All Eyres and graces

David Eyres played for Oldham until he was 42, the winger having joined the Latics from Preston

David Eyres played for Oldham until he was 42, the winger having joined the Latics from Preston

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A player who is remembered in an equal measure of fondness by both Preston North End and Oldham fans ahead of Saturday’s Boundary Park clash is David Eyres.

The winger served both clubs with distinction, keeping going at Oldham until his early 40s.

He was 33 when he signed for North End in October 1997 from Lancashire rivals Burnley for £80,000.

A relative latecomer to the professional game, Eyres had started off at non-league Rhyl before making his full-time breakthrough with Blackpool.

At North End, Eyres made 133 appearances and scored 27 goals.

Eight of those goals – two of them in a 3-0 win over Blackpool – came during the 1999/2000 Second Division title-winning season.

Such was his impact in his three years at Deepdale, that Eyres was voted by fans in a North End all-time XI a couple of years ago.

He started the following season in the PNE squad before being freed to join Oldham.

If that was seen as his last hurrah at the age of 36, then such an assumption was well wide of the mark.

Eyres was at Oldham for nearly six years and played 241 games.

His scoring record was impressive too, with 44 goals coming from him.

He was 42 when he finally hung up his boots, his fitness even then putting some much younger players to shame.

Oldham manager of the time Iain Dowie commented that Eyres was often at the front during running sessions in training.

Eyres is among a number of players to have worn the white of Preston and Oldham’s blue in their careers.

Daniel Johnson has done that this season, PNE’s bargain buy from Aston Villa in January having turned out for Latics before Christmas.

He was on loan from Villa for six weeks, scoring three goals in six starts and one substitute appearance.

Johnson will return to Boundary Park with PNE at the weekend in good form, having scored in successive games against Scunthorpe and Walsall.

Neil Kilkenny will also find Oldham’s ground familiar territory, having had two loan spells with them.

He was a Birmingham player at the time, and was lent out in the 2004/05 campaign and again in 2007/08. A Latics team-mate in Kilkenny’s second spell was former Preston skipper Sean Gregan.

He made more than a century of appearances for Oldham after joining them from Leeds.

It was at Preston where Gregan enjoyed his best times in football.

Signed by Gary Peters in December 1996 from Darlington for £350,000, he started out as a centre-half before moving forward into midfield.

Gregan skippered PNE for much of time at Deepdale, lifting the Second Division title trophy in 2000.

He and Mark Rankine formed such an effective midfield partnership, one which helped win promotion and then go within a whisker of reaching the Premier League in 2001.

Eventually, Gregan was to reach the top flight following a £1.5m switch to West Bromwich in July 2002.

Others to have played for both PNE and Oldham down the years include Les Chapman, Graham Bell, Tony Ellis, Tony Philliskirk, Alex Jones , John Platt, Allan Smart and Mike Flynn.

Jones was one of John McGrath’s first signings when he rebuilt the PNE squad for just £15,000 in the summer of 1986.

He played in a three-man defence with Sam Allardyce and Bob Atkins, with McGrath nicknaming the trio the ‘solicitors’.

In the current Oldham squad is Rhys Murphy, a striker who spent part of the 2011/12 season on loan at PNE from Arsenal.

He joined the Latics from Dagenham and Redbridge in January.