Trailblazing Preston footballers honoured at last

They paved the way for women’s football, but over the years have received little recognition or support – not least from the FA, who banned them from pitches, saying that the game was “quite unsuitable for females”.

But 100 years since they were formed, the Dick, Kerr Ladies FC are finally being honoured with a blue plaque.

Formed as a morale-boosting exercise during the First World War, the team became hugely popular, drawing a crowd of 53,000 when they played St Helen’s at Everton’s Goodison Park in 1920.

But their success attracted detractors, and in 1921 the Football Association banned women’s football from being played in FA grounds.

The ban lasted until 1971 and changed the face of women’s football forever.

But on Thursday, the ladies finally achieved the recognition they deserved with a blue plaque – used to mark historic achievements – erected at the Alstom Factory on Strand Road, where the team was formed.

David Taylor, pro-chancellor and chairman of the board at the University of Central Lancashire, which helped organise the plaque, said: “The Dick, Kerr Ladies story is a key part of Preston’s sporting heritage. In our role as a civic university, we are delighted to work alongside Gail and the many other hard working volunteers to highlight and commemorate the amazing achievements of these pioneering women.

“The Dick, Kerr Ladies all came from very traditional working class backgrounds and became the most successful women’s football team in history. For the people who live, work and study in our city, their success is something we should warmly celebrate.

“We have already given our backing to establishing a bronze relief in Preston to further celebrate these amazing sporting trailblazers and look forward to working with Gail on several other events planned this year to mark the Dick, Kerr Ladies centenary year.”

Gail Newsham, author of In a League of Their Own: A History of Dick, Kerr Ladies FC, said: “I have been championing the Dick, Kerr Ladies for 25 years. No other town or city in the world can boast the proud history of this pioneering team. I have always believed in them and been in awe of their success.

“They certainly deserve this long overdue honour. This blue plaque is the first in the world for the best in the world.

“Words cannot express how thrilled I am for them today.”

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New PNE training ground reflects club’s Premier League ambitions

It is a training complex fit for the Premier League.

And here for the first time is how Preston North End’s new state- of-the-art facility at Ingol Village Golf Club will look both inside and out.

The striking images illustrate the club’s ambition to return to the top flight of English football after more than half a century in the lower divisions.

Bosses say the new training centre is “imperative” if North End are to fulfil their dream of playing in the big league and competing with the best.

A full application has now gone into the city council for approval, along with plans for up to 450 homes and a large public park – the first to be donated to Preston in more than 100 years.

At the same time, the club has asked Town Hall officials if it needs special approval to flatten the current office block adjacent to the stadium in Sir Tom Finney Way and replace it with extra car parking spaces.

A club spokesman told the Post: “Preston North End Football Club has made tremendous progress over the last few years in both restoring our Championship status and sorting out the financial stability of the club.

“As we push forward in our aim of becoming a Premier League club – a status that would bring substantial financial rewards to the city as a whole – it is imperative that our training facilities are of a standard and quality to enable us to attract and retain the right football talent.

proposed new training ground facility

“The current planning application for a mixed development, including a new training HQ, is fundamental to our ability to achieve our ambitions.

“Once the application is successful and the training HQ built, which we hope will be completed in time for the 2018/19 season, the current administrative building at Deepdale will be demolished to provide additional car parking, which will then allow key personnel to relocate to the new training centre at Ingol.”

According to a planning statement by architects the Frank Whittle Partnership, the proposed development aims to provide PNE with a “high-quality, purpose-built first team training facility in line with the club’s aspirations of playing in a higher tier of English football.”

It says the scheme “will enable the club to continue to evolve the training of its team and encourage growth by providing the needed training space required to attract high-calibre football players.”

Because of the rural nature of the site, the design is intended to “respect and enhance the setting.” The main building will have a curved wildflower green roof to blend in with the landscape.

