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First Team News

Alan Kelly Talks PNE Vs Sheffield United

16 September 2022

Two clubs which mean an awful lot to Alan Kelly come head to head on Saturday, with his former sides Preston North End and Sheffield United competing for three points at Deepdale.

The former goalkeeper – now coach at Everton – of course started his career with North End, coming through the ranks before making it with the first team.

He then moved on to join the Blades in 1992, going on to spend seven years with the Yorkshire side before rounding off his career with Blackburn Rovers.

While PNE meant that bit more to him due to his family connection with the club, Alan admitted all of the clubs he represented have stuck with him.

He said: “I was thinking about it the other day, I spent around 14 years of my 20-odd-year career playing at Preston North End and Sheffield United.

“First and foremost I’m born and bred in Preston, raised here and born into the club, so that’s always there, but you’ve got to have respect for whoever you represent.

“I think if people know you give your all when you’re playing, and that you work hard and try to do the right thing then I think fans will recognise that and look at that.

“If you give that respect and effort to the clubs you play for, they’re happy to welcome you back, and that’s an ethos I’ve always adhered to.

“When you get that bond with a club, it stays with you for life.”

While Sheffield United will arrive as league leaders, North End go into the game after the midweek draw against Burnley, a match which Alan attended in a media capacity.

Over 20,000 supporters were inside Deepdale that night, and numbers will approach that again on Saturday, with the Blades set to bring a big following themselves.

Speaking of the atmosphere, Alan said: “It's fantastic. It brings me back to 1996/97 when we got promoted, some of the crowds there were brilliant.

“I seem to remember 17,000 against Northampton and we probably averaged around 15,000 in the old Fourth Division.

“When you’re out there as a player, knowing you’ve got a vocal set of home fans behind you, and large groups of away supporters like Sheffield United have, it makes for a fantastic atmosphere.

“As a player, for me, it can only up your performance, and hats off to everyone at the club and to all the fans who embraced the season ticket deal and for generating a real atmosphere with the flags.

“There’s a real feel-good factor when you’re inside Deepdale and it’s fantastic to see.”

Away from football, Alan was recently one of many former PNE players to take part in a charity cricket match, in aid of Rio, the son of ex-North Ender Tommy Spurr.

Rio is battling a rare form of cancer and is having to undergo intense radiotherapy, and the footballing community has come together to raise funds for the family – the cricket match being just one event to have happened over the past few months.

Alan added: “It was a wonderful day, with a wonderful group of people, and also the people who came to watch as well.

“At the end of the day you had Rio walking around. It's unbelievable the bravery he’s shown, and Tommy and Chloe too in terms of what they’re facing.

“The reaction from everyone, whether Preston, Blackburn or Sheffield Wednesday fans. You’re seeing reactions from clubs and sets of fans, and that goes back to the respect people have for Tommy because he always gave 100%.

“Everyone’s totally behind Tommy, Chloe and Rio in terms of the treatment and everything that might happen in the future.

“It’s refreshing in this day and age when fans come together to help one of their own.”


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