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History

One Hit Wonder - Mel Tottoh

15 June 2015

'The One And Only's' next One Hit Wonder wrote his name in Preston Folklore after his first and only cameo for North End.

Although he only ever made one first-team appearance for the Lilywhites, many will still recognise the name Mel Tottoh, as the man who answered Preston’s SOS call during their darkest days.

The 1985/86 season will send shivers down the spines of North End fans who were around that time with the club finishing that season in their lowest league position in PNE's history - second from bottom of the whole 92 football league clubs and having to re-apply for football league status.

It was during that period, when Mel received one of the most famous phone calls he’s ever likely to receive.

“I was working with British Aerospace on one of the flight simulator rigs and I got a call down in the lab saying Brian Kidd was on the phone,” Tottoh told The One And Only.

“There was a lot of joking around in those days and I just thought it was someone taking the mickey so I just put the phone down completely unaware that it was actually Brian.

“They were quite a few players down because of a flu epidemic, and the lights at Deepdale had failed which meant we had to kick off at 2:00pm and he asked if I could get there that day for then - without any hesitation I said of course I can.”

Preston were up against Scunthorpe that day with the game kicking off on a Tuesday afternoon - such was the inconvenient time only 2000 spectators witnessed Tottoh don the Lilywhite jersey. 

Despite the fact that the forward was about to make his maiden appearance in the first team, the 59-year-old recalls that his only worry going into the game was fatigue.

“I wasn’t nervous because I did play with the team in pre-season and trained with the first team once a month, so I knew all of the first-team players.

“The only anxiety I had was that I hadn’t had any time to do any warm-ups or any preparation - I’d cycled about 11 miles to get home to get my kit, and then from home to the game, so I was a bit anxious that I was going to be shattered by the time I got a run out.”

It was just as well then that Tottoh didn’t start the game, with the front man eventually being introduced as a second-half substitute replacing Mark Rodgers - another with just one North End appearance to his name.

But there's one moment during those 45 minutes of football that Tottoh lives to regret to this day.

“It took me a good 10 minutes to get up to the pace of the game when i came on," conceded the retired footballer.

"But after I got going I was fine, although we went 1-0 down and we were chasing the game.

“I remember Andy McAteer got out wide on the right hand side and surged towards to the Kop end before swinging in this cross - I jumped and flicked it on, but Stevie Elliot who was at the back post rifled it at the post before it went out of play.

"That would have been the equaliser and that might have changed history, but it wasn’t to be.”

Tottoh started out at fellow Lancashire side Morecambe, before Alan Spavin spotted the forward and invited him to Deepdale for a trial. After his spell at Preston, he later went on to play for Accrington Stanley and Kendal Town.

Once he hung up his boots, he left Aerospace to set up his own company which he works at to this day - working alongside large multi-national organisations to develop a strategy and purpose for their business.

Although Tottoh has since moved on to different things post-Preston, the now 59-year-old still has a love affair for the Lilywhites, and recollects some of his footballing heroes to wear the same Lilywhite shirt he did all those years ago.

Tottoh's Factfile
DOB: 26/07/56
POB: Manchester
Position: Striker
Other Clubs: Morecambe, Accrington Stanley, Kendal Town

“Preston was the team I followed and saw every week," continued Tottoh.

"My hero was Ricky Heppolette but later on there were players like John Blackley, Mick Baxter, Alex Bruce, and many more who I really got close to at the club and really appreciated.

“It was a great honour wearing the Preston shirt. Playing for the reserves is an honour in itself as a part-time player, but then to have the opportunity to run out for the first team was exceptional.”

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