Preston North End have only even played one league game on 5th August before and the opponents that day happened to be Sheffield Wednesday!
And it just so happens that our opponents that day were Sheffield Wednesday. The game was 11 years ago, the second earliest we have ever started a league season, and the day there were a number of PNE debutants, one of them being Sean St. Ledger.
Speaking ahead of the opening days clash with the Owls, the former PNE No.12 remembers the day clearly, including coming up against a Republic of Ireland international forward.
“I remember a lot of my debut,” Ledge told PNE.Com. “I remember starting that pre-season and I had just come in from Peterborough and at the time Paul Simpson said he had just signed Liam Chilvers and already had Youl Mawene, so he told me I would be a back up, but then a week before the season started Youl did his cruciate ligament and I that was when I knew I would probably be starting because we had no other back up really and so approaching the Wednesday game I was really nervous.
“Clinton Morrison was playing for them at the time and he was obviously playing for Ireland as well, so it was going to be quite a big test.
“I remember walking out of the tunnel and it was probably more fans than I had ever played in front of before and it was just a great feeling to walk out from the tunnel and to be playing in the Championship in such a big game.
“Sheffield Wednesday always have unbelievable away support, so it made the atmosphere even better, because their fans always come in big voice.
“I think I got man of the match and got a clean sheet and the game went pretty well for me from a personal point of view. I did everything I needed to do and that gave me a bit of confidence that I could play in the Championship and it grew from there. It wasn’t the ideal result, we wanted to win, but to get a clean sheet is not a bad result.”
This Saturday there could be more North End debutants, including summer signing Sean Maguire, but the ex-North End centre half believes his fellow Irishman will cope well with the test.
“Sean Maguire has been playing in big Europa League games recently, so I am sure he’ll be looking forward to it,” he continued. “He has had a great start in the pre-season games, he scored against Burnley and has done very well and I am sure whoever plays, they will look forward to it.
“Sheffield Wednesday will be a tough test. They have come close in the last couple of seasons to getting into the Premier League and their fans are one of the best in the Championship; that’s an experience not just from my time at Preston, but Leicester as well, but these are the games you want to be involved in.
“For the fans it has been a whole summer without football and you can’t wait to get back into the stadium to support your team and it’s the same for the players. The pre-season games are good, but it is all about getting out there and playing your first proper game when the three points are on the table.”
With the growing Irish contingent in PR1, Sean has paid more attention to the club that even before of late and he feels it is a great exposure for them.
“It is great to see so many Irish players there and it is great the club have given a chance to those players who have come over from the League of Ireland to prove themselves in the league and the likes of Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle have come over and are now becoming regulars in the Irish set up and that is because Preston has given them a chance to show case their talents and now there’s a chance for the new lads to do the same thing.
“If Sean Maguire can go and score goals in the Championship then he will certainly be in the Ireland squad, because at the moment if there’s a position that is maybe lacking in the Ireland set up, then it is strikers.
“If you look at all our strikers, Longy [Sean Long] is getting a bit older, Jon Walters is getting older, [Daryl] Murphy is getting older, so we need someone to try and step up and hopefully Sean can do that,” he added.
There are a number of other players who could be making their debut against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, be here to be a part of it, call the ticket office on 0344 856 1966, visiting the ticket office in person or visit www.mypne.com to get your ticket now!