Simon Grayson took his squad to Weeton Barracks for an alternative day’s training with the army.
After a few tough sessions on the Springfields training pitches, the North End first team squad took in a day of working and playing hard as they spent the morning in the gym being put through their paces by the army physical training instructors, before getting their hands on guns in the virtual firing range.
A poignant moment was also observed as both Grayson and Major George Briscoe MBE exchanged words and mementos of the day in front of the barracks war memorial.
Some members of the Lilywhites’ squad even got involved in cycling to Afghanistan – although not literally, as they helped the army fundraisers who are cycling the distance from the barracks to Afghanistan on a spinning bike, in the name of charity.
“It has been a bit of a change of scenery from the training ground and our usual gym,” said Bailey Wright when speaking to PNE.Com.
“We done a good session in the morning and it’s fair to say it was fairly hard, they gave us a little bit of a battering, it was good work and good for us to bond a bit doing something different.
“The army guys have been showing us a bit of what training they do and what they get put through day to day.
“The lads are away from where we are used to training, so it is good for bonding and team building to do things like this and learning the ways that different people train.
“They are all in the army and they have worked really hard to get to where they are and they have shown us a bit of their world so it’s a change of scenery and it’s a nice change.”
Although some of the physical training routines seen where similar to what the players go through on a day to day basis, there was one noticeable absentee from yesterday’s training regime as Wright explained.
“The biggest difference is that we haven’t seen a football yet!
“We have had the footballs out most days - that’s not to say it has been easy, it has been hard work, really hard.
“Everyone has been pushing themselves and getting fit and this is just a bit different.
“There has been some similar stuff, press-ups and things like that, but it has been a bit different in terms of intensities and how they do it.”
Major George Briscoe MBE, of the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, was delighted to have the North End squad on his patch for the day and he was keen to emphasis the long, historic, intertwining of both organisations.
He said: “Our regimental headquarters is in Preston and of course North End are based at Deepdale and as such, we have always had a long affiliation with the football club and indeed some of our older soldiers; probably around Sir Tom Finney’s era, have played for Preston North End in the youth team ranks before joining the army, so we go back a long way with each other.
“It is always great to see local organisations taking an interest in the soldiers and we have got a lot of support at the moment, in particular being in Afghanistan.
“Preston North End have got a very deep entrenched history over in Preston and so has the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.”