Preston North End’s fans’ voted player of the decade Paul Gallagher certainly has a foot in both camps this Friday, although he certainly sees Deepdale as his ‘home’.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of live Sky Sports game at Ewood Park on Friday evening, Gally explained that despite spending over a decade with Blackburn Rovers in his formative years, his fledgling football career actually started with the Lilywhites!
“I was fortunate enough to play in the Premier League with Blackburn,” said the North End No.12. “I played with some great players; David Dunne, Tugay, Roque Santa Cruz, to name a few.
“I was very lucky to play in the same team as them, being given my opportunity as a young 18-year-old. I made my debut against Arsenal, that we won 2-0 at home and have good memories of Blackburn. I probably should have played more games than I did.
“What you may not know, is that I signed for Preston first when I was nine-years-old; I was at Preston before Blackburn, but my mum and dad couldn’t drive, so I ended up signing for Blackburn and I kicked on from there and I stayed there from ten-years-old until I signed for Leicester at 24. I had some good times.
“A lot of people don’t know that. I played one game, scored a hat-trick and signed a one-year deal at Preston, but I couldn’t get here, so I had a trial at Blackburn and what I had to do was go and play Sunday League football, as I couldn’t play for Blackburn, as I was signed to Preston for a year.”
Going into the latest encounter with Rovers this Friday, the 100th league meeting of two Football League founder members, the 36-year-old was asked whether he tries to take the emotion out of these games or embrace it?
“A bit of both really,” he explained. “Because of how long I was there, I have a lot of friends who are Blackburn fans. I remember when we went there and we drew 2-2, I got a lot of stick off my friends saying ‘you have sent us down’, and I have said this before, but, there was 45 other games before I set up Clarkey to set up McGeady to score the equaliser.
“I get a bit of stick for that, but I always says that I came here and played a lot of games for this football club and this feels like home to me, even though I came through as a young Blackburn player, growing up there, when you come to a club and spend as much time as I have here and play as many games as I have for Preston, gaining respect from your fellow players and the fans, this is what I call home.”
Going into the derby game, the squad has a lot of new faces in it, so will Gally be taking the opportunity to explain to the new boys what these games mean to the supporters?
“All the results prior to this go out of the window. This is the next game, a local derby and what you have to remember is that we lost the last one 3-0 at home. That hurt me and I wasn’t involved that game, but this is my home and it means that much to me and I am sure the likes of Greg [Cunningham] and Al [Browne] know how much it means to the supporters.
“A lot of people live in the same area and bragging rights are so important in local derbies, but most importantly is getting that bad taste out of your mouth from losing 3-0. I understand we got a man sent off, which made it difficult on the night, but since I have been here we have had much more positive results against them, than negative.
“We have to forget what had happened before, play with some passion and heart, but be cool as well, show some discipline and then try and win the game,” he added.
Gally also talks about his managers at Blackburn, including Graeme Souness, Mark Hughes and Sam Allardyce; the strikers he played with at Ewood, his role in the current PNE dressing room as a senior player and what it will be like playing without the usual 7,000-plus North End fans packed in the Darwen End. Just click on the video at the top of the page to watch the extended interview.
With the game live on Sky Sports, it is not available in the UK and Ireland on iFollow PNE. An audio pass is available in those regions and in certain overseas territories, you can still purchase an iFollow PNE match pass, with Jonathan Breeze and Paul McKenna on commentary duty from 7.15pm. To sign up for an audio pass, or to check if the live video pass is available in your country, click here now.