PNE trip down memory lane

From left, John Lukic, Fred Eyre, Ian Rigby and Johnnie Casson at the Preston North End Former Players' Association Sportsman's Dinner
From left, John Lukic, Fred Eyre, Ian Rigby and Johnnie Casson at the Preston North End Former Players' Association Sportsman's Dinner
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PRESTON footballers of yesteryear took a trip down memory lane when the PNE Former Players’ Association held their annual sportsman’s dinner at Deepdale.

This was the 18th year that the event has been held, with more than 200 people filling the Invincibles Lounge.

From left, David Lucas, Lee Ashcroft and Graham Alexander at the Preston North End Former Players' Association Sportsman's Dinner

From left, David Lucas, Lee Ashcroft and Graham Alexander at the Preston North End Former Players' Association Sportsman's Dinner

Guest speaker was former Arsenal and Leeds goalkeeper John Lukic, with the jokes provided by guest comedian Johnnie Casson.

Ex-Manchester City player and radio pundit Fred Eyre compered the evening, standing in for resident compere Mike King.

There was a moment of reflection at the start of the night to remember former PNE players Tommy Thompson, Ernie Hannigan, Fred Else and Howard Kendall who had passed away, so too ex-PNE chairman Keith Leeming who was an associate member of the association.

A number of players who have worn the Preston shirt down the years, attended.

Alex Bruce, Mike Elwiss, Roy Tunks, Steve Elliott, John Thomas, Ricky Thomson, Graham Houston, John Smith, Eric Jones, Peter Sayer, Eric Snookes, Graham Alexander, David Lucas, Lee Cartwright and Lee Ashcroft were among those to turn out.

A special presentation was made to the association’s vice-president Leo Gornall for his long service.

Ian Rigby, secretary of the association, told the Evening Post: “It was another very successful evening and it was great to see another full house.

“This is an event we never have to advertise because people come back year after year, and we had 209 here.

“We have more than 200 members, although they are spread far and wide and not everyone can make the annual dinner.

“But they keep in touch with us by our newsletter and attend other events we have during the year, getting involved in different ways.

“We had a couple of new faces this time with Graham Alexander and David Lucas, it was nice to see them.

“Steve Elliott, one of our strikers from the late 1970s and early 1980s, was able to attend this year.

“His job means that he often works nights so is unable to get here, so for him to be here on this occasion was excellent.”

All money raised on the night goes to local children’s charities at Christmas.

Ex-PNE manager David Moyes donated a signed Real Sociedad shirt.

That raised £180 at auction, with a framed drawing of former skipper Sean Gregan getting a bid of £90.

Rigby said: “I got in contact with David Moyes and asked if he could donate something for the auction.

“He sent a Sociedad shirt signed by himself and their players and it proved popular in the auction.

“It was a very generous gesture from him.”