Exclusive Joe Garner Column

My shorts are hitched up to resemble Paul Gallagher's

My shorts are hitched up to resemble Paul Gallagher's

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My goal celebration after scoring against Barnsley seemed to get the fans talking last week.

It was aimed at Paul Gallagher after he came down for snacks in the hotel on Friday night wearing the worst pair of shorts I have probably ever seen!

We just fell about giggling at them – they were like pyjama shorts.

Actually, I’m not quite sure what they were but I can 
say they were terrible!

Hitching my shorts up high to celebrate the goal was a bit uncomfortable but that is exactly the way Gally sat through snacks, so it was my way of paying tribute to him for that.

Jack King has a lot to do with the celebration too.

He is my room-mate on away trips so we always end up coming up with some daft ideas to help pass the time and come up with a few laughs.

Kingy has got a great sense of humour and quite a few of my goal celebrations have had his helping hand.

The one at Walsall earlier in the season when I ran across the pitch with my arm outstretched out like Superman was another of Kingy’s.

That was in honour of Scott Laird, who had celebrated that way after scoring in training.

There is the ‘Birdman’ dance which I do quite often and one or two others – it is just a bit of fun, part of the strong 
team spirit we have developed here.

I might have to try and think up another one soon…see if I can work something out with Kingy.

The important thing is that I keep scoring goals and we keep picking up points – how we celebrate is just a bonus.

Obviously I’m pleased with how many goals I’ve scored this season.

Twenty goals in the league and another in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is decent when you consider I had 10 weeks out injured.

My aim is to score more and hopefully I can get on the scoresheet again when we play Fleetwood on Sunday.

Probably I should be on 21 league goals for the season by now because I should have scored in the first 10 minutes at Barnsley.

The ball came over from Gally and I tried to chest the ball into the net – I probably should have headed it but 
the ball was at a difficult 
height.

I made contact, it hit the goalkeeper on the knee and luckily for him, it flew over the bar.

A bit later I was able to score the goal to give us the lead and off I went with the celebration.

Fleetwood will be another tough away game like Barnsley was and we will have to play well there.

There are quite a few connections between Preston and Fleetwood in terms of the coaching staff there and some of their players.

That just adds a little bit more to what is already an important game for both 
clubs.

Graham Alexander is the obvious link and he was a very popular player at Preston.

Most of his coaching staff are former PNE players too, so no doubt they will be looking forward to Sunday.

It will be a full house over there. A lot of our supporters are going so it should be a very good atmosphere.

I’ve now been with North End for more than two years now and the time has flown by.

I was at Watford before coming here and they got taken over by Italian owners.

They also owned the Spanish club Granada and Italian side Udinese.

Watford started signing players from those clubs, which pushed me down the pecking order a bit.

I played the first few games after Gianfranco Zola was appointed but I was then deemed surplus to requirements and told I could leave.

There were opportunities for me to stay down south and join clubs in the Championship – the division I’d been playing in for Watford.

Then the chance came up for me to come to Preston and I was more than happy to do that.

Once a few things got sorted out at Watford, I signed for North End straight away.

I suppose it had always been in the back of my mind that playing for the club I supported would be nice to do at some stage of my career.

There had not been that opportunity before, so it was a good opportunity for me.

The move has worked out well – we are now sat nicely in the league and hopefully we can get the job done over the next few weeks.

Like any footballer, I want to play at the highest level that I can and I want to get back to the Championship.

I will keep on trying to do that until we get there.

Looking back, my first few months here were a bit of a struggle because I did not score for quite a while.

For some reason it took me some time to get going. Why that was, I’m not too sure.

What is clear is that the gaffer Simon Grayson has got the best out of me since he came to the club.

He has always shown a lot of confidence in me and let me go and play my natural game.

The gaffer is a top manager and knows how to get the best out of all his players.

Fair play to him, his track record at this level is excellent and he has already got three clubs promoted.

All the lads want to repay the faith he has shown in them by getting promoted this season.

He is most definitely one of the best managers I have worked with in my career – and there have been a few.

The gaffer’s training is spot on and the way he is with the players is top drawer.

His record speaks for itself and hopefully it will be even better come the end of the season – it is a pleasure to work with him.