JOSH BROWNHILL WRITES FOR THE EVENING POST

Josh Brownhill has enjoyed a whirlwind year for North End

Josh Brownhill has enjoyed a whirlwind year for North End

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I bet all you Preston supporters could never imagine yourselves wearing the tangerine colours of Blackpool. But as a boy growing up, that was the type of dilemma I was faced with.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Manchester City fan, it was a strange experience when I was picked up by deadly rivals United as a kid.

I actually trained with both clubs when I was young but when it came to signing my first little contract, United were the club I chose.

Although I am only 18-years-old, I can well remember the days when City were not the all-powerful Premier League champions that they are today.

I can’t quite recall the one season when the Blues sunk to the third tier of English football in 1998 – I was not even three-years-old – but I do remember when City were completely in the shadow of their neighbours.

While Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were winning all before them in the English game and Europe, my formative years were spent watching City yo-yoing around the divisions.

Back then cult hero Shaun Goater was my favourite player and I used to love it when the chant “Feed the Goat and he will score” reverberated around Maine Road.

It was my dad who introduced me to the delights of being a City fan but as much as I love the club, I had to let my head rule my heart when it came to my footballing development.

United were well known for developing young players in those days and as the best team in the land, I could not really turn them down.

Although I played matches for the junior teams at United, I always made sure I would wear my City shirt during training.

There would always be lots of banter flying around especially from the coaches but it was all good fun and when the derby matches used to come around, they would get me tickets for the games. I suppose it would have been strange for my dad to see me wearing red and being on the other side.

But he knew it was all about playing football and helping me to fulfil my dream of playing professionally.

Mind you, if I was growing up in this day and age and had to make a choice between the two clubs now, I imagine my decision would be different.

City have grown into a monster, due to the huge financial investment from the Abu Dhabi United Group, who took over the club around six years ago.

Obviously, the club has long since moved from Maine Road to Eastlands and it’s amazing to see everything that is going on now with all the fantastic new facilities they have got.

It’s mad to think that it was not that long ago that they were struggling in the third tier but now they are one of the biggest clubs in the world, who boast some great players like Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure.

Talking of Aguero, he has given me my greatest moment in football – bar anything I have done on a personal level in the game of course.

When I think of his last minute goal against Queens Park Rangers which helped us win the 2012 Premier League title, it brings a big smile to my face.

I was desperate to get a ticket for that particular game but I could not get one, so I watched it at home with all my family.

We all thought the title had gone when QPR led 2-1 but to score twice in injury time was an incredible feeling.

It’s quite ironic for me that Aguero’s last-ditch winner snatched the title from United because at the time I was still at Old Trafford as a jurior.

I must admit I do not get to see City play much these days due to my PNE commitments.

The last match I saw was the Community Shield at Wembley when Arsenal won 3-0.

I am hoping to get to a game this season if I can although the team is not doing too well at the moment. Obviously, I can’t deny it would be a dream to play for City one day.

My motto is ‘Dream big and you never know what might happen’. It would be just good to play against them and I am hoping here at Preston, we can continue our progress in the FA Cup and draw them in the third round.

Even though I am a boyhood Blue, Preston is now my team and I owe the club a lot.

They gave me an opportunity after United released me at the age of 16 and other clubs said I was not good enough. It is something I will never forget.

When I was told I would not be offered a scholarship at Old Trafford, I was absolutely gutted. I thought it was the end of the world.

I then went on trial at a number of different clubs like Burnley, Crewe and Sheffield United.

But I came to Preston and within a week they told me that they wanted to sign me, which was a great feeling.

It’s only since I have been here that I have learned how big the club is and I knew that I could do well here.

I must admit things have happened quickly since I arrived at Deepdale and it’s been a whirlwind year since making my debut.

Never did I imagine I would be making my first-team debut at the age of 17.

I had a goal to try to be in and around the squad last season and maybe get a game towards the end of the season, but to play as many games as I did was a surreal experience.

This season has gone well and I was pleased to get back in the side for the win over Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup on Monday after spending a period on the substitutes’ bench.

It’s everyone’s goal to win promotion this season and hopefully we can return to winning ways in the league at home to Bradford City tomorrow.

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