Bailey Wright, Jack King, Scott Laird and Will Hayhurst spent the afternoon at the Preston primary school to help them celebrate.
In association with Spar, a ‘design a kit’ competition was launched between the club and the supermarket chain and St Gregory’s were the deserved winners with Ribbleton Junior School coming a close second.
Umayr Panchbhaya was the pupil who came up with the strip, a green and yellow diagonal design, which will now be made into a kit which the school will proudly wear next school term.
As well as winning that prize, the school were awarded with 240 tickets for this Saturday’s match with Tranmere Rovers and four of the North End first team squad put on a coaching clinic to the delight of the kids.
Ribbleton Junior School were not forgotten however as their strip designer Husnaa Malik earned 120 tickets for the match and a signed ball for the school.
After an hour long session, which took it out of the players more than it did the children, defender Wright said: “It was good fun, I think I had about as much fun as the kids, running around and being a big kid again so it was good.
“I was just saying I need a seat, I can’t wait to get in the car and just relax!
“The smiles on the faces of the kids show they had good fun and we all had a bit of fun and joined in too so it was good.
“These initiatives between the club and the community are very important.
“Growing up as a kid, being able to interact with your role models, teams you support, getting involved with players who play for them is great, so the kids can meet you and it helps them because they look up to you a bit as well.
“It is good for us as well because you get to learn a bit about the community and the schools and get to know the area.
“Most people have always played school football, from a young age this is where you first start to learn and start to find out what you enjoy and what sort of sports suits you, so it is important that you get as many kids as possible out doing sport and keep them out of trouble and one of the best ways to do that is by interacting with them through sport.”
Those sentiments were backed up by Scott Laird who added jokingly: “I was right involved in that and they were kicking me!
“It was brilliant, it is nice to come down and take part in things like this, they are running around everywhere these kids and I will sleep well tonight, I am knackered, sweating and they are better than me!
“It is good to see all the lads come down, we all take it in turns at the training ground to get involved in things like this and they don’t hold back the lads, they all get involved.”
After a warm-up session, the kids got involved in short sided matches with the players playing for one team each.
But the tournament was not without its controversial moments as Jack King explained: “There were a few dodgy refereeing decisions; I think a couple of balls were over the line that weren’t given so we are going to blame Lairdy on the refereeing for that!
“I think goal line technology is needed, I am not sure it is going to be brought in to the playground yet but I think for next time we should have it!”
Philip Bates who is the headmaster at the school was thrilled to see the response from the children as they got the chance to meet their idols.
“It is absolutely fantastic,” said Bates.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for our children to engage with their hero’s at Deepdale so it has been a brilliant afternoon.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to have a brand new football kit provided for our children to represent our school and it looks fantastic.
“These initiatives are very, very important.
“We all know how important sport is to our children with the Olympic legacy and all the follow on from that so we encourage our children to do endless sport.”
Spar have been sponsors of the Family Stand at Deepdale for the last two seasons and they have shown their commitment to the club by agreeing to a third successive season which will lead to more successful community
events between the partnership and the community which pleases local lad Will Hayhurst.
“It is great showing your support to the community and it is great to go around the schools and get all the local kids involved and see a smile on their faces,” added the PNE No.24.
“We come and put a training session on and it is good to see the benefits.”