Swindon skipper Alan McCormack speaks to PNE.Com ahead of this weekend's game...
“But it shows what our club is about at the moment – there’s a passion for the game and a willingness to keep going and going and going. What’s been driven into us from Monday to Friday comes out on a game day.
“We had a couple of fantastic results last year; we beat Wigan in the FA Cup third round and beat Huddersfield and Colchester,” said McCormack. “We had a taste on Tuesday against a team that’s notorious for being hard to play against and hard to break down. The way they kept going to come back to two-all – a lot of teams would have just crumbled, and at one point we sort of did, we stepped back a little bit.
An entertaining figure throughout his football career, Paolo Di Canio is swiftly earning a similar label as manager of Swindon. While Preston beat Crystal Palace 4-1 at home in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, a late James Collins goal – his third of the game – gave Town a 4-3 away victory at Premier League side Stoke City after extra-time.
“Certainly for me, since I got the armband on a permanent basis, I’ve wanted to go out and try and get better and better with each game and I’ve got to continue to do that. But at the same time you’ve got to lead your team, you’ve got to make your players believe in anything that we do on and off the pitch.”
“You’ve got to go out and continue to be the best and perform to the best you can be. I think everybody has got to be that way and should have that mentality of continuing to be the best, not just think that because you’ve got the armband you are the best.
McCormack was named as Swindon captain in August and he is thoroughly enjoying his time as skipper, his passion for the role evident: “I had a good taste of it last year when unfortunately our captain Paul Caddis had an injury for a while. It’s a tremendous feeling to have, leading your team out and to wear the armband, but it doesn’t make any difference to the player that you’ve got to be.
“We always bring numbers, our away fans have been tremendous over the last 14 or 15 months, so please can we bring more as well to add to hopefully a big crowd that the Preston fans bring to the game.”
“It’s a massive lift to the home team – they do become the 12th man, any player will tell you that. When the crowds are big it does spur the team on. You hear that roar when you’re on the pitch and it does have an impact on the home team and the away team.
“One thing I have noticed in the past few years, which tends to happen when a club slips down the divisions or doesn’t perform as well as they’d like to, is the loss in attendances,” he continued. “I can remember Deepdale holding 18 and 19,000 at times; it’s an incredible place to be and I think any stadium is that gets those numbers.
It’s not just a big occasion for McCormack, however, as the game falls in the midst of the Preston Guild, the event which occurs every 20 years. As the City becomes shrouded in pride and celebrations, the midfielder appealed to fans of both clubs to benefit from the festivities and get Deepdale rocking for his first game back.
"I’ve got a lot of time and a lot of credit for that, I look back and I never have a bad word to say about it. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the Club, I’ll always have fond memories of the place and this weekend will be no different. I’ll go there, say hello to friends who are coming to the game and enjoy it.”
“To lead my team out at Deepdale, where it all began, will be another great moment for me to look back on,” McCormack told the matchday programme. “I had a great few years there and I learnt a hell of a lot – enough to help me go on and continue my career in the professional game in England.
The Irishman spent five years at Deepdale, making his debut in March 2004, going on to make 11 appearances. He was loaned out to three different clubs during that time and Preston holds a place in his heart as his first English club, and the 28-year-old retains a great deal of fondness for the Lilywhites as he prepares to walk out to face his former employers this weekend.
McCormack was an ever-present during the Robins’ promotion-winning campaign in League Two last season, making 51 appearances and scoring twice following his move from Charlton Athletic in July 2011, and has also made a successful transition from midfield into defence.
Former Preston midfielder Alan McCormack will return to the Club which kicked off his footballing career on Sunday, and The One And Only have an exclusive interview with the Swindon captain in this Sunday’s exciting 84 page edition.
The return of a former player, in a game which follows the beginning of the Preston Guild and features two sides which scored four goals during the week – this is certainly a fixture which has all the credentials to be a thoroughly compelling contest – and you can read a lot more from McCormack in an exclusive interview in The One And Only – make sure you don’t miss out on the special Guild edition, available for just £3 – pick it up from the Club shop or matchday sellers on Sunday.