A year since Westley’s PNE45

Graham Westley was sacked by Preston 12 months ago
Graham Westley was sacked by Preston 12 months ago
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IT is a year ago today that Graham Westley met his Preston North End Waterloo.

Westley’s 13-month reign as Preston manager was brought to an end in a coffee bar at Waterloo Station in 
London.

The previous night, North End had been beaten 3-1 by Yeovil Town – a sixth defeat in seventh matches.

Patience among the fans had run out long before that trip to Huish Park, with Lilywhites owner Trevor Hemmings of the same mind.

Club officials travelled to the capital for a ‘morning after’ meeting and relieved Westley of his duties.

The end had been coming for some weeks, results the elephant in the room – North End were in real danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap.

Westley had urged patience, saying he needed time to complete a job he had started on Friday, January 13, 2012.

Even in the aftermath of the Yeovil defeat, he bristled at a question from a reporter who had asked whether he could consider resigning.

“I think that is a rude question,” said Westley. “I’m a professional person and when things aren’t working, it is my responsibility to do all I can to put things right.”

In the days after his sacking, Westley penned a final weekly column for the Evening Post.

He wrote: “I am 100% sure that I would have successfully finished building on the demolition work and foundations that I had completed.

“But unfortunately, as it was put to me, ‘Mr Hemmings lost patience’. To be fair, with the mood of the fans being what it was, it did need a strong faith in me to back me. I completely understand that.”

North End quickly moved on from Westley who went on to re-join Stevenage within six weeks of his sacking.

John Dreyer oversaw their 2-0 win against Bournemouth in a caretaker capacity.

There was just a six-day window between permanent managers, with Simon Grayson appointed to fill the Deepdale hot-seat on February 18.

In the remaining 14 games of last season, Preston won five, drew six and lost only three.

While Grayson has since added to the squad, there is still a legacy of Westley’s era in terms of his signings.

Declan Rudd, Scott Laird, David Buchanan, John Welsh, Joe Garner, Keith Keane, Jack King, Lee Holmes and Stuart Beavon are among the Westley buys still involved in the squad on a regular basis.

Giving balance to that argument, there are a fair number of Westley signings no longer at Deepdale.

Mention the names of Aaron Brown and Anthony Elding to North End fans, and they break out in a cold sweat at the memory.