One of the stand-our performers of the season so far has been Joe Rafferty and he is the main interviewee in Monday night’s edition of the matchday programme.
‘Raff’ admits he is pinching himself as this time last year he was battling to stay in League One with Rochdale and now he is looking up towards the Premier League.
Joe, 26, signed for PNE in January and, after playing regularly for Dale over the previous seven years, had to wait for his chance in the North End side.
The defender, has now slotted in at left back and is helping Alex Neil’s side challenge at the top end of the table, ahead of today’s clash with fellow promotion-chasers West Brom.
“Looking back to last year, the Premier League definitely wasn’t on my mind,” said Joe, who won promotion into League One with Rochdale in 2014.
“For the past two or three years I have been near the bottom of League One with Rochdale.
“This time last year, I was thinking of what might be happening at the end of the season, worrying about Rochdale dropping into League Two, if we would get a staying up bonus, if my wages would go down if Rochdale got relegated and things like that.
“That’s why I am just enjoying it. You appreciate winning games a lot more when you have been down there and had to work unbelievably hard just to earn a point. I think you appreciate everything a lot more and take nothing for granted.
“It’s a different type of pressure to stay up there in the Championship, I think it is more pressure when you are down there and fighting to stay up and that’s why you do just have to enjoy the ride.”
PNE manager Neil has been talking about how he signs hungry players, mainly from lower leagues, who haven’t perhaps had a privileged upbringing as some footballers in academies – and, even though Joe started at Liverpool Academy aged nine, he stayed grounded.
“When I was at Liverpool, we were 17 and 18 and some of the players had nice cars. I learnt to drive when I was 18 but I didn’t have a car for a year and I was always happy to get the bus and have a little walk, it was more convenient for me to do that. It was only down the road.
“I have never been a person to get ahead of myself and think I am better than I am.
“It was a culture shock when I went from Liverpool to Rochdale but then we had more than some clubs in League Two so you just got on with it, I was never one to complain about it.
“At first when I was at Rochdale, we took our kit home to wash but after a little bit we ended up paying the kit man, Jack [Northover]. We didn’t have to after a bit, it was good, you just rally around.
“When I first came here, I text the boys at Rochdale and I was buzzing that I could come in and have my breakfast in the morning and finish training and walk straight in and have my dinner, proper cooked food as well and something different every day.
“I was made up with that and they are just little things which help. When I was at Rochdale, if you did a little bit extra after training you might come in and there would be no food left but that was just life and I didn’t mind. Things like the food here though is brilliant.”
There is loads more from Joe in The One And Only, plus interviews and features with Darnell Fisher, John Thomas, Billy Bodin, Sean Gregan and Lee Ashcroft.
This is another packed full 84-pages, on sale from Monday afternoon from the Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office, or from inside and outside the stadium on matchday, still for just £3 per copy.