PNE fan’s marathon trip to watch cup clash

PNE fan Michael Jackson who flew over from South Africa to watch the Manchester United game at Deepdale.
PNE fan Michael Jackson who flew over from South Africa to watch the Manchester United game at Deepdale.
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A desperate PNE fan fulfilled his dream of watching North End’s blockbuster clash against Manchester United after the Football Association answered his prayers.

Michael Jackson has been based in South Africa for the last 25 years and the lifelong PNE fan launched a Facebook appeal earlier this month to get tickets to the ‘once in a lifetime’ FA Cup fifth round tie.

The 52-year-old was that keen to bag a golden ticket that he offered to sell his kidney, ride a giraffe or swim from Cape Town up the River Ribble to bag a seat at Monday night’s match.

Despite PNE’s controversial 3-1 defeat to Premier League giants Manchester United he said it has been a trip to remember.He said: “It has been the adventure of a lifetime.

“Deepdale looked fantastic, the fans were fantastic.

“The whole world is talking about PNE. When Scott Laird scored my wife turned to me and said, ‘How are we going to get tickets to the quarter-finals against Arsenal now?’

Michael, originally from Longton, and his wife Carol flew half way across the world without tickets but the conference speaker revealed the FA had a special surprise waiting when they landed in London.

He said: “When we landed the FA asked us to meet them in an office and they laid on a trip to Wembley to pick up the tickets in the Royal Box.

“They had two tickets for me and my wife hidden inside the real FA Cup, not a replica, it was amazing.”

Michael has been criticised by some Twitter users for offering to sell his kidney but he said the comment was a joke.

He has since donated £100 to Penwortham youngster Ryan Walker’s fundraising page. The three-year-old is suffering from Stage 2 Wilms Tumour and had a kidney removed.

Michael said: “We saw on Facebook page Preston, Past and Present about Ryan Walker’s charity and we donated £100 to it. I think it is a worthy cause and they deserve to be supported.

“It is illegal to sell a body parts. I don’t know what has happened to the Northern sense of humour?

“I said I’d swim from Cape Town and ride a giraffe too.

“It wasn’t something designed to upset or offend anyone.”

PNE fan Chris Doyle had made a similar plea for a ticket in the LEP when PNE last played United, back in 1972, when he was just 13. Referee Bill Shaw then came up trumps.

Chris returned to Deepdale for Monday night’s game. He said: “It was a better atmosphere last night than 40 years ago.

“The stadium has changed completely.”