John Welsh will return to Hull City’s KC Stadium on Saturday, but will be hoping for better memories of his last PNE game in Humberside.
On March 10th 2007 the midfield man lined up against the Lilywhites for the Tigers, but his involvement in the game came to a premature end when he clashed with former Liverpool team-mate Neil Mellor, resulting in a broken tibia and fibula.
This meant a prolonged absence from the game, a time he doesn’t care to spend too much time dwelling on.
“When it was first mentioned to me a couple of days ago, it was the first time I’d remember it – it wasn’t in my mind until then,” he told PNE.Com – who apologised for raising it with him! “It’s not something I don’t look back on too often. It is just something that happens in football – you pick up injuries, some worse than others, and I will try not to think about it going into the game.
“I remember talking to Mells the morning of the game and he said he was going to kick me and I was saying I was going to kick him. It was only about three minutes into the game when the ball bounced in between us – I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. The ball bounced around hip high and we both tried to get the ball and he caught my trailing leg.
“I heard a lot of stuff after the game that people wanted me sent off, but I just remember hearing the noise and knowing it was broken. I just tried to stay still as long as possible and try to get the physio’s attention. My family were in the crowd and they were panicking, so it wasn’t the best experience, but these things happen, it comes with the game.”
Despite that dark moment the 31-year-old speaks fondly of his time with recently relegated side: “I loved my time at Hull. We lived down there for a couple of years and I had my lad there. We made some good friends and it is a great football club, great stadium and everything is set for the Premier League,” he continued.
“It was so professional and they did everything to help me that they could, so I have nothing but good memories.
“There aren’t many people there from when I was there, so it will be a little strange going back, but I am looking forward to it and looking forward to going and getting the three points!”
Simon Grayson’s side face a tough opponent on Saturday and whilst there may not have been too many familiar names on the team sheet in Tuesday’s win over Watford, that can’t be said for Steve Bruce’s side, who are packed with household names.
“The sort of thing I do the week before a game is look at the last team they put out and you recognise pretty much every name on their team sheet.
“They have all played at a high level, are full internationals and have played at Premier League level, so we know it is going to be a tough game, but we are saying the same every week.
“The away form that we have shown this year and last year has been very good, so we will be going there full of confidence. The Ipswich game wasn’t a great result for us, but performance wise we played well, so I don’t think there will be any loss of confidence in the group.
“In the dressing room we felt there was nothing to fear [in the Championship]. We knew Middlesbrough was going to be tough and that it would be a tough season, but I felt that the lads were confident that they deserved to be in the Championship and good enough to play at that level.
“Middlesbrough reinforced the confidence that we had; every week is going to be tough, but we believe we can win and be competitive at this level. Nothing has changed – the Ipswich game didn’t go our way but performance wise we more than matched them and should have got something from the game. If we keep that level of performance up, then we should be all right.”
After the defeat against Ipswich the Lilywhites bounced back by being the only team to knock out a Premier League club in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup triumph over Watford.
This continued a long run of reacting positively to a difficult result by North End under the management of Simon Grayson.
“I remember a quote saying that ‘good teams don’t lose two in a row’ and that’s what we are good at. We get setbacks, but we come back just as strong. We felt that last season and it has carried on into this season.
“It’s a weapon that we have, that when we lose a game or get a setback we always come back stronger. We proved that on Tuesday. The lads were brilliant against a tough opponent in Watford and that set us up for the game this weekend,” concluded the No.19.