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Countdown To 5,000: The 1000th Win

6 April 2020


Countdown To 5,000: The 1000th Win

6 April 2020

We began our Football League career in 1888, so when do you think we registered our 1,000th win?

We began our Football League career in 1888, so when do you think we registered our 1,000th win? 

It actually took Preston North End until October 12th 1963 to record that milestone, a small matter of 75 years.

The visitors to Deepdale were Swindon Town, and they came here as the current division two leaders at the time. A bumper crowd of 21,263 came to the ground and most of them left delighted at North End’s narrow, but decisive 1-0 win.

It was our very first league meeting with Swindon and although the game was a disappointing one, the main thing was to find the way to win the match. The Lilywhites’ team line-up had a familiar ring about it, with it reading: Kelly, Ross Smith; Lawton, Singleton, Davidson; Wilson, Ashworth, Dawson, Spavin, Holden.

Older readers will know what I mean when I say you remember the tune of the 2-3-5 formation! 

That was pretty much the side throughout that season, and eventually they brought the club so close to a return to the top flight again.

The winning goal in this match came in the 25th minute, scored by Dougie Holden. Brian Godfrey once told me that Dougie could remember every detail of all the goals he scored for years afterwards!

This particular one was helped in off the back of Alex Dawson. It is a wonder he didn’t try and claim it. The Black Prince deserved a goal for all his efforts too, in a game that was dominated by two very strong defences.

Despite that, PNE had a number of chances to make the scoreline more convincing, only for Swindon’s man of the match, Mike Turner, to make a number of fine saves in goal for the visitors. Three times he stopped the home side’s ace centre forward, with last-ditch saves.

What the present-day side wouldn’t give for a regular crowd like this one against Swindon, it was the best crowd of that season so far. Of course, not only did we go close to promotion, (only two up in those days, and we finished third), but also we reached the FA Cup Final, losing so narrowly to West Ham United at Wembley.

The only change to the line-up for Preston North End was Howard Kendall, a 17-year-old, for Davidson. How ironic that both Swindon and West Ham would feature heavily against North End in later Football League Play-Off matches.


Another notable milestone was reached, about a month after that game against Swindon, when one of those players scored PNE’s 4,000th League goal.

It came in the home draw with Rotherham United on November 23rd 1963 in a 2-2 draw. The scorer of the goal was the other Alec in the side at the time, Alec Ashworth.

North End trailed 1-0 at half-time, but Ashworth bundled home a scrappy equaliser following a free-kick. The Millers scored again, but Alex Dawson rescued the point with a fine header. Ashworth was a wholehearted inside forward who perfectly complimented Dawson. Signed from Northampton, the former Everton junior was a proven goalscorer who blended well into the team.

Goals Galore

How many wonder goals have Preston North End scored in their league history? Well, you could probably fill a book with the special goal descriptions, just with Tom Finney goals alone!

Here is one the maestro scored against Birmingham City in February 1958, when we beat them here 8-0.

The goal is described by Post reporter Walter Pilkington: “Finney’s second was a glorious solo goal of the Finney-vintage brand. His determination to break through and score was unmistakable.

“He waltzed past one opponent, drew and beat another, and then steadied himself after a 20-yard dribble to shoot with power and deliberation. Picking his spot, he left goalkeeper Gil Merrick helpless with a rising left-foot drive.”

They don’t make them like that anymore.

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