Traditionally the least popular time of year to have a home game, attending a game on the last Saturday before Christmas has been known to cause friction in many a household!
Mind you, it could be worse as we have played 11 games on Christmas Eve in the past, so maybe Sky were trying to reintroduce a football tradition this year when they suggested doing the same. In case fans think that not being considered by the authorities is a recent phenomenon, North End players, officials and maybe even fans found themselves trying to get back home from Newcastle (1955) and even worse Southampton (1933) in time for Christmas Day.
Without wishing to tempt fate, we have an excellent home record against Forest since their first visit here in September 1892. We won that first game 1-0 thanks to a Moses Sanders goal and we have since taken full points from 25 of the 45 games here, with ten finishing all square and ten going in favour of our guests.
Highlights include a 6-0 win in 1896, a 5-0 victory in 1928 and a 4-0 scoreline in 1933. On the debit side, Forest are one of only three clubs to record a 5-3 win here, which they achieved in 1959. Since returning to the Championship three seasons ago, we have won once and drawn once.
Names on both clubs’ rolls of honour include Sean Haslegrave, Steve Elliott, Nigel Jemson, Brian O’Neil and Brett Ormerod, whilst Greg Cunningham spent a season on loan at the City Ground on loan from Manchester City. Archie and Scott Gemmill are part of a very unique group of fathers and sons to have both played for more than one club.
On This Date
One of our greatest ever goalscorers celebrates his 65th birthday on Saturday, so many happy returns to Alexander Robert Bruce.
Alex was born in Dundee in 1952 and signed professional forms for North End in May 1970 after serving his time as an apprentice with the club. His debut came on the last day of the 1971/72 season in a home game versus Swindon Town and he established himself as a regular goalscorer over the next season and a half, with 22 goals in only 65 appearances.
Newcastle lured him away for an unhappy spell in the north east before he returned home to Deepdale in August 1975.
Over the next eight years, Alex was to cement his place in our history and the fans abiding affections, helped by another 149 goals in 338 appearances. His three year partnership with Mike Elwiss was particularly successful, as they plundered 125 goals between them between 1975 and Mike’s departure to Crystal Palace in the summer of 1978.
Alex left for Wigan in 1983 after Gordon Lee took over as North End manager and it was a bitter occasion for all there when he returned to Deepdale three months later to score against his former employers in a 3-2 win for his new employers. After retiring the following year, Alex worked for the leisure services department of South Ribble Borough Council for many years.
Ken Knighton joined us from Oldham in December 1967 and made his debut 50 years ago this weekend. A skilful midfield player, Ken made his first appearance for North End in a 4-1 home win over Charlton Athletic. His first goal came in a 4-1 victory over Birmingham City the following season and in his second full term he scored seven times in all.
He started his career with Wolves before moving to Boundary Park and he spent 18 months at Deepdale before financial pressures saw him reluctantly sold to our neighbours in Blackburn. He later faced North End in the colours of Hull City before retiring in 1976 after a spell with Sheffield Wednesday.
Left back Dominic Ludden played the last of his 42 games for the Lilywhites on this date in 2000. Signed from Watford in 1998, Dominic made 37 appearances as we lost out in the Play-Offs that season but only played three times for our championship winning side the following season and after two substitute cameos in 2000/01, he moved to Halifax Town.
We have only lost two of the 11 home league games played on this date in previous years. This is the first time we have been at Deepdale on this date since a single goal from David Nugent secured a 1-0 win over Colchester United and took us to second place in the Championship table.
Our biggest win on this date was the game mentioned earlier in which Ken Knighton made this debut, whilst the highest scoring game was the 3-3 draw with Bristol City in 1972.
Last Five Games At Deepdale
Preston North End 1 (McGeady) Nottingham Forest 1 (Assombalonga), 1st April 2017
Preston North End 1 (Doyle) Nottingham Forest 0, 3rd November 2015
Preston North End 0 Nottingham Forest 2 (Mackie, Henderson), 5th February 2014
Preston North End 1 (Carter) Nottingham Forest 2 (Anderson, Chambers), 8th January 2011
Preston North End 1 (Parkin) Nottingham Forest 2 (McGugan, 2), 14th September 2010