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‘Rocket’ Ronnie Hildersley Speaks About Special 1987 Strike Against Middlesbrough

25 August 2014

As Preston prepare to face Middlesbrough, PNE.Com caught up with ‘Rocket’ Ronnie Hildersley, who made a lasting impact on North End fans with a special goal at Ayresome Park in 1987.

Having beaten Bury and Chorley in the first and second rounds respectively, the Lilywhites travelled north east to face the Boro in the FA Cup third round.

The game took place on a typically freezing cold January afternoon and, speaking exclusively to the Club’s official website, Hildersley revealed there were doubts over the tie going ahead.

“The game should never have been played really. We got up in the morning, had some breakfast, went for a walk, came back and it was pretty bad conditions,” he said.

“We thought it would be touch-and-go as to whether it might be on but eventually we got to the ground, walked out and thought it might be on.

“We got there, got out, tried out different boots and all I had was a pair of old trainers in my bag and I thought ‘I’ll try them’ and it was the best grip I’d ever had.”

Those trainers served Hildersley well. The midfielder scored the only goal of a 1-0 win for Preston, sealing a trip back to the north east to face Newcastle United in the next round.

But this was no ordinary goal. North End strung a few passes together from the right wing, with the ball arriving at Ronnie’s feet around 30-yards out.

He took a couple of touches and sent it rocketing into the top right hand corner with a ferocious swipe of his left trainer.

“It was a split decision, I knew it came from the right hand side and the final pass, it felt like it took ages to get to me,” Ronnie explained.

“I took my first touch and my second touch was not that clever really and I just let go and I’ve only seen the goal one since.

“Simon Crabtree sent it to me the other night on Twitter and I thought for years it went in the other top corner but it didn’t.”

The current Preston squad saw off Rochdale in the first round of the Capital One Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Spotland Stadium.

The win set-up a tie at Middlesbrough and, although Aitor Karanka’s side currently sit a league above the Lilywhites, Hildersley is convinced Simon Grayson’s charges can go there without any fear.

“I think we will beat them,” Ronnie said. “I watched them last week and the week before and there’s nothing that frightens me from what I have seen.

“It’s the cup and these lads have nothing to fear. They can go in there, there are a lot of good players here and he [Grayson] is trying to gel them together.

“They did well last year but this year he is going to make a push for it. Simon has got a good head on his shoulders.

“But these lads should have no fear going into this game and no fear going to face them.

“Forget about them being a league above, it’s a cup and anything can happen.”

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