London is calling for Preston North End fans to celebrate ‘Gentry Day’.
The away game at Brentford on Saturday, March 16, will see North End supporters don their bowler hats for the annual celebration.
Gentry Day is organised by the Preston Supporters’ Group and is held in the memory of PNE fans and ex-Preston players who have passed away in the last year.
It was first staged in 2005, and has become a regular fixture since 2008.
Back in the early 1970s, the North End manager of the time Alan Ball Snr, dubbed Preston fans ‘The Gentry’.
Ball had been impressed by a large following of them at a long-distance away game and the support they had given the team that day.
Asked by a reporter about the backing, Ball said: “Preston fans are the best, they’re the gentry.’
That gave rise to supporters wearing bowler hats and pin-striped suits for matches in that era.
In 2005, the Preston Supporters’ Group resurrected the idea.
They organised the ‘Return of the Gentry’ in memory of PNE fan John Tracey – a member of the original Gentry in the 70s.
It took place at the away game at Queens Park Rangers on February 12, 2005, goals from Chris Lucketti and Dave Nugent giving Preston a 2-1 win at Loftus Road.
Three years later saw Gentry Day become an annual event.
And it was back at Loftus Road where it was celebrated, North End drawing 2-2 with QPR courtesy of goals from Neil Mellor and loanee Tamas Priskin.
In 2009, bowler-hatted PNE fans were back in London again, for a goalless draw with Charlton at The Valley.
The last three Gentry Days have been staged a bit closer to home at Newcastle, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday. Organisers have decided on a return to the capital this season.
And after three straight defeats on Gentry Day, hopefully the London trip can yield a better result.
Last season’s visit to Griffin Park was an enjoyable one, North End winning 3-1 with Neil Mellor (2) and Iain Hume on target.
A PSG spokesman said: “The London trips have often proved to be the most enjoyable on the calender.
“Griffin Park is also one of only two grounds with terracing, which we feel will add to the enjoyment of the day.
“So please get out your bowlers, pinstripes and bow ties, and let’s once again show London town that ‘The Gentry’ are a cut above everyone else.
“While enjoying ourselves, let’s not forget the reason for doing so.”
North End’s two visits to the capital this season have been well supported, and several hundred can be expected at Griffin Park.
In November, the PNE away following numbered 875 in the 2-0 defeat to Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road.
And 468 braved the away end at the New Den for the 1-0 FA Cup loss against Millwall earlier this month.
The Brentford game will mark the end of some long-distance away days for North End’s travelling faithful.
Since the middle of November they’ve clocked up thousands of motorway miles with visits to Stevenage, Orient, Portsmouth, Coventry (twice), Hartlepool and Millwall.
Trips to Crawley Town, Colchester, Yeovil and Swindon are coming up in the next few weeks – the Crawley and Yeovil games both on Tuesday nights
There then follow visits to MK Dons, Notts County and Brentford.
After that, the remaining three away games are slightly more travel-friendly, with trips to Crewe, Carlisle and Sheffield United.