It’s a birthday today for three very popular performers at Deepdale and we send our best wishes to them all.
The first is a true modern legend and fan favourite, as Sean Gregan, captain of our 1999/2000 division two championship winning side, turning 46-years-old today.
Signed from Darlington for a bargain £350,000 in November 1996, ‘Greegs’ went on to make over 250 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 14 goals, no better than his effort from the half-way line at Norwich City’s Carrow Road.
The man who arrived as a centre half, became a no-nonsense, tough-tackling midfielder and stalwart of David Moyes’ side, but like the Scot, followed him to the Premier League in the summer of 2002, when West Bromwich Albion paid £1.5m for his services after five and half memorable years in PR1.
The next birthday, is that of Bobby Ham, who is 77 today. Bobby was a renowned lower league striker when he joined our third division promotion push in 1970.
His partnership with Willie Irvine and Gerry Ingram gave us the push we needed to return to the second division at the first attempt before he departed for Rotherham United only a year after joining.
Fifty years after coming to Deepdale he is still remembered with affection by all who saw him. Nowadays he is on the board of FC Halifax Town, as the phoenix club look to return The Shay-based side to the EFL.
The last of the birthdays is Gordon Milne, who successfully negotiated the tricky situation of being a star youth player whilst also having his father Jimmy as his North End manager.
He made his debut aged 19 in 1956 and three years later joined Liverpool as one of Bill Shankly's first signings.
He won second and first division championship medals at Anfield and was chosen 14 times by England. He is 83-years-old today – we hope he and the other players celebrating have a good day.
In terms of action on the field, five years ago, we made our only league visit to date to Highbury for a televised clash with Fleetwood Town. David Ball scored a stunning late equaliser for the home side after Daniel Johnson had given us a ninth minute lead in our promotion winning campaign.
Finally, 23 years ago today, another popular modern hero made his bow for PNE. Two days earlier, Michael Jackson had joined for £125,000 from Bury and he made his first of 288 appearances for the Gary Peters’ side in a 2-0 home win over Notts County in 1997.
Jacko scored 19 goals in his time with the Lilywhites, none more famous than his April 2000 winner over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium, when his acrobatic early strike gave us a 1-0 win and put the club closer to the second division title they would be awarded a few weeks later.