PNE manager Simon Grayson said when the plans were first unveiled: “It speaks volumes for the club that we’re trying to keep on moving forward year in, year out.

“We’ve got some good facilities at Springfields but trying to get even more modern ones can only help.

“Your facilities at this level have to be very good because the players are here for 10 months of the season and it can only help attract new players as well so hopefully we’ll get the go-ahead to do it and we can get in there very quickly.

“It’s really pleasing we’re moving forward as a club and hopefully this can develop.”

The training complex will occupy 25-acres of a 172-acre site.

The rest of the land will form a new public park – twice the size of Avenham Park and the first to be gifted to the city in more than 100 years – in addition to the new housing development.

Under government guidelines, the city council will only be able to give planning permission if it can be demonstrated the golf course is surplus to requirements in the Preston area where there are 14 other courses within a 20-minute drive.

A Golf Needs Assessment study, which forms part of the application, has concluded that the club, which has suffered a 34 per cent drop in membership in the past two years, is not needed.

Artist's impression of PNE's new training complex

New training centre

Preston is planning on splashing out millions to give Simon Grayson and his senior squad the very best facilities to prepare for an assault on the Premier League.

The plans submitted to the council show the complex will have everything the players need on one site, together with accommodation for some of the club’s admin staff.

The development includes a full-size grass training pitch, a floodlit full-size hybrid pitch, two slightly smaller grass pitches and two five-a-side pitches. It also has a 61-metre by 43-metre indoor artificial grass pitch.

There will be a one kilometre trim trail and cycle track and a gymnasium with adjacent treatment room and physiotherapy office.

The changing room will have interconnected showers and toilets, with a treatment ice bath and jacuzzi. There will be additional changing rooms for visitors, officials and coaches.

The complex will have a dining and relaxation room, match analysis/team meeting room, manager’s and assistant manager’s office, a coaches and analytical staff office and a boot room, laundry room, kit room and equipment store.

The scheme also provides a home for most of the club’s admin team, with an open plan office, four private offices, a meeting room and kitchen, staff room and archive, storage and print rooms.

There will be space for 40 cars, room for 10 cycles and a site maintenance building and yard. The whole complex will be surrounded by a 2.4-metre high fence and access will be via a security gatehouse.

Office block demolition

PNE admin staff are to lose their office base next door to the Deepdale Stadium if plans for demolition are approved.

The club intends to relocate most of its staff into purpose-built accommodation at the new training complex in Ingol and bulldoze the old office block to make way for extra car parking spaces.

The staff have worked from the existing single-storey building on Sir Tom Finney Way since the club took over the former snooker club and Legends nightclub around 15 years ago.

At one time the building housed the Preston North End Supporters Club and also a snooker hall.

More recently the premises were shared by the club’s admin offices and the PNE shop which moved into the main stadium building last July.

Demolition is planned after the completion of the new training centre.

Staff will be relocated to Ingol, with a small number of the workforce being accommodated in the Deepdale Stadium itself.

Springfields training ground

North End’s current training ground at Lea will continue to be used by the club after the first team have moved out to Ingol.

The club’s youth academy will remain at Springfields in Dodney Drive.

A statement to the planning committee says the need to move the senior squad to the purpose-built facility at the golf club is because the Lea site is unable to be brought up to the level required.

“The need to relocate from Springfields Sports Ground is due to space constraints at the current facility and what is needed to be delivered in order to provide a training facility of the highest standard,” says the report.

“Springfields is tightly constrained by Savick Brook to the north and residential dwellings to the south. The land itself is within Flood Zone 3 which places a constraint on future development. The neighbouring land has been considered, but is not readily available and is also constrained by similar flood risks.”

Ingol village golf club

The 25-acre training centre will occupy land currently used for holes 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the golf course.

PNE owner Trevor Hemmings bought the club in 1985, but in recent years it has struggled to attract members and closed in 2010.

The plans have proved controversial with locals.

