Steve’s top of the PNE kit parade

North End kit man Steve Wales moved to Deepdale in the summer
North End kit man Steve Wales moved to Deepdale in the summer
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The arrival of Steve Wales at Preston North End this summer was probably a signing which slipped under the radar.

He joined 11 weeks ago as Deepdale’s kitman and, along with the long-serving Russ Rigby, is responsible for making sure the North End players at all levels have the right strip and equipment for matches and training.

The nerve centre for Wales and Rigby is a room tucked away near the home dressing room underneath the Alan Kelly Town End.

That is where the kit is washed, numbers printed on and repairs done.

Wales, said: “What the fans see on a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night starts for Russ and myself the day before.

“For a home game we usually get 20 ro 22 sets of kit ready the day before. Every player will have two shirts, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of socks, boots, underwear, warming-up t-shirt, sweatshirt, shower jacket and jogging pants.

“Then there are the cones, bibs and bags of footballs which are needed.

“For an away game, all the kit and equipment goes in skips on board the team coach. Russ doesn’t do the away games but I travel with the players and staff.

“There is a bit more pressure on the away games because if you forget something, you have to do without it.

“Not too long ago, Millwall turned up at an away game with no shirts – their kitman had forgotten to pack them.

“Touch wood, I have never done anything like that.

“If the away match has an overnight stay beforehand, I arrange with the coach driver to go to the ground in the morning.

“He drops me and the kit off and while I get everything ready, the coach goes back to the hotel to pick up the players.

“The pressure is on after the game because everyone wants to get home as soon as possible.

“Our physio Matt Jackson, the masseur John Sumner and the analyst Ali Lishman all muck in and help bag the kit up.”

Wales previously worked part-time at Blackpool, although he is quick to point out he is not a Seasiders fan!

“I was born and bred in Shaw, a town between Oldham and Rochdale,” said Wales, 64.

“In 2008 I got asked to go in at Blackpool for a month and stayed six years. Their secretary was from Shaw, so was Steve Thompson, who was Simon Grayson’s assistant.

“So it is a Shaw link which got me into professional football.

“At Blackpool I was just the matchday kitman but here I’m full-time and loving every minute of it.”