Jamie Hoyland is an avid watcher of football, although not in the sense of being slumped in front of the television watching the latest offering from Sky Sports.
He hit the century mark of games last season, viewing either from the press box in a radio pundit’s role or in the scouting area, on behalf of the Football Association.
It is a fair bet that Hoyland will be at the 100-match mark again – or beyond – this coming campaign, his scouting work with the FA having progressed to a new level.
The 49-year-old is a familiar voice on BBC Radio Lancashire, casting his expert eye over games involving local clubs.
Hoyland served two of them, Preston and Burnley, during his career on the pitch and then on the touchline.
He played for the Clarets between 1994 and 1998, one of seven clubs he lent his midfield talents to – Manchester City, Bury, home-town club Sheffield United, Bristol City, Carlisle and Scarborough being the others.
It was as youth-team coach that he came to North End in the summer of 2006, doing that job until being let go six years later in 2012.
After a short stint out of the game, he is now right back in it, albeit as pundit and scout.
“I watched exactly 100 games last season, working for BBC Lancashire and scouting for the FA,” Hoyland told the Evening Post.
“Next season I will be scouting for the FA, in terms of both the senior England side and the Under-21s.
“The scouting came about as a result of having a chat with someone who had never realised I enjoyed that side of the game.
“Actually, if you had told me a few years ago that I would be doing this, I would have been surprised myself.
“But the more I have done radio over the last couple of years, I realised it is like scouting.
“You are looking at different things than when you are down on the touchline coaching.
“Of the 100 games I watched last season, probably the first and last were the ones which stick fondly in the memory.
“The 100th was Preston’s victory at Wembley in the play-off final.
“From start to finish, that was a brilliant day. We were there early, had a walk down to the pitch and then had a stroll on Wembley Way to mingle with the fans.
“The match itself was unbelievable – if Carlsberg did football games, that was the one for Preston North End supporters.
“Preston were superb that afternoon, everything they did came off and Swindon has no answer to them.
“Afterwards I got down to the dressing room to see my brother-in-law Alan Kelly.
“He was quite emotional and it was great to share his joy at Preston being promoted.
“My first game of the season last August had been Burnley’s first game back in the Premier League against Chelsea.
“Burnley took the lead and then you saw Chelsea step up two or three gears to play some brilliant football.
“I thought that night that if you wanted to win the Premier League, then you had to finish one place above Chelsea.
“They ended up winning the league at quite a canter and that Monday night at Turf Moor you could see why. Next season, with the radio and scouting work, I will probably be at three or four games a week.”
It was nine years ago that Hoyland joined North End’s youth-team coaching staff.
Paul Simpson had just taken over as manager at Deepdale following the departure of Billy Davies to Derby County.
All of Davies’ backroom staff followed him to Pride Park, leaving Simpson with a re-building job behind the scenes.
Over the next six years, Hoyland helped bring a number of youngsters through the ranks, many of whom remain in the game – a major source of pride for the Yorkshireman.
“I had been out of the game for a couple of years and was working for the sports firm Mitre,” said Hoyland.
“Paul Simpson got the job at Preston and all of his staff had walked out. Simmo rang me and asked me whether I fancied the job as head of youth.
“My answer was, ‘No chance’ because I wanted to be out there on the grass coaching, not sat in an office organising everything.
“I said I would be youth-team coach and they gave me that job. I was at the club from 2006 to 2012 and I look back on the job I did with immense pride.
“I look at Bailey Wright who is in the Preston side, while Josh Brownhill was the last lad we brought in before I left.
“Danny Mayor and Jamie Proctor came through and would probably have stayed had Graham Westley not let them go – Reece James was the same.
“I think from my time at Preston, there are 14 or 15 lads who came through the system who are still playing in the Football League and earning their living from the game.
“I’m absolutely delighted about that.
“We would always try and instill some humility into them, make them decent young men as well as working on their football ability.
“We’d often tell them what a good position they were in – 99% of the male population would probably love to be footballers.
“It took a couple of years for us to get the youth system run along the lines of what we wanted.
“Different people and regimes look for different things in a player. Eventually we got things how we wanted them.
“We hit the Irish market a little bit. Conor McLaughlin came from there, as well as getting some more local lads in – Danny Mayor and George Miller.
“George was a great prospect – he should have gone further than he did but sometimes that happens.