The Ingol Golf Residents Association held a public meeting on February 23 at Preston Grasshoppers

Nearly 200 people from the surrounding areas in Ingol and Fulwood voiced their anger against the latest proposals. A raft of objections has already been submitted to Preston City Council.

Chairman of IGVRA Bruce Ellison said the group were angry with the plans to build 450 homes on the current Ingol Golf Club to help fund the training facility and labelled the move as ‘underhand.’

He said: “I’m exceedingly disappointed following two planning enquiries and refusal of the plans to see a third one put in.

“These latest plans go against everything the National Policy Framework, the Central Lancashire Strategy and Preston City Council’s own local plan.

“The people who buy these ‘proposed’ homes will be paying for a training facility they will have no access to.”

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PNE focus on the kids

Preston’s youngsters will take centre stage at Deepdale on Monday night when they bid to reach the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup.

The PNE academy host Stoke (7pm) and admission is free in a bid to attract as big a crowd as possible.

It is the first time in 50 years that North End have reached the quarter-finals and awaiting

the winners in the last four are Manchester City, who beat Aston Villa on Wednesday night. Nick Harrison’s side have won three home games to get this far, beating Sheffield United, Everton and AFC Wimbledon.

A penalty from skipper Melle Meulensteen got them past the Blades, with Preston beating Everton on penalties after a goalless draw.

Their 3-2 extra-time win over AFC Wimbledon was a thriller, goals from Josh Earl, Meulensteen and Alex Wood sending them through.

Academy boss Harrison said: “The lads have shown what they are capable of and have grown in confidence over the three games.

“They have worked very hard, stayed together, played some good football and done the right things at the right times.

“In two of the games they have dug deep in extra time and the work ethic was there for all to see.

“Against AFC Wimbledon they fell behind in extra time but showed the character to equalise and get the
winner.

“We’ve got a good mix of lads, more first years than
second years, which stands us in good stead for the future.”

Opponents Stoke battled back from being 2-0 down against Brighton in the last round to draw 2-2 and go through on penalties.

Harrison said: “We have watched them two or three times and know what they are capable of.

“Stoke are a strong team with some very good players and that will always be the case when you get down to the quarter-finals.

“I’m looking forward to the game and it is a great achievement for the lads to have got this far.

“They have put the work in and if they play with the right intensity on Monday, they will have every chance.
“We’ve got this far under the radar a bit, now we are getting more coverage.

“This is the first time for 50 years that the club have reached this round and we won’t want it to stop now.”
Preston manager Simon Grayson has watched the youth team’s progress with keen interest.

“It is fantastic for them to be in the last eight. I’ve been to all the games and they have knocked out some big teams,” said Grayson.

“Both Sheffield United and Everton have strong academies – Everton are a category one team.

“Wimbledon were strong and powerful in the previous round.

“The lads have experienced different things, taking the lead and falling behind before coming back to win, holding their nerve in a shoot-out.

“Hopefully they can get to the semi-final.

“If they do that it will be fantastic for the kids, Nick Harrison and Andy Fensome, who have represented the club really well.

“We have the lads down training with us quite a bit.

“On Wednesday morning there were three lads with the first-team squad. On Tuesday there were three different ones here.

“I’m not frightened of adding them into the squad, there are some decent kids coming through.”

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Ben Pearson exclusive column

Iam all too aware that I am edging ever closer to a trip down to London to discuss my on-field disciplinary record.

The caution I received on Tuesday night against Birmingham City was my 12th of the season.

I have already served two suspensions this season – a one-game ban for picking up five bookings and then I missed two games last month after I was shown my 10th yellow card in the FA Cup game against Arsenal.

The latest indiscretion means I am now just three cautions away from a three-game ban and a probable fine from the FA.

I think with my combative style of play, picking up yellow cards is an occupational hazard but I know there are certain elements of my game I could improve upon.

