With the Lilywhites’ trip to Hillsborough this weekend, we caught up with a goalkeeper who represented both clubs with distinction, David Lucas.
The current Fleetwood Town goalkeeping coach came through the ranks with his hometown club at Deepdale, going on to make 150 appearances in ten years before two loans spells and then a permanent move to the Owls, where he would make 80 starts between the sticks.
And this weekend, when the final whistle goes at the Kassam Stadium, where the Cod Army take on Oxford United, he will immediately be checking out how his two former employers have got on, as he explained when he spoke to iFollow from his home in midweek.
“Every week after we have come off the pitch, PNE and Sheffield Wednesday are the first two results I look for,” said the now 43-year-old. “They are clubs that are both very close to my heart. Deepdale is a special place for me.
“I grew up on Skevington Road, which leads onto where the stadium is and as a kid I used to play on the five-a-side courts that are now the Invincibles car park on most evenings. I went to St Gregory’s School, just up the road, like Alan Kelly and Kev Kilbane, so it is embedded in my DNA.
“I joined from school and I was in awe of working day to day with my heroes, people like Ian Bryson, Moyesie, Kelham O’Hanlon. We were in the old fourth division then, but I was still working with these iconic guys, who are people I now play golf with and pals!”
From his debut in the promotion-winning game back in 1996, to his memorable penalty saves in the 2001 Play-Off semi-final against Birmingham City, he saw the club make major strides during his time in PR1, as he recalled.
“The Play-Off game was that squad coming to the end of its cycle, with Moyesie leaving not too long after. It was a good finale for that time. The last game I went to watch as a fan before joining was the Torquay Play-Off game, so it had a similar feeling to that for me.
“If you had told that 16-year-old kid watching that game that he would be involved in a night like it six years later, I wouldn’t have believed it, but a lot of the things I was involved in at Preston were the things dreams were made of.
“I made my debut in the game we won the Championship at Hartlepool [in 1996] and these are things that at the time you probably don’t appreciate as much as when you can sit back now and think ‘that was alright!’.”
David joined the Owls initially on loan in 2003, before a second spell at Hillsborough led to a transfer and he explains that he played at the famous South Yorkshire Stadium twice in a week, once for his parent club and then for Wednesday themselves!
“It was funny how it happened,” he continued. “We were playing at Hillsborough in the reserves on the Monday night against Sheffield Wednesday and after the game they had a bit of goalkeeping crisis.
“Brian Barry-Murphy played in the game and he used to live with me when he was at Preston and he mentioned to them that they were looking to bring a goalkeeper in and would I be interested? Of course I said ‘yes’ and so I played there on the Monday night for Preston and the Wednesday night for Wednesday!
“I went on loan for three months and then signed in the summer. It was a complete rebuilding job by Chris Turner and Colin West – I think there were ten of us who signed, so it took us a while to gel as a team, but we got promoted in the Play-Offs the day before PNE lost to West Ham United at Cardiff.
“It was good recruitment; we had Chris Brunt, Glenn Whelan, John-Paul McGovern, Lee Bullen, really good guys and we managed to get the job done, which was really satisfying.”
So, what of the current teams, when they meet this weekend? “I know Neil Thompson, he was the U23 manager at Leeds when I was there. He’s a really good guy and he seems to have brought a stability and calmness to the club.
“And Lee Bullen, who is assisting him, is one of my good mates, we joined Sheffield Wednesday together and had some great times together.
“Looking from the outside, they seem to be in a bit of a transition period and they are trying to get some belief into the Play-Offs and they have got a few clean sheets and some good results and made them hard to beat.
“PNE I have watched a couple of on iFollow – I can only suffer Paul McKenna’s commentary so much! I watched Watford, which was a tough game and the Bristol City home game which I thought they bossed.
“When I watch them, they have always got after teams; they try to stretch teams with the likes of the pace of Tom Barkhuizen. There has been a bit of a change of guard with some new faces and they have brought a good goalkeeper in. We played against [Daniel] Iversen a few times for Rotherham and his relationship with Polly [Mike Pollitt] is massive and that will be a good link for him to settle in quickly.
“It will be a tough game, but I know Preston have had some good results away from home and on the day they are a real threat on the road.”
There’s loads more from the former PNE No.1 as he talks about his time with both clubs and more in our extended chat – just click on the video at the top of the page to watch the full interview.
Former North End and Wednesday winger, who played in the above game, Chris Sedgwick, will be joining the iFollow commentary team this weekend. He and Jonathan Breeze will be live from Hillsborough from 2.30pm and you can click here now to sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass.