally being promoted as champions a year later.
Preston began the new millennium by winning promotion from Division 2 in the 1999–2000 season as champions. The club almost made it two promotions a row in 2001 but lost 3–0 to Bolton Wanderers in the Division One play-off final.
Moyes left for Everton in March 2002 and his assistant Kelham O’Hanlon took over for the remainder of the season. Preston narrowly missed out on the play-offs, and in the summer former Scotland manager Craig Brown took over as manager. Preston were little more than a mid-table side during Brown’s tenure, though never in any real danger of being relegated. He left in August 2004 to be succeeded by his assistant Billy Davies.
Chart showing the progress of Preston North End through the English football league system.
Davies guided Preston to the Championship playoff final in his first season as manager, but they lost to West Ham United. The club reached the play-offs again the following year, this time losing at the semi-final stage to Leeds United. Davies then moved to Derby County (subsequently achieving promotion with them via the play-offs), and was replaced by Carlisle United boss Paul Simpson, who took over Davies’s team and initially carried on where Davies left off.
Preston spent much of the 2006–07 season in the automatic promotion or play-off places. However, from March 2007 the club slid rapidly down the league. This happened despite holding on to David Nugent in the transfer window and Simpson being allowed to bring in a number of loan signings. The club failed to make the end-of-season play-offs, finishing the season in seventh place, despite a 1–0 victory over Birmingham City at Deepdale on the final day of the season.
On 11 July 2007, Nugent, the first Preston player to win an England cap for 50 years, left the club to join Portsmouth for a reported transfer fee of £6,000,000. Although the club lost only one key player and brought in several players including Darren Carter, Kevin Nicholls and Karl Hawley to reshape the team, they did not recover from their poor run of form.
In August 2007, Simpson banned the playing of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love before games, a song which had been a popular part of the pre-match music at Deepdale for over ten years, stating, “I don’t know whose idea this song is at the start, because it seems to put everyone in a bit of a depression. We have to make sure we get something which the players respond to and go out and perform and the fans respond to as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we are losing games because of that song. But we have to do whatever we can to generate an atmosphere”, a move which angered some Preston fans.
After a bad start to the 2007–08 season which saw the club pick up just three wins, Paul Simpson was sacked as manager on 13 November 2007.
On 20 November, Everton’s assistant manager Alan Irvine was appointed as Preston’s new manager on a three-and-a-half year deal. He achieved his first objective as manager by finishing in 15th place, thus securing Preston’s survival in the Championship.
The following season, he led Preston to 6th place in the Championship after a good run of form towards the end of the season, qualifying for the play-offs. The club again missed out on promotion to the Premier League after losing 2–1 on aggregate to Sheffield United.
On 29 December 2008, Irvine was sacked after a poor run of results, with the club appointing Darren Ferguson as his successor on 6 January 2009. Ferguson made his home debut in a 2–0 loss to Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Cup. However, Preston won their next two games, beating Ferguson’s old club Peterborough United 1–0 and Ipswich Town 2–0. This was followed by a run of poor results and Preston were soon in danger of relegation, but a 3–2 home victory against Scunthorpe United secured their survival in the Championship.
In the 2009–10 season, Preston finished in 17th place. On 28 September 2010, Preston North End became the first away team to score six goals at Elland Road. Trailing 4–2 at half time, Preston made a sensational second-half comeback to win the match 6–4, with Jon Parkin scoring his second hat-trick of 2010 (the first being in the 7–0 thrashing of Colchester in the F.A. Cup Third Round on 2 January 2010), but his first league hat-trick in over 5 years. On 29 December 2010 Darren Ferguson was sacked following a 1–3 home defeat to relegation rivals Middlesbrough, leaving the club bottom of the Championship.
Former Hull City manager Phil Brown was appointed as Ferguson’s replacement, but could only achieve his first win in his 13th game in charge. This sparked an improved run of form, but could not prevent relegation to League One, confirmed by a 0–1 home defeat to Cardiff City in April. The relegation was marked by the traditional Burial of the Coffin in Bamber Bridge on the 24 July 2011.
Brown was sacked on 14 December 2011 after less than a year in charge, being temporarily replaced by Graham Alexander and David Unsworth. After four weeks of interviews, Preston approached Stevenage manager Graham Westley and he was appointed manager on Friday 13 January 2012. Following a poor string of results, including a club record run of 12 home games without a win, Westley was sacked as Preston manager on 13 February 2013.
On 18 February 2013, it was confirmed that Simon Grayson had taken charge of Preston, to be joined at the club by Glynn Snodin, who had worked alongside Grayson at both Leeds United and Huddersfield Town.
The 2013/14 season resulted in a 4th place in League One after an unsuccessfull atempt to reach the play off final. Preston ended up loosing to Rotherham United over to legs.
Preston came very close to Wembley in January 2015 when they played Walsall in the semi finals of the Johnstone Paint Trophy Cup. Unfortunally two late goals conseived at home in the first leg made the difference between the to sides and Walsall went on to the final against Bristol City.
In the FA cup run the same year Preston playd Manchester United at home after beating Sheffield United 3-1 away after beign 1 goal behind at halftime. It was over 40 years since the Manchester club had playd an official game at Deepdale. The League One club took the lead when Scott Laird scored just after half time. After a few questionable goals in a little over 20 minute United won the tie 3-1 and went on to play Arsenal at home.
The 2014/15 season came to an end after a 4-0 win at Wembley against Swindon Town. Jermaine Beckford became the third player in history to score a hat-trick in a Wembley playoff final. The other goalscorer was Paul Huntington. Preston started the playoff by beating Chesterfield 1-0 away and 3-0 at home. This was Preston´s 10th playoff and the first one to result in a promotion. The team had everything going for them untill the last game of the regular season when losing away to Colchester United. MK Dons won their last game against already relegated Yeovil Town and secured 2nd place and a direct promotion. That would have been to easy for Preston North End who likes a bit of drama.
History is written every day but we´ll stick to updating it here once in a while.