Preston North End

Ground No. 18
Visited - Saturday 22nd February 2003
Result - Preston North End 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Nationwide League Division 1
Attendance - 16,070

I'd been looking forward to Deepdale for quite a while for two reasons, one being that having never been there before it was a new ground to visit, and secondly because I was looking forward to seeing the National Football Museum that is based at the ground.

Starting the day early, I caught the train at 8am, and after changing in Stoke and Manchester arrived into Preston at about 11:30. Once there it was a quick walk up to the ground, and into the museum. After being a little put off by the prices shown on their website I was pleasantly surprised when they charged me half-price because I showed my match ticket, so after that it was a walk around there. I'm not really a museum person normally, but after spending about an hour in there looking at football relics of years gone by I came out very impressed with it. There’s all sorts of things from replicas of various cups, to an interactive gallery and a window where you can see out over Deepdale.

After coming out of there, I walked back into town, and had a look around and grabbed a bite to eat, Preston seemed a nice place, a lot bigger than I'd expected, which was good. With time catching up on me, I walked back up Deepdale Road for the third time, and around to the away entrances. From the outside the ground looks nice, and has an interesting set of floodlights. Once inside it is very impressive, the away end, and the stands opposite and to the right are large and all the same design, and together look quite imposing. Unfortunately to the left is the old Pavilion Stand which lets the rest of the ground down, with a small section of terracing, and even smaller upper tier it is dwarfed by its new neighbours and looks out of place, and of a different age. If the other 3 sides could be replicated on this side then it would look an amazing ground. However, despite looking good, what the club haven't done well is the space between the seats, which I have never known as being so small, which for a new stand is especially poor. Legroom is fine, but where I was sitting, around people who you couldn’t really describe as being fat or anything we were crammed in, literally shoulder to shoulder, it was that bad that during the first half my phone vibrated, and I couldn’t even get it out of my pocket because we were so packed in!

After viewing our surroundings the game started and Preston were straight on the attack. They kept this up all game, and we hardly even got out of our own half, although there were a few shots of note. Despite the pressure from the home team, the first-half ended 0-0. We came out for the second, and it was the same again, all Preston. After about 10 minutes though, when a Preston corner landed on the edge of our area George Ndah picked it up and went on to run the entire length of the pitch shackled by 3 Preston players, before from the edge of the opposite area chipping it over the oncoming keeper into the corner of the goal. It was an amazing goal, truly amazing, and if it had been scored by Thierry Henry or someone then it would be shown on TV for years to come, but as it was only a Wolves player of course it got no more showing than the usual highlights programmes. With that we looked like a different team, and the game opened out more. Before long we got another one when Adam Proudlock crossed from the right where Kenny Miller slotted it in from close range. Preston stepped up their efforts, but it was to end 2-0 to us.

Throughout, there was a decent atmosphere from both home and away fans, and I didn’t see any sign of trouble anywhere before or afterwards, which made the decision to keep us in for about 15 minutes afterwards seem strange, but we got out eventually and after a quick walk back into town, and another wait at the station I eventually got on a train back home.

Overall it was a good day, with a nice win that we probably didn’t deserve really. The ground is a nice one, and if they can complete it by rebuilding the 4th side then it will be very good.

Ground No. 18 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 12th March 2005
Result - Preston North End 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 16,296

I'd been looking forward to going back to Deepdale for quite a while, having enjoyed the trip last time, so when the fixtures were announced I was a bit disappointed to have to wait until March, but of course that soon came round.

We started the day off early, and caught the train north, changing in Manchester to have a stop off at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium on the way. After taking a few pictures there, we carried on the journey, arriving into Preston at about midday.

First of all we stopped off to have a bite to eat, and then we made our way up to the ground, and went all around taking pictures. I hadn’t done this the last time, so it was quite interesting seeing the other sides of the ground. The three new stands, despite being an impressive size, especially with the imposing floodlights towering over them, are unfortunately a little bland, but that is in sharp contrast to the rear of the Pavilion Stand, which takes you right back to a different age of football. The ivy-covered brickwork really is a refreshing change from the cold, emotionless metal clad exterior of the rest of the ground, and although it perhaps does look a little untidy in places, it oozes character, which is always good to see.

After having taken pictures of around the ground, including the impressive Tom Finney statue, (another new addition since my last visit), we managed to get in through a side gate, and went all around taking pictures of the inside. Unlike the exterior, it’s the three new stands that are the most impressive part of the ground, with only the Pavilion Stand letting Deepdale down. All of the redeveloped stands are of the same design, being quite steep and particularly imposing, towering over the Pavilion Stand. Instead of the writing you normally see in stands, they all have the faces of former players in the seat design, which looks quite good. On the 4th side, the last remaining part of the old Deepdale, the Pavilion Stand does look quite run down, with a section of unused, open terracing at the front, and for part of it, a second tier of covered seating behind that. As with a lot of stands its age, it probably wouldn’t seem quite so bad if it wasn’t standing next to 3 shiny, new neighbouring stands, but with a number of advertising boards, and two portacabins randomly placed in the old terracing, it does look quite scruffy, something that the club could change with a little effort put in to enhance its appearance, but there's no doubt that this stand has had its day, and the sooner it is replaced the better really.

Once I'd got enough pictures, we left the ground, and walked around to the football museum, and spent some time looking around it. Much was the same as two years previously, but I couldn’t help feeling that it wasn’t quite as good as then. Perhaps it was just because I had seen the displays before, or remembered it as being better than it is, but it was still an interesting trip around, and worth doing for a first time visitor.

We left there at about 2:40pm, and walked back round to our turnstiles, going in and finding the seats. The game soon started, and before long we were cursing when Preston went 1-0 up with just three minutes gone. The home side were looking dangerous, with some slick passing, but we got ourselves back in it, when from a free-kick Jody Craddock levelled the scores on 10 minutes. The rest of the half was end to end, with Preston looking most likely to take the lead, something they carried on into the second half. It took a penalty for them to make it 2-1, but that only seemed to will us into action, and after that we were the ones who seemed most likely to get the next goal. Kenny Miller missed an open goal twice in the same move, before on 73 minutes, the inspired Seol showed him how to do it, scoring from the edge of the area. The rest of the game was played out with both teams looking to win it, but it wasn’t to be, and the game finished 2-2.

Despite the best efforts of the club beforehand to get an atmosphere going, there wasn’t really any noise from the home or away supporters all game, which was a shame, but there hadn’t really been much on the pitch to inspire the fans off it, so it wasn’t that surprising.

After leaving the ground, we made the walk back to the station, only to have a bad journey back, standing up on the train all the way to Manchester, before finally getting a seat on the next train home.

Overall it had been quite a good trip, nice to see the ground again, although as before, my main thoughts are how it will be especially good to see it once the fourth side is completed, as when that is done it really could be one of the best grounds in the league.

Main Entrance to the Sir Tom Finney Stand

The Club Shop

Rear of the Alan Kelly Town End

Rear of the Pavilion Stand

Rear of the Pavilion Stand

Rear of the Bill Shankly Kop

The National Football Museum

The Sir Tom Finney Statue

The Sir Tom Finney Stand

The Bill Shankly Kop

The Pavilion Stand

The Alan Kelly Town End

The Pavilion Stand

The Alan Kelly Town End

The Sir Tom Finney Stand

Deepdale Panoramic 1

Deepdale Panoramic 3


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