PRESTON’S player of the year Joe Garner is hoping that a good season both on and off the pitch ends in Wembley joy.
The 26-year-old front man ended the regular season with 23 goals, a haul which clearly impressed both supporters and his PNE team-mates.
He was presented with the Sir Tom Finney Trophy at the club’s awards night on Sunday after the fans voted him as their player of the year.
Garner lifted the players’ player of the year award too, while last month he won the Preston Supporters’ Group honour.
With all but one of his goals coming since November, and him recently becoming a dad for the third time, it has been a special few months for the boyhood Preston supporter.
Now his focus is on trying to shoot down Rotherham in the play-off semi-final, the home leg of which is on Saturday.
Garner told the Evening Post: “The game at Deepdale this weekend is a big one.
“Hopefully it will be a full house and the supporters can get right behind us.
“We are just thinking about Saturday first and then we will see where we are after that.
“What we want is to go to Rotherham in decent shape the following Thursday.
“I can see both games being tight because ourselves and Rotherham are up there for a reason.
“We are confident because our away form has been strong this season and at home lately we have been scoring goals at will.
“Our season starts now and the play-offs almost have to be treated like a mini-league.
“If we could finish on top of it, that would be fantastic.”
Naturally, Garner was delighted to earn the vote of both fans and colleagues in the player of the year voting.
He said: “I know I can score goals at this level and I’m confident in my own ability.
“To win the two awards the other night was a great bonus.
“I appreciate the support which the fans have given me and it is nice to be recognised by the lads who I work with every day.
“You get all sorts going on during the season and seeing the same 30 faces every day is sometimes hard work.
“To get the award from them is very special.
“I have had seven or eight clubs now and experienced various faces and personalities in the dressing room.
“But I would say that this is one of the tightest-knit groups I have been in, if not the tightest-knit.
“That is a very special thing and hopefully we can finish off this season by doing well in the play-offs.
“I feel at home here. I live in the area, whereas in the past I have been travelling up and down motorways going to different teams.”
There were long queues outside Deepdale yesterday as tickets went on sale for both legs against Rotherham.
Some early birds started queuing at 5.30am in order to get their hands on seats for the away leg.
Peter Ridsdale, advisor to club owner Trevor Hemmings, turned tea boy during the morning to hand out free drinks to supporters in the queues which snaked back on to Deepdale Road.