“Getting any young player to first-team level requires a lot of hard work and attention. When Darren Ferguson was appointed manager, it perhaps opened the door a bit more for young players in terms of getting into the first team.
“Preston fans might have things to say about Darren but he was fantastic to work for.
“In terms of younger players, he had seen with his dad at Manchester United what could happen if you gave youngsters their chance.
“I think a few things changed behind the scenes after Darren’s appointment – maybe the rug got pulled from under his feet in terms of what he had planned to do.”
It was Ferguson’s sacking late in December 2010 that saw Hoyland handed a brief involvement with the Preston first team.
David Unsworth was given the caretaker manager’s job, with Hoyland assisting him.
They were at the helm for two games, a spell in which five loan players were taken away from them and Hoyland landed in front the FA on a disciplinary charge!
“After Darren was sacked, Unsy was put in charge and I helped him out,” said Hoyland.
“We played Derby at home on New Year’s Day and then Crystal Palace away a couple of days later.
“On the morning before the Derby game, Unsy and myself were sat in the office planning the team.
“We were saying, ‘We can put him there, pair those two together’ when Ben Rhodes the club secretary walked in and said, ‘No you can’t’.
“Ben explained that Manchester United had called back their loan players and then Stoke did similar.
“We took a deep breath and just got on with picking a side without them.
“The team played well against Derby, who were flying at the time and were a bit unlucky to lose.
“At Palace in the next game, it was 0-0 when Keith Treacy was fouled in the box.
“It was a nailed-on penalty yet the referee waved play on and Palace went upfield and won a free-kick from which they scored the winning goal.
“I was fuming on the touchline, had a right go at the fourth official and got sent to the stand.
“The FA charged me with pushing the fourth official and using foul and abusive language.
“I had to appear before an FA disciplinary panel and it perhaps summed up how the club was at the time that no one went with me.
“The charge of pushing the fourth official was withdrawn after he retracted his statement and I held my hand up to using the bad language.
“I got fined basically for being passionate about the job I was doing.”
When Hoyland looks back over the list of players who came through the ranks at Preston, the name Bailey Wright stands out.
Now a mainstay of the PNE defence and an Australia international, Wright was a 16-year-old lad when he turned up unexpectedly on North End’s doorstep in 2009.
Said Hoyland: “With some players it takes a while to make your mind up about.
“It took me only 15 minutes to pick out Bailey as someone who had a career ahead of them.
“For him to go on and have the career he’s had so far, showed loads of character.
“Here is a lad whose home is on the other side of the world, coming through the ranks and making a name for himself.
“It was one Saturday morning when he turned up at the training ground with his dad.
“He had been on trial at Blackburn and I think they turned up to watch a youth team game which we should have been playing.
“That had got called off and we were training instead.
“His dad asked if Bailey could train with us and we let him join in.
“Bailey’s been here ever since and what a credit to him to have got to the level he is now.
“We had another Australian lad, Cameron Parrish, who didn’t make it here but has settled in the country. He was a tremendous lad too.”
Hoyland’s time at Preston came to an end in 2012 during Graham Westley’s time as manager.
It is not a surprise to hear that he was no fan of Westley, irrespective of what happened to his job then.
“Phil Brown came in after Darren Ferguson and it didn’t happen for him here,” said Hoyland.
“He was a decent enough guy, had some ideas which worked for a bit but then it became a struggle.
“When Phil left, I wanted David Unsworth to get the job and a lot of people wanted Graham Alexander.
“Suddenly, from nowhere almost, Graham Westley came into the running.
“I thought that after two weeks, he was not the right manager for Preston North End. There was a job to do in terms of saving money but I felt there were other managers who could have come in and done that the right way.
“Losing my job when I did was one of those things which happens in football – I said exactly that to Peter Ridsdale when they got rid of me.
“People come and go at clubs and I had six great years with Preston. Under Simon Grayson, the club is buzzing and it is marvellous to see them back in the Championship.
“I think Preston will look to consolidate this season and that is not being unambitious in any shape or form.
“It is about building, finding your feet in the division and then trying to push on again.
“This is a big-money spending league, usually the ones who spend a lot of money get out of it. Burnley have probably been the exception to the rule in recent years.
“In Simon Grayson, North End have a very level-headed manager who will do the right things for the club.
“This is an exciting time for the Preston fans, coming off the back of Wembley, and they will enjoy being back at the higher level.”