Preston North End begin their League One campaign with a crunch match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Deepdale, on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
Both clubs featured in the Football League’s inaugural season and the very first meeting between the sides took place 125 years ago as Preston ran out 4-0 winners, on 18th September 1888, to kick start their Invincibles campaign.
Overall, there have been 114 matches between the two teams with the Lilywhites winning 48 – five more than Wolves.
Their latest encounter was in January 2009 as Preston took all three points away from Molineux in a 3-1 win, thanks to a brace by Stephen Elliot and a Sean St Ledger strike.
There have been major changes at Wolves this summer, following their relegation to League One from the Championship, as Kenny Jackett was hired to try and return the side to the second tier of English football at the first attempt.
Karl Henry, Shaun O’Hara, Stephen Ward and Roger Johnson were all told they could leave the club, while veteran defender Sam Ricketts arrived on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers and striker Leigh Griffiths returned from his successful loan spell with Hibs.
Meanwhile, PNE boss Simon Grayson made crucial additions to his squad, injecting pace with Chris Humphrey, defensive nous through Tom Clarke and sheer strength up front thanks to the signing of England international striker Kevin Davies.
Declan Rudd was retained on a season long loan, while Thorsten Stuckmann signed a two year deal to keep him at the Club until at least 2015.
There were also new deals for winger Will Hayhurst and Australian centre back Bailey Wright – both products of the Club’s excellent academy set up.
And that trend continued as defender Ben Davies, imposing midfielder Ryan Croasdale and ‘keeper Steven James signed their very first professional contracts with North End, having progressed through the Lilywhites youth team.
Manager Simon Grayson expects to have a fully fit squad available for selection for the visit of Wolves, apart from Stuart Beavon [knee] who is still suffering the effects of the injury he sustained in North End’s pre-season friendly against Chorley.
Wolves, meanwhile, have goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey back at their disposal after a reoccurrence of cruciate knee ligament injury he originally suffered in April 2012.
Bjorn Sigurdarson is also no longer a worry for the visitors after recovering from a slight hamstring problem earlier in pre-season. Therefore, Kenny Jackett should have a full squad to choose from on Saturday.
Against Wolves, PNE have scored a total of 182 goals with 117 of those coming at Deepdale.
The Club’s biggest home win against Saturday’s visitors was by 5-1 in both 1890 and 1928 – just two of five occasions the Lilywhites have netted five against Wolves!
North End have only played two other clubs in the Football League more times than the 108 meetings they have had with Wolves (Burnley 124, Bolton 118).
One From The Archives
In 1953, both PNE and Wolves were battling Arsenal in the race to be crowned First Division champions.
The sides faced each other at Deepdale with just over two weeks to go before the League’s climax and their final standings in the balance.
The game eventually finished in a 1-1 stalemate, helping neither team in their pushes to become champions and paving the way for the Gunners to claim the title.
Tyne and Wear-born Andy Haines took charge of two PNE games last season, one away and one at home, with North End winning both.
The first was an FA Cup tie against eventual Play-Off promotion winners Yeovil Town, as the Lilywhites triumphed 3-0 thanks to goals from Joel Byrom, David Amoo and Chris Robertson.
The other was Preston’s crucial 1-0 win away at Hartlepool United – John Mousinho with the 45th minute strike to give the Lilywhites the victory.
Mr Haines’ first visit to Deepdale was a1-1 stalemate between PNE and Plymouth Argyle in 2009. Both goals came in the first half – one from current Fleetwood Town forward Jon Parkin and the other a successful Jamie Macken strike.
Last season, the official brandished 87 yellow cards and dismissed four players from the field of play – comparatively low totals compared with his refereeing counterparts.
Kenny Jackett enjoyed a decade-long playing career with his hometown club Watford, before going onto take charge of the Hornets in 1993.
He spent four years at the helm at Vicarage Road, carving out a 32% winning percentage before leaving the club in 1997.
He would join Swansea in 2004 and then Millwall three years later, where he enjoyed the body of his managerial success.
Following the 2012/13 season, Jackett pursued a new challenge and was hired by Wolves earlier this summer.
One To Watch
Scotland international Leigh Griffiths will lead Wolves’ front line this year and poses a real threat to League One defences up and down the country.
The former Livingston striker was signed from Dundee in 2009 and was subsequently loaned to Hibernian to gain some first team experience.
In his first season at Easter Road, the 22-year-old managed 11 goals in 36 appearances, before making a real splash for the Edinburgh outfit in the 2012/13 campaign.
As Hibs finished seventh in the Scottish Premier League, Griffiths grabbed an incredible 28 goals in 47 appearances – a record better than one goal every two games.
The usual 2013/14 matchday prices apply and tickets can be purchased on MyPNE.Com or at the ticket office at Deepdale up until, and including, Saturday afternoon.
It’s just £20 for an adult ticket for the match, in the Alan Kelly Town End, while a junior fans (8-15) can gain entry to any stand in the stadium for just £8.
The One And Only
The first edition of PNE’s official matchday programme for the 2013/14 season is full of exclusive interviews and riveting Club news.
North End and Wolves legend Mark Rankine gives his view ahead of the match, while an exclusive interview with Kenny Jackett sees us get the inside track on how our opponents’ preparation for the new campaign has gone.
Meanwhile, summer signing Kevin Davies tells us why he chose PNE over a host of other clubs and there is even a free poster inside!
Jonathan Breeze will provide full commentary of PNE’s match against Wolves and will be accompanied by a former North End player, yet to be confirmed.
Click here to watch the Gaffer give his view on the opener against the Midlands club.
Click here to watch Lee Holmes on the preparation of the first team prior to the big kick off.
Click here to read the thoughts of Kevin Davis as he targets a goal scoring Deepdale debut on his competitive bow for PNE.
Click here to read Midlands-lad Chris Humphrey’s hopes ahead of the match against his boyhood rivals.