Preston's significant role in the development of sports and recreation nationwide...
Preston has a strong sporting history and many claims to fame. Not only did the city see the beginning of famous football teams for both women and men, there are also many brilliant sportspeople to have come from the city.
Deepdale Stadium has been home to Preston North End since January 1875 when the club's members took out a lease on the plot of land. The land, once a farm, previously held rugby matches as well as local encounters, before hosting its first league match in September 1888. This first league match saw PNE beat Burnley 5-2.
Preston North End's continued success attracted more and more spectators to the stadium, with it becoming apparent in 1921 that it couldn't cope with the demands. As a result, the club acquired more land towards the Fulwood end of the ground and built the Spion Kop, with the West Stand extended northwards to culminate in a quarter-circle extension behind the goal line. The pitch was moved three yards north to free up more room in the South Town End and two tunnels were created to run through the Kop to avoid congestion at full time. Thanks to these developments Deepdale Stadium's capacity was raised to a potential 45,000 fans.
Redevelopments and improvements continued after the Town End terrace was partially ruined by fire in 1933. In the 1950s the paddocks were terraced and a roof was added to the stands that were missing one at the time. Two year's work reduced the capacity slightly, however, it catered better for the needs of the spectators.
In 1986 the plastic pitch was installed, with the idea of helping the club financially. This idea didn't catch on amongst the Football League and, in 1994, the plastic pitch was ripped out, a welcome move amongst many supporters.
In 1995 the old West Stand was bulldozed and replaced by the Tom Finney Stand - the stadium's largest seating area. Two years later the 6,000 capacity Bill Shankly Kop was erected behind the goal. The theme of naming the stands after past PNE legends continued, and the former wing half had his face etched into the design of the seats, just as Sir Tom Finney had.
In 2004 Deepdale Stadium welcomed the Sir Tom Finney statue, named "The Splash". The statue was a fitting landmark to honour the club's most famous son, based on an iconic photograph taken of Sir Tom at a flooded Stamford Bridge in 1954.
The demolition of the old Pavilion Stand took place in the summer of 2007, resulting in the new "Invincibles Pavilion" in August 2008. After many new developments and modernisations, Deepdale Stadium currently has a capacity of 23,404.
Preston North End FC
Preston North End first began as a cricket team and can be traced back to as early as 1863. The club used Moor Park as their base and were initially known as North End as in indication of their base being in the northern end of the town.
The first President of the club was George Howarth. Subscriptions to the club were 2d a week, however, the club fell on hard times financially and had to rely on recruiting new members were possible. Despite the financial problems not being resolved, the club still took a leap by taking out a lease on a field in Deepdale on 21 January 1875.
In 1877 members turned to rugby as cricket and other games, such as rounders, were not financially viable. The club, however, could not compete with the Grasshoppers and in May 1880 a resolution proposing the adoption of the association code was carried unanimously.
North End is the only club from the founder members of the Football League who have played continuously on the same grounds. Deepdale has now been the home for football for over 135 years.
Preston's Dick, Kerr Ladies
Preston's Dick, Kerr Ladies formed in 1917 and shaped women's football.
The team formed at the munitions works in Preston, Dick, Kerr & Co Ltd, and played their first game at Preston North End's Deepdale ground against Coulthards Foundry.
Following the team's success, by 1921 they were incredibly popular and were booked to play an average of two games a week all over the British Isles. This was even more impressive due to the team still working full time in the factory.
Hard times fell on the team when the FA claimed they had received complaints about women playing football, despite the team having been watched by almost 9,000 people in the year of 1921. Some suggested that football was dangerous for females to play and that is could affect their fertility. These complaints led the FA to ban girls from using league grounds on 5 December 1921. Despite this, the Dick, Kerr Ladies continued to play over 800 games in UK and abroad, raising over £180,000 for charity.
The team continued to play football against all the odds, playing throughout the 1920s and 1930s, even playing a series of matches in the USA. After claiming to be World Champions, the team were challenged by the Edinburgh Ladies. The Dick, Kerr Ladies accepted this challenge and won the match 5-1.
After being put on hold during WWII, the team was back together and resumed playing. They played on through many challenges up until 1965 when they were forced to disband due to a lack of players.
The Dick, Kerr Ladies were reunited for the first time since their disband at The Lancashire Trophy in 1992. The team's famous name began to capture the public again and the following years saw them receive long overdue recognition.