Bailey meets PNE legend

Blast from the past: Former PNE centre-half Joe Marston
Blast from the past: Former PNE centre-half Joe Marston
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There might be 67 years between Joe Marston and Bailey Wright but the pair had plenty in common to talk about when they met up in Australia this week.

It was a meeting of Preston North End past and present, Marston a Deepdale star from the 1950s and Wright in the early stages of developing what looks like being a good career.

Marston was the first Australian to play professionally in English football and the first to feature in an FA Cup final.

Should Wright be handed his full international debut in the coming days and weeks, he will become the first North End player to play for Australia since Marston did.

Wright is in the Socceroos provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil.

He took time out from their training camp on the New South Wales coast to meet Marston, 88, in his Umina nursing home.

“It was a pleasure to meet Joe – he’s a true legend of the game and a gentleman too,” said Wright.

Marston is an iconic figure Down Under, the closest thing to football royalty.

The man of the match in the A-League Cup Final is awarded the ‘Joe Marston Medal’ and his face appeared on a book of commemorative stamps a couple of years ago.

APIA Leichhardt – the club in Sydney where Marston started his career and who he later coached – have named their upgraded Lambert Ground after him.

Marston joined Preston on trial in 1950 after his talent had caught the eye of Percy Sewell who had connections with clubs in England.

He started off in the reserves in the right-back position before being switched to centre-half.

His first-team debut came in October 1950 against Barnsley, when he replaced the injured Joe Walton.

Marston was in and out of the side, before in February 1951 starting a run of 191 consecutive games in the No.5 shirt which carried through to April 1955.

Preston won the Second Division title in Marston’s breakthrough season.

They were pipped to the First Division title on goal average by Arsenal in 1952-53.

Marston was in PNE’s 1954 FA Cup final side beaten 3-2 by West Bromwich at Wembley.

In March 1955, he was chosen in the Football League representative side to play the Scottish League at Hampden Park.

His time with the Lilywhites concluded at the end of the 1954/55 season.

Marston returned home to play for Leichhardt and also became skipper of the Australia national side.

An Aussie debut for Wright could come on Monday in a friendly in Sydney against South Africa.

The squad will be cut from 30 to 27 after that game, and then down to 23.

Commenting on Wright, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou, said: “He’s only a young man beginning his career.

“But he has had some really strong consistent form at Preston in a team that has done well.

“It makes sense to have a look at him in a national team environment.”