Ahead of the weekend’s clash with the promotion-chasing Bees, we caught up with former Brentford and North End player John Mousinho, now playing at Oxford United.
The 35-year-old, who now plays as a centre half, has been out injured since December, but took time out to speak to iFollow PNE and reflected on his time at both clubs, as well as on the role of former U’s team-mate Ryan Ledson – who he still regularly speaks to.
John was signed by Graham Westley in the summer of 2012 and went on to make 26 appearances for the Lilywhites, many of them as captain under the former PNE boss, but he started his professional career at Griffin Park and he still keeps a very close eye on both results.
“The first results you check are always your former clubs,” said the Oxford man. “Brentford have been very close to the Premier League over the past couple of seasons and I watched them very closely, especially last season when they were in the Play-Offs.
“And Preston, I keep my eye on them as a former club, but there are also still a few players from my time, Paul Huntington, Alan Browne and Paul Gallagher, plus one of my really good friends from Oxford, Ryan Ledson, has come over and one well, so I still have a lot of interest in the club.
“Times have really changed at Brentford, but I still keep my eyes on the results.”
One of the biggest changes for the Bees has been the move to a new ground, something John admits must have been hard for everyone at the club to do when no fans can be there to experience it.
“I do know a few Brentford fans who have been disappointed by it and that will be the same up and down the country,” he continued.
“People have been their respective home grounds year after year, never missing a match, sitting in the same seat and then this season it has been disappointing for him and Brentford no doubt feel sorry for people who drive in on the A4 everyday and see the magnificent stadium and they haven’t been able to get there.
“We were lucky enough to play there in pre-season and it was a really brilliant place, one of these modern stadiums that has been put together really well and I think it will be brilliant when fans get to go back in and see what the club is about now.”
Looking back to those he knows still in and around the North End squad, he was very pleased with what happened in the January transfer window, with the amazing story of a move to the Premier League champions for one former team-mate.
“One of the best things we saw in the January transfer window was what happened to Ben [Davies], going to Liverpool.
“He was always a great talent, but was a scrawny 17-year-old making his way in the game when I was at the club. I think I have played against him since and he has done brilliantly well and progressed fantastically.
“All the lads have done well – Alan Browne when he first came in, if you had said he was going to go on and make 300 appearances for the club and captain Preston North End, it is an incredible achievement and really nice to see, because it means my connection to the club is still there where players are still playing back from 2013.”
On Monday Ryan Ledson took the captain’s armband from the off for the first time and this was something else that Mousinho admits he saw coming some time ago: “You definitely would have earmarked him as one for the future, in terms of captaincy, when we were playing together at Oxford.
“He was a bit of a throwback; you wouldn’t have expected he was so young. He was a combative midfielder with a voice and very influential in the dressing room.
“I got on really well with him and I thought he would go on and do bigger and better things.
“I still speak to him on a daily basis and he has told me all about the new training ground, which is a fantastic transformation from Springfields – although we never felt we were hard done by there – and I love seeing his progression.”
Reflecting on his time at Deepdale, the former Burton Albion skipper says there are a few things he would like to have been different, but he has a lot of very positive memories of his time in PR1.
“If you rewind and ask me ‘would you have liked things to have gone differently?’ then of course, the answer in ‘yes’.
“Looking back to 2012, the sole ambition was to get the club promoted into the Championship and beyond, but things didn’t quite work out and we struggled in that first season for a number of reasons. That was a shame and a shame for myself.
“It was the first time that I had come up and played at a club that was set up to play in the Premier League, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of support and in terms of history.
“That was the aim and it wasn’t for a lack of trying – we had a good go and made plenty of mistakes, but hopefully some of the foundations were put in place for what went beyond us.
“I have spoken quite a few times about my time at Preston and it was an unbelievable learning curve for me. I took the armband at 26 and when I had it at Burton a couple of years later, I was a very different person and I had learnt a lot from my time at Preston.
“I have a lot of good memories as well and I have been back for a game and I really enjoyed it. I got a relatively positive reception – my relationship with the fans was up and down, but it was great.
“I loved playing there, I would have loved to have had better results and been a part of that promotion to the Championship, but it was a huge and significant part of my career,” he added.
This weekend we will again have full and exclusive coverage of the game live on iFollow PNE, with former PNE centre half Michael Jackson alongside Jonathan Breeze bringing you all the action from 2.30pm. Click here now to purchase an iFollow PNE match pass.