PNE.Com sat down with goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to look back on North End’s promotion to the Championship.
With the gates to the Championship wide open, PNE tripped over the ‘Mind The Step’, one inch high slab and came crashing to the ground just centimetres from the entrance.
But after putting a quick plaster on its grazed knee, the Club got back to its feet and did anything but stumble through the door in a drunken, dazed and confused state – the Lilywhites kicked the gate off its hinges and stormed through in the most un-Preston fashion of them all – via the Play-Offs.
And not only was the Play-Off exorcism now complete, it was done without the Lilywhites conceding a goal in those Play-Offs.
And the man at the centre of that post-season shutout was Johnstone, the on loan stopper and his defence stubborn, resilient and simply brilliant as first Chesterfield then Swindon Town knocked, knocked and knocked again without finding an opening to PNE’s back door.
And the Manchester United youngster says that this promotion eclipses all previous accolades in his ever flourishing career.
“This promotion is probably top of my career achievements to date,” said Johnstone.
“Playing at Wembley is one memory, but winning there and getting promoted is another – putting the two together has got to be top.
“I have played at different England age groups and stuff but this is really the one that has topped it off.
“It was a great experience to be in the Play-Offs; it’s a memory that you will never forget.
“Obviously three weeks before the final we were a little bit down after the Colchester United defeat. but to do it the way we did it at Wembley; the three games and how we played, the goals we scored, three cleansheets, it was unbelievable.
“I don’t imagine many teams have kept three cleansheets in the Play-Offs so we were obviously happy with that.
“You then look at Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner who have gone and done their job at the other end of the park and it’s a good combination.
“To bounce back after that Colchester game and to keep the cleansheets and score the goals we scored was different class.”
On what was an incredible day at Wembley for every man, women and child associated with Preston North End, it may be fair to say that two players enjoyed it just a smidgen more than most; Preston native Johnstone and boyhood lilywhite Garner.
Although that also made it a slightly more expensive occasion for the stopper.
“I ended up buying 37 tickets for the final!” laughed Johnstone.
“I bought tickets for my family, my girlfriend and her family, and I think I had the most out of all the lads.
“It is memories for all of them as well and I think they all had a good day out and it was of course topped off with a win and a medal.
“I think it means just that little bit more to us local lads because we are still connected to Preston outside of football.
“With your family living here and knowing people, and then you come and play for the Club; to do that [get promoted in the Play-Offs] after not being able to do it for so long, it is a good feeling and I think it makes it a bit more special that it is your home town and with your family there.
“I obviously know other fans that were there who I have come across even before I came to Preston, so it was a great day out for all the fans, families, and I’m sure Garns would have been proud as well with him being a Preston fan, having all his family there and winning.”