As we prepare to honour one of Preston North End’s greatest players in a way never been done before, we take a look back at some of the legendary names that have taken up residence at Deepdale.
Preston North End is an institution in Lancashire. Forever raising our spirits and bringing out the passion that binds us together by the love of the beautiful game.
For 138 years, PNE has captured our hearts on the pitch with a distinct ability to always do us proud. And, this has only been enhanced by some of the incredible players who have donned the kit and became a Lilywhites legend.
Sir Tom Finney
We wouldn’t be able to talk about Preston North End’s greatest players without a strong nod to the legend that we know and love from the team: Sir Tom Finney.
Finney was such a loyal player to his beloved Preston that he stayed a one-club man throughout the entirety of his career, from his debut at 14 to retirement at 38, he was a Lilywhite through and through.
He enjoyed an outstanding career at Preston North End, showing time and time again that he was a force to be reckoned with and the spiritual embodiment of the club. It’s been said that when Finney retired, the heart of the club went with him and the team were relegated not long after.
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) April 5, 2016
With the ability to play on both wings or anywhere in the front line, his speed and skill were comparable to none and, even when offered an eye-watering sum and wage from an Italian club, he remained faithful to Preston North End.
Born just minutes away from Deepdale where he would spend his entire career, Finney was a man of the people – and the entirety of Preston had a heavy heart when he passed away at the grand old age of 91.
His legend lives on however, as The Shankly Hotel in Preston sponsors The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre.
A true class act and fondly remembered by the town he loved, Tom Finney will forever be one of Preston North End’s greatest players.
While not Preston-born himself, North End was the club where Graham Alexander spent most of his career, making over 400 appearances for PNE. He’s often cited as a fan favourite of the modern game and quickly became club captain, while he was paramount in Preston’s promotion to the second tier in his first full season.
Alexander was also present for Preston’s rise through the Football league from the Second Division in the 1998-99 season all the way to the Championship from 2004 until the 2007-08 season.
He’s a modern example of one of Preston North End’s greatest players and has set the bar for new players in the new age of the beautiful game.
Fondly known as the ‘Black Prince’, Alex Dawson stole hearts in the football world during his professional career. After starting his career at Manchester United and helping the team win the league title in 1957, he transferred to Preston North End in 1961 and was a key member in the 1964 FA Cup Final team.
He scored one of the two goals in the 1964 cup final, but the Black Prince and his team were unsuccessful in their bid and lost 3-2 to West Ham.
During his time at PNE, he scored 114 times in 197 league appearances and finished as the team’s top scorer in four of those campaigns.
Another aspect which leads him to be credited as one of Preston North End’s greatest players is his score of five hat tricks in his five seasons at the club.
Alan Kelly is one of the longest standing players at Preston North End, with 13 years under his belt with the Lilywhites. He also holds the club record of 513 appearances as one of Preston North End’s greatest players.
He was there throughout a rollercoaster of promotions and relegation’s, seeing them through from the second division to the first and all the way down to relegation to the third tier.
Nevertheless, he stayed loyal right up until his final match, even going on to manage North End in 1983 for two years. Such is his standing as a legend, he joined fellow icons Finney and Shankly in having a stand named after him in 2001 – The Alan Kelly Town End.
The story of Shankly signing for Preston North End is a rocky one. At the time, he was playing professionally for Carlisle United and had hopes of sticking with them, but Preston were very much interested in having the up and coming player as part of their team.
Their initial offer of a £500 transfer fee and wages of £5 a week was deemed not enough by Shankly and the deal was close to not coming to fruition, but Shankly’s brother Alec was the one to point out that Preston North End held more potential for the talented player.
While his career at Preston began in the reserves, it wasn’t long until he made his first team debut, just months after Shankly’s 20th birthday. He soon established himself as a committed player and first-team regular, and the crowd fell in love with the boy from Glenbuck.
The highlight season of his time playing for Preston came in 1937-38, when Preston reached the FA Cup Final and defeated Huddersfield Town. 1938 also marked the year that Preston North End finished third in the league.
Although the War took the peak years of his playing career, Shankly returned to Preston in the 1946-47 season, despite coming to the end of his playing days. He left Preston North End as one of their greatest players to become a coach at his once-loved Carlisle United.
The first Australian to feature in an FA Cup Final, John Marston was a Preston pioneer. The tireless centre-half starred at Deepdale throughout the first half of the 1950s, thriving as the Lilywhites won the Second Division trophy in 1951.
Signed from Annandale in 1950 for £665, Marston was a linchpin alongside the likes of Tom Finney and Tommy Docherty throughout the 50s. However, in the summer of 1955, Marston announced that he was homesick and wanted to leave Lancashire – much to the dismay of the Deepdale faithful.
The club, however, were desperate to retain him – so much so that the lord Mayor of Preston started a fund to persuade him to stay at PNE. But, he returned to Australia.
Despite his departure, fans named him fourth in a vote to determine Preston North End’s greatest players.
Honouring One of Preston North End’s Greatest Players
We at Signature Living are looking forward to celebrating everything Preston has to say and do. We also can’t wait to continue the story of The Old Post Office and what we do best by reviving this iconic, architectural masterpiece.