I can cut out the ones that I pick up for dissent and that would probably mean five or six bookings less per season.

So that is something that I am looking to work on, but it is all a learning curve for me.

I am 22-years-old – still quite young – and I do get frustrated at times with other players and the referee during games.

But with experience, I think that area of my game will sort itself out.

I don’t get too much stick off the rest of the lads about my disciplinary record.

There’s a bit of banter flying around about me and Greg Cunningham having a competition, because he’s gone over the 10-bookings mark too.

I am just going to keep going over the rest of the season, play my normal game and not worry too much about getting booked.

If the three-game suspension comes, it comes. I will certainly not be in the business of avoiding any 50/50 challenges this weekend when we travel to face Wigan Athletic for a big derby encounter.

These are the types of games that suit my style – lots of energy and there will probably be a few tackles flying in.

Let’s hope I manage to stay out of the referee’s notebook.

I believe there will be almost 5,000 fans in the away end at the DW Stadium, which should create a terrific atmosphere.

We have been particularly good at beating our local rivals over the past couple of seasons. I think we collected maximum points from the away derbies last season and this year we have beaten both Wigan and Blackburn at home already.

With a trip to Ewood Park to come next month as well, it will be nice to keep the winning record over our neighbours intact.

The Latics won their last game, so will have confidence and they are fighting to get out of the Championship relegation zone.

I think the pressure will be on them a bit more than it will be on us, so that could help us get the right result.

It is an exciting game and one we are all looking forward.

Hopefully we can put a performance in for the fans and continue our recent good form.

The past week have been really good for us – picking up two wins at Deepdale against Brentford on Saturday and Birmingham City on Tuesday night.

I would say they were two of our best performances of the season – certainly in the second half against Brentford and the first half against Birmingham.

I think the only disappointing thing about the game on Tuesday night was the fact that we did not score more than the two goals.

The gaffer said after the game that we should have been out of sight at half-time with the amount of clear chances we created.

That has been a curse of ours I think this season. We do seem to miss a few chances and the scoreline really should have been three or four nil.

As it was, instead of having the game done and dusted at half-time, we only had the one goal through Callum Robinson and it still meant we had a lot to do in the second half.

And sure enough, we were hit by a sucker-punch straight after half-time when City forward Che Adams
volleyed an half-chance into the bottom corner.

It was a bit of a blow especially as up until then we had been so dominant. But we kept going and managed to get the winner through
Jordan Hugill.

I think what has been surprising this week is that despite picking up maximum points, we haven’t gained any ground on the teams in the play-off places.

That is the Championship for you, but we’ve just got to concentrate on keeping our performance levels high and see if we can sneak into a play-off spot.

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It\’s back to back wins for North End who claim another three points at Deepdale!

Goals from Callum Robinson and Jordan Hugill made it back to back home wins for the Lilywhites on the anniversary of Sir Tom Finney’s passing.

Aiden McGeady, like the previous weekend was chief tormentor again for the opener, crossing from the left for Robinson to power a header in at the front post, but Che Adam’s excellent half volley 90 seconds after the interval levelled matters.

However, a powerful run from Daryl Horgan with 12 minutes to go saw the Irishman power into the box, drilling the ball across the six yard box for Hugill to convert from close range to make it six points from six in four days.

Before the early opener Tomasz Kuszczak in the visitors goal, who was head and shoulders above anyone else as the Blues man of the match on the night, started his one man crusade to keep out the Lilywhites, who started as rampantly as they finished against Brentford.

It took a brilliant save by the City No.29 to keep it goalless on six minutes, after Ben Pearson robbed Jonathan Grounds and was in on goal; he pulled it back for Hugill on the penalty spot, who hit a vicious shot, but it was superbly saved by the former Manchester United stopper.

However, the custodian could do nothing to prevent the opener two minutes later as Robinson grabbed his ninth goal of the season with a header from McGeady’s cross from the left in the seventh minute as fans applauded the life of Sir Tom Finney, who died on the same date three years previous.

