Iain Hume was delighted to pull on a Preston shirt for the first time in 15 months as they lost against Liverpool in the Shankly Shield friendly.
North End fell to a 4-0 defeat against their Premier League opponents, in front of a sell-out crowd, and Hume, who came on as a half-time substitute, was full of praise for the welcome he received from Preston fans on his return to Deepdale.
“It’s been a long time but the fans have been and, even just from the warm up, were brilliant,” the Canadian said. “It’s typical of the fans here. They were right behind me and the team and made me feel welcome again.”
“The attendance today was ridiculous. The amount of fans that were here, especially being a Liverpool fan myself, was unbelievable and to be back at PNE for a game like this, in front of 21,000 for just a friendly – it’s unheard of.
“You hear of teams in the States getting crowds like this for friendlies, but for a League One side playing a Premier League side, it’s remarkable. What can I say; it’s great to be back.”
Despite the scoreline Hume called for North End fans to not judge the side on the result, insisting it was a necessity in their preparations for the season opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers next month.
“We normally start pre-season against Chorley or Bamber Bridge, or against another lower league or Conference team, so to be thrown in against one of the best passing teams in Europe is a bit daunting anyway,” Hume said.
“The fans have got to take it on board that it was our first time out and it was the first time I’ve been part of this team with all these guys apart from Bailey [Wright] and Stucky [Thorsten Stuckmann]. It’s going to come.
“Today was just about the fitness side of thing and while it’s unfortunate the result didn’t go our way, the more games we have the fitter we’ll get and the more results will go our way.
Hume continued: “We’ve got six games between now and the start of the season. I don’t think there is going to be any worry about where we’re going to be come August 3rd.
“Today was exactly that, a stepping stone to the start of the season and it’s exactly what we needed to make sure we’re ready for Wolves.”
After seeing North End sign former England international Kevin Davies, Hume was delighted to be told that he had a future at the Club during the week, having previously been made available for transfer since the start of last season.
“Everything was up in the air with what was going on surrounding my future,” Hume confessed. “I’d spoken to the manager and Mr Ridsdale at the start of pre-season and they outlined what was happening and what needed to happen.
“I’m a grown guy like the gaffer said. I took it on the chin and was just getting on with it and training, but then all of a sudden in the middle of training Mr Ridsdale comes over in the middle of training and says we’ve be able to structure things and if it’s alright with you then we’d like to keep you.
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do all along. I never wanted to leave the Club in the first place but that’s how things turned out. I went away to Doncaster last year and ended up the season as a League One champion.
Now I’m back I want to do it again here.
Having been part of a promotion winning side last season, Hume is convinced Preston have enough in the locker to challenge for the League One title this upcoming season.
“For Mr Hemmings to bring me back practically the same day as announcing Big Kev really shows the Club’s intent,” Hume insisted.
“The way they finished last season was tremendous, and they’ve brought in some very good players this summer.
“You look at our players and our squad, I don’t think there’s a weak spot in the team. Obviously adding Kevin Davies to the team makes us even stronger.
Hume added: “Chris [Humphrey] when he is fully fit is going to be a very dangerous player this season in this league. Then you’ve got myself, Kev, Stu [Beavon], Joe Garner, Lee Holmes – the list goes on.
“If we get everyone fit come the start of the season then I think we’re going to give Wolves one hell of a game, then Blackpool two days later. The fans have got an exciting time ahead.”