PNE’s oldest fan is man of the match at Deepdale

Bernard Jones, 102 during his VIP day at Preston North End
Bernard Jones, 102 during his VIP day at Preston North End
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Preston North End’s oldest fan was the star of the show on Saturday - and he proved to be a lucky charm as the Lilywhites ran out 1-0 winners over Oldham.

Bernard Jones, 102, was invited on a VIP experience at Deepdale, thanks to Heather Buckell of fan group North End Soul, who heard he’d given up his season ticket due to mobility problems.

She set about speaking with her contacts, and managed to secure a dream day for Bernard, originally from Wales, who ‘adopted’ the club after listening on the radio to their victory in the 1938 FA Cup.

As well as dining in the Invincibles Pavillion and having a tour of the changing rooms and grounds, Bernard got to meet past and present players, manager Simon Grayson and even owner Trevor Hemmings.

At half time, captain John Welsh presented Bernard with a shirt signed by all the players, and after the match, he got onto the pitch to have his picture taken with the team.

Heather said: “It was a brilliant day. I think he was gobsmaked by all the people he met and everything he was able to see.

“He certainly got into the game as well - he was clapping and shouting at the players .

“He nearly had me in tears a couple of times, saying ‘this is the best day of my life’.”

She added: “I achieved what I wanted to achieve. and we got a win as well.

“I took loads of pictures and I’m going to put them all together into an album for him, and go round to see him for a brew.

“We’re definitely going to keep in touch, and I hope I can take him on a few more games, weather permitting.

“He knows that we can’t lay on all the VIP treatment for him another time, but I think he’ll be recognised and people will make a bit of a fuss.

“It would be great if we could get promotion this season. If we do, I’ve promised he’ll be on the last home match.”

Bernard’s daughter Maggie Waltham also joined him for the match.

She said: “It was an absolutely fabulous, beautiful day - they made him feel like royalty, and I can’t thank Heather and the club enough.

“We even got lovely weather for it, it couldn’t have been any better.”