Wednesday afternoon’s 5,000th EFL fixture sees the Lilywhites take on Derby County and to celebrate the occasion we have produced a special 100-page edition of The One And Only.
The programme is packed full of stats, features, quotes and includes articles from chairman Craig Hemmings, the owner’s advisor Peter Ridsdale, Alex Neil, Paul Huntington, Alan Browne and Ben Davies.
As well as that, we speak to former Ram David Nugent, who could come up against them on Wednesday night for the first time since he joined the Lilywhites after his spell at Pride Park.
Speaking to The One And Only, to look ahead to the visit of Phillip Cocu’s Derby County and the 5,000th Football League game the Lilywhites have played, Nuge was excited at the mouth-watering prospect.
“It will be quite a night,” he told the matchday programme. “I missed out in the game down at Pride Park; I was about to come on and then Ben Davies picked up an injury and Jordan Storey had to be used as our last substitute, but it will be a special occasion, both for myself and for the club, being the 5,000th game in the Football League, which is a great achievement.
“It will be a tough game. Derby have sneaked up behind us, trying to get into Play-Off positions, like us, and it will be an exciting game to be involved in.
“I had some really good times there. In the first year, under Steve McLaren, we just missed out on the Play-Offs after Gary Rowett came in towards the end of the season. The following season we got beaten in the semis by Fulham and then in the last year under Frank Lampard, we had a great season and got beaten in the Final by Villa, just missing out.
“It was always entertaining; we always had a good end to the season there and we just missed out on the Premier League.
“We have a similar situation here now where we have a chance to get into the Play-Offs to try and make that step up to the Premier League, which we all dearly want at the football club.”
Nuge, of course, played against Derby in the 2005 Play-Offs for North End, something he has fond memories of: “Tom Huddlestone, who is there now, played in that game and I always remind him, but I remember it well,” he continued.
“In the first leg, at home, I scored and they everyone claimed the second, which was a bit of a scramble at the back post where the ’keeper should have saved it.
“The second leg was a stalemate, Rasiak missed a penalty towards the end to put us under pressure, but we got through to the Final, that disappointingly we got beat by West Ham.
“These are the seasons you want to be involved in. You want to be at the top end of the table fighting for promotion, rather than being stuck in mid-table or fighting against relegation and I think we have a great chance with these games coming up to push for the Play-Offs and stay in there.”
And despite today being behind closed doors, the Championship history’s top scorer admitted the motivation is definitely there.
“It is still the same goal; we still want to get into the Play-Offs and ultimately into the Premier League, it is just with no fans.
“That is hard, as you need that roar behind you sometimes when you are in games and you need egging on, but mentally you now have to concentrate so much, because you can easily make a mistake when no-one is there watching and it is up to the players to motivate themselves for the games and get the results that keeps us in the position we are in.”
For more from Nuge, plus quotes from the majority of our Player of the Year winners, pages and pages full of stats from our previous 4,999 games, plus much, much more, don’t forget to order yours now by clicking here.