For the next 30 minutes it was all North End, but they could not get that second goal. Firstly Hugill saw a header go wide of right hand post from Robinson’s cross from the left.

Then McGeady again from the left this time found Hugill five yards out and the No.25 should have made it double figures for the season, but his effort was goes over the bar from close range.

Just before the half jour mark Kuszczak again made a superb save to tip the ball around the post, this time from Horgan from 20 yards – the stopper saw it late, but it was a wonderful stop with his fingertips from the Irishman’s curling effort.

Just before the interval the goalkeeper made yet another fine save, this time one-handed to deny Greg Cunningham on the overlap with a thunderbolt of the right boot from Aiden McGeady’s lay off.

And just after the break PNE were made to pay for not taking any of their first half opportunities to double their advantage when Adams on the half volley from the edge of the ‘D’ fired into the bottom left hand corner after a ricocheting ball.

But after a period of pressure from the visitors North End went back in front with 12 minutes left. Horgan picked up the ball from a throw in on the right, drove into the box, cut the ball across and Hugill drove it and smashed home from close range.

The goal was swiftly followed by a red card for the visitors as skipper Craig Gardner took out Cunningham with an extremely late tackle and was given his second yellow card by referee Tim Robinson.

The pace of substitute Tom Barkhuizen almost brought a third with four minutes left as he drove into the heart of the box and squared for Jordan Hugill, but a last ditch block from Grounds diverted the ball an inch wide of the left hand post with Kuszczak rooted to his six yard line, but this was the last of the action as the Lilywhites took another big win.

PNE line-up: Maxwell, Browning, Cunningham, Pearson, Clarke (c), Huntington, Horgan, Browne, Robinson (Barkhuizen, 63), Hugill (Makienok, 90), McGeady (Johnson, 85). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Beckford, May, Boyle.

Birmingham City line-up: Kusczczak, Nsue, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson (Sinclair, 89), Gardner (c), Adams, Jutkiewicz, Frei (Dacres-Cogley, 46), Bielik, Keita (Stewart, 83). Subs not used: Legzdins, Robinson, Tesche, O’Keefe.

Attendance: 10,233 (614 Birmingham City fans)

Referee: Mr T Robinson

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Match report: PNE 4 Brentford 2

Preston North End scored four goals in a game for the first time this season as they finally got the better of bogey team Brentford.

After six straight defeats against the Bees, including a 5-0 drubbing at Griffin Park in September, North End set the record straight.

They had to come from behind though, the visitors taking a 12th minute lead through Tom Field.

The outstanding Aiden McGeady brought North End level within six minutes with a low finish from 25 yards.

Simon Grayson’s men then turned on the style for a spell in the second half, Callum Robinson touching home a McGeady cross to put them in front,

McGeady curled home a delightful finish for the third goal with Daryl Horgan netting the fourth soon after, that his first goal in a Preston shirt since moving from Dundalk last month.

Brentford cut the deficit with a late deflected Maxime Colin goal but it didn’t stop North End taking the three points – this the first time this campaign they have come back from a losing position to win.

Simon Grayson had made two changes to the side which drew at Barnsley, Horgan and Robinson returning to the side in place of Simon Makienok and the injured Paul Gallagher.

Brentford made the brighter start, Colin’s shot from the edge of the box in the fifth minute pushed behind by Chris Maxwell.

Greg Cunningham got behind the visitors’ back line when a Robinson shot was deflected into his path but the left-back pulled his effort across goal and out beyond the far post.

The Bees took a 12th minute lead, Field left unmarked in the box to meet Jota’s corner from the right and bullet a header into the top corner.

McGeady’s cross field pass sent Tyias Browning racing into the box, the right-back taking a touch before blazing a shot over the bar.

North End were only behind for six minutes, McGeady collecting possession in midfield and pushing forward before finding the bottom corner with a powerful shot from 25 yards.

