Peter McBride – or ‘Peter the Great’ – was brought down from Ayr at the end of the 19th century and joined the club on 9th December 1896.
He was just one of the many Scotsmen who had been lured to Deepdale throughout North End’s history, but this Scot was a little bit more special.
McBride created football history by becoming PNE’s first ever Scottish international, not that North End had a shortage of players good enough before him. It was just that at the time Scotland refused to pick players that had crossed the border to play in England.
McBride was the successor to North End’s first ever ‘great’ goalkeeper, James Trainer.
As the league grew in numbers, PNE found it increasingly difficult to maintain the glorious standards of the old Invincible team, but McBride was as good as, if not better than, Trainer who was a member of that famous squad.
It was written that: “McBride was the buttress of defence and kept goal with brilliance and mastery, instilling confidence into his defenders.”
He made his league debut against Stoke on 5th March 1898, in a 0-0 draw, and then went on to keep his place for over a decade.
He was a huge man, in stature and in heart, with a great reputation, and a temper to suit as he frequently showed.
At that time, barging the goalkeeper was an accepted part of the game, as was fisting the ball out after shots and crosses.
McBride handled all of that with ease and his large hands saved the day for North End on numerous occasions.
His consistency and fitness resulted in him missing only 37 games in 13 full seasons for the club, and fans in Sheffield nicknamed McBride ‘The Stumper’, as he was as sure-handed as any wicket-keeper.
At the turn of the century McBride was almost persuaded to join Tottenham Hotspur, as several of his team-mates had done previously, but the goalkeeper stayed put much to the delight of the North End fans.
McBride was in a different class to other goalkeepers and he had no real rival coming through in the reserves over the years, although it must be said that he did have a loyal and competent understudy in Herbert Taylor.
At one point McBride was even given the task of taking North End’s penalties, but he never scored so that soon stopped!
As a goalkeeper, though, he was an expert and he was capped six times by Scotland, in an era when they only played three games a season.
His debut was against England in April 1904 and he went on to play three more times against the Auld Enemy, as well as twice against Wales.
For his club McBride was relegated twice, but he also won a second division championship medal in 1903/04.
In his final year in the game (1911/12), he was dropped after the initial six matches, but then was dramatically recalled for the last game of the campaign, but he still couldn’t prevent his team losing against Middlesbrough, which confirmed the club’s relegation.
When he was dropped, he was replaced by Herbert Taylor because his own form was suffering due to his ‘failing eyesight’. His last game for PNE was that game against Boro.
After retiring from football, he eventually took over a public house, like many other footballers did. In McBride’s case, it was the Deepdale Hotel where he was host for many years.
He died in 1951, still settled in Preston, aged 76, and McBride stands among the Preston North End all-time greats, and his appearance record stood for many years, until another international goalkeeper broke it, namely Alan Kelly Senior. McBride kept 139 clean sheets in his time at the club.
PNE Apps and Goals: League 442; FAC 32; Total 474.