Former footballers set for a night of nostalgia

Wilf Riley
Wilf Riley
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A reunion to remember one of the best years in Preston’s local footballing history will take place later this year.

Former amateur players from exactly 50 years ago are set to gather at Bamber Bridge’s Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Friday, October 28.

The ‘Boys of 66’ will commemorate the special occasion when they were crowned winners of the County Youth Cup.

Representing the Preston and District Football League, the youngsters emerged victorious over Wigan in the final.

Aged around 17 or 18 back then, the players will now be in their late 60s.

While that particular success will be commemorated, the reunion is open to all former players, referees and officials from that era and beyond.

It is being organised by well known ex-local footballer and official Wilf Riley, who organised something similar last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Junior Cup final in 1965 between English Martyrs Juniors and St Joseph’s Juniors.

As well as commemorating the County Cup victory, the former players will also be reminiscing about Preston North End’s famous 9-0 win over Cardiff during the same year along with the fifth round FA Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

And of course, England’s World Cup success over West Germany is likely to drop into the conversation at some point.

“There is a photo of the youth team and about 90% of the players on that photo will be coming to the reunion,” Riley said. “We will be doing a photocall on the night to try to match the photo which was taken 50 years ago.

“It should be a good night. The one we held last year was very well attended. There were more than 80 who came – lads who played from the 1960s and 1970s.”

The event will also remember footballing stalwarts who have recently passed away, including Dick Clegg.

He for many years organised schoolboy reunions and nostalgia nights before his death in 2014.

“After the one we had last year, I was not going to do another, but the lads have got on to me organise another,” said Riley.

“Dick Clegg used to run nostalgia evenings, but he died in 2014 – around about the same time as Sir Tom Finney’s death.

“He was a retired teacher and was heavily involved in Preston Schools’ events.

“I have been sort of asked to pick up the baton from him and I feel honoured to be asked to do so.”

Those attending the reunion are also likely to raise a glass to the Preston town team which won the English Schools’ Cup exactly 80 years ago.

The schoolboys shared the trophy with West Ham after the final – which was played in front of several thousand fans – finished 1-1 at Upton Park.

Interestingly, a diminutive 13-year-old Tom Finney was in the town team squad in 1936, although he watched the final from the sidelines after missing out on a place in the Preston starting XI.

All proceeds from the reunion will be split between St Catherine’s Hospice and Preston Schools’ Football Association.

Tickets on the door cost £5, which includes pie and peas supper. The event starts at 6-30pm.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the event or for further information on donations or attending the evening, please contact Wilf Riley on 01772 336257 or 52 Moss Lane, Lostock Hall, PR5 5BT. His email address is wilf.riley@gmx.com