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First Team News

James Leo Gornall

23 June 2020

It is with deep regret and personal sadness to report the peaceful passing away of Leo Gornall on Monday morning, 22nd June, after a period of illness.

Goosnargh-born Leo was known and fondly loved by many people in the area through his business connections and his affinity to Preston North End. Leo played at Deepdale for North End’s Central League team in the 1950’s, having been spotted playing for Barton in the local Summer League by North End scout, Jim Metcalf.

Not being able to break into the first eleven, bar for Lancashire Cup games when they received ‘first-team wages’, Leo went off to join Netherfield. Apparently he was given the use of a car as long as he agreed to pick up other players along the way to Kendal!

After Netherfield he assisted Lancaster City where he played alongside the likes of Eric Jones and Stan Mortensen before giving his services to Horwich RMI who had ex-North Enders Ken Horton and Joe Walton as the management team.

A spell with Great Harwood followed where he even got himself roped in as their sponge man on occasions. By now his appearances were becoming less frequent so he went off to assist Les Dagger at Leyland Motors. Even then he was not finished with football as he managed Longridge Town, Garstang and was player/manager of Preston North End Supporters Club in the local Sunday League.

He became a great committee man for the PNE Former Players’ Association, having a spell as vice-chairman, giving more than his fair share to the cause of raising the Association’s awareness. Many people knew of him through the story on Granada TV when his allotment was featured where many ex-North Enders visited on a Friday morning for a bacon or sausage butty. Any ex-player visiting for the first time was asked to sign the treasured board in the ‘Tommy Thompson Suite’.

Leo, aged 82, will be sadly missed and our condolences go out to his family and friends especially during this Covid-19 period. It must be stated that Leo did not suffer from this dreaded virus.

Ian Rigby

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