It needed the combined efforts of Andreas Bjellend and keeper David Bentley to prevent Horgan meeting Browning’s pass in the box as Preston looked for a quick second goal.

Robinson tested Bentley with a 20-yard shot which he pushed out, while McGeady was inches too high with a free-kick from the edge of the box, one awarded after Jordan Hugill was felled by Colin.

Brentford mounted some pressure in the last 10 minutes of the first half, Jota shooting wide from distance.

In the 43rd minute, Maxwell saved with his legs from a Bjellend shot, the rebound falling to Jota who fired over the bar.

Sixty seconds later, Ryan Woods’ pass sent Florain Jozefzoon through on goal, Maxwell coming out of his box to saved with his feet.

A minute into the second half, Horgan’s cross found its way through to McGeady, his low shot saved comfortably by Bentley.

North End went in front in the 52nd minute, McGeady checking on to his right foot on the left-foot and curling over a low cross which Robinson flicked past the keeper.

Brentford responded with a shot from skipper Harlee Dean which cleared the bar by inches.

In the 63rd minute, Cunningham cleared off the line after the far post after Field’s low cross had been flicked goalwards by Lasse Vibe.

Tom Barkhuizen joined the action from the bench, replacing Robinson, the move seeing the former Morecambe man play on the left-wing with McGeady moving inside to play off Hugill.

Two goals in two minutes put North End well and truly in control, this the first time they had scored four this season.

McGeady made it 3-1 in the 75th minute with a wonderful finish.

Collecting the ball 25 yards out in a central position, he rode two challenges before curling a delightful shot into the top corner.

The fourth goal came quickly, Horgan racing clear on goal and slotting a low shot past Bentley as he came out.

Hugill almost made it five, his header from McGeady’s cross dropping inches wide.

McGeady departed the action in the 86th minute to a standing ovation, replaced by Stevie May who made his first appearance since tearing three ligaments in his right knee in Novrmber 2015.

Brentford reduced the deficit in the 89th minute, Colin’s shot catching a deflection off Paul Huntington and flying into the roof of the net.

In stoppage-time, May got clear on goal but was denied a comeback goal by Bentley who spread himself to save.

PNE: Maxwell, Browning, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham, Horgan (Johnson 81), Pearson, Browne, McGeady (May 86), Robinson (Barkhuizen 68), Hugill. Subs (not used): Boyle, Makienok, Beckford, Lindegaard.

Brentford: Bentley, Colin, Bjelland, Dean, Field, Woods, McEachran (Sawyers 76), Jozefzoon Canos 56), Yennaris (Kerschbaumer 76), Jota, Vibe. Subs (not used): Egan, Clarke, Barbet, Bonham.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)

Attendance: 10,130 (414 away)

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PNE front man joins Portsmouth on loan

Preston North End striker Eoin Doyle has joined League Two promotion-chasers Portsmouth on loan for the rest of the season.

The 28-year-old had also been wanted by Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City but he chose to link-up with his former Chesterfield and Sligo Rovers manager Paul Cook at Pompey.

Doyle joined North End from Cardiff City in the summer on a permanent deal after spending the majority of last season on loan at Deepdale.

Doyle has found game time hard to come by at Deepdale in recent months with strong competition up front in Simon Grayson’s squad, starting eight matches and coming on as a substitute on seven occasions.

In December against Sheffield Wednesday, he scored his only league goal of the campaign after coming off the bench but was later sent-off for fighting with team-mate Jermaine Beckford.

North End manager Simon Grayson said: “Eoin asked me the question about going on loan, given that he had fallen down the pecking order.

“Others have got ahead of him, Jordan Hugill is just short of 10 goals, Callum Robinson has seven and Simon Makienok six.”

Portsmouth boss Cook said: “Having worked with Eoin previously at two clubs, I am delighted with this signing.

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