PNE’s Red Army

Danny Welbeck is one of 23 players to have been signed by Preston from Manchester United
Danny Welbeck is one of 23 players to have been signed by Preston from Manchester United
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Preston’s North End recent signings of Liam Grimshaw and Ben Pearson from Manchester United continues a well-trodden path between Deepdale and Old Trafford.

The Lilywhites have signed 23 players from United since the late 1940s, either permanently or on loan.

Grimshaw was the latest on Monday, the 20-year-old midfielder joining PNE for an undisclosed fee.

The week before, Pearson had arrived on a full-time deal and has played in North End’s last two matches.

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone joined on a 28-day loan from the Red Devils at the beginning of the month.

This is his second loan spell at Deepdale after playing 25 games last season.

Had Will Keane chosen to see out the full season on loan rather than return to United’s Under-21s, the current link would have stretched to four players.

Grimshaw’s move to North End attracted one headline that he had ‘followed’ David Beckham to Deepdale.

Beckham’s five-game loan with PNE started in February 1995 when Grimshaw was a fortnight old!

It is Beckham’s name which often gets trotted out when the links between PNE and United are discussed.

But the clubs were doing business decades before then, the first post-war signing from United being Joe Walton.

Eddie Lewis joined in 1955 after coming through United’s junior teams.

In October 1961, Alex Dawson, one of the Busby Babes, joined North End from United for £18,000.

Dawson, nicknamed the Black Prince, went on to be a huge crowd favourite at Deepdale.

He scored 114 goals in 197 games, one of those coming in the 1964 FA Cup final defeat to West Ham at Wembley.

Nobby Lawton came a couple of years after Dawson and was also in the FA Cup final team.

A move between United and Preston which really made the headlines was that of Bobby Charlton in 1973.

Charlton joined PNE as manager, hanging up his boots after such an illustrious playing career to concentrate on management.

However, those boots came down off the peg a year later.

After Charlton’s first season as a manager ended in relegation, he adopted a player/manager role and played 38 games for PNE.

Just before the start of the 1997/98 season, North End made a treble swoop to sign three United players.

Michael Appleton, Colin Murdock and Jon Macken swapped reserve football at United for the Preston 
first-team squad.

In December 2000, Preston broke their transfer record to sign David Healy, paying United £1.5m for the Northern Ireland striker – a record which still stands.

There was a flurry of activity involving the clubs during Darren Ferguson’s year as PNE manager.

He brought in Danny Welbeck on loan, the striker scoring twice in a spell which was cut short by injury.

Matty James, Josh King and Ritchie de Laet also came, that trio all famously recalled to Old Trafford the 
morning after Ferguson’s sacking.

Relations between the clubs have clearly mended of late, Simon Grayson keen to have good links with Premier League sides.

The PNE boss said: “It is important you have links with some of the big Premier League club.

“If you take their players on loan and treat them right, 
they will treat you right.

“I like to think we treat players right.”