80th anniversary of PNE winning the FA Cup

George Mutch scores from the penalty spot to win the FA Cup for Preston against Huddersfield at Wembley in 1938
George Mutch scores from the penalty spot to win the FA Cup for Preston against Huddersfield at Wembley in 1938

Preston threw a party 80 years ago when the North End squad returned triumphant from Wembley after winning the FA Cup Final.

The final on April 30, 1938, was won by PNE in the most dramatic style.

They beat Huddersfield Town, George Mutch scoring from the penalty spot in the last minute of extra-time.

Mutch’s spot-kick went in off the underside of the bar, giving the club their first cup success since 1889.

It had been Mutch who was fouled for the penalty in the 119th minute.

At the time, Scotsman Mutch recalled: “I knew I was down to take it but I stayed down after the tackle hoping somebody else would step up.

“I asked our trainer to ask any of the other lads if they wanted it, but he came back and said no one did.

“Usually I put my penalties to the keeper’s left but Hesford the Huddersfield keeper, who was a big guy, looked twice as big as I steped up to take it.

“So I just closed my eyes and thumped it as hard as I could.

“When I looked up I saw the ball going upwards and I thought it was going over.

“For a brief moment there was complete silence and then I saw it in the back of the net and everybody came rushing towards me.”

Skipper Tom Smith was presented with the trophy by King George VI and pictures from the day showed his PNE team-mates carrying him shoulder high in celebration.

As estimated 40,000 Preston supporters had travelled to London for the game.

This was the first FA Cup Final to be televised by the BBC, although few households had a TV set at the time.

The victory made up for the previous year when North End had lost 3-1 to Sunderland in the final.

When the players returned to Preston the following day, thousands packed the streets to welcome them home.

Fishergate was lined deep with supporters as the coach made its way from the railway station to the Flag Market.

Deepdale was also packed to the rafters to see the trophy paraded around the pitch.

North End still had two First Division games to play after the final.

On May 4, they won 2-0 at Sunderland with Mutch again on the scoresheet together with Dick Watmough.

They finished off with a 0-0 draw at Charlton Athletic.