BIG INTERVIEW: PNE fans and sports cartoonist Bob Bond

One of Bob Bond's earliest recollections of watching his favourite football team Preston North End is not one he likes to recall.
North End supporter Bob BondNorth End supporter Bob Bond
North End supporter Bob Bond

Eight-years-old and sitting on the shoulders of his Uncle Will in the terraces at Deepdale, the youngster watched the action with his fingers covering his eyes as the Lilywhites were put to the sword by arch rivals Blackpool.

The Tangerines – with the imperious Stanley Matthews on the wing – thrashed North End in front of their own supporters that day by a whopping 7-0 scoreline.

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To alleviate the painful memory of his beloved North End being hammered by the Seasiders, Bond has drawn a cartoon strip, poking macabre fun at his team’s expense.

One of Bob's cartoon stripsOne of Bob's cartoon strips
One of Bob's cartoon strips

The illustration is part of a number of pieces of his work which are documented in a new book called “Both Legs Down One Knicker” – the confessions of a sports cartoonist.

While Bond – who hails from Southport – was only a young lad that day when Blackpool ran riot at Deepdale, he would go on to enjoy 50 years working predominantly in the newspaper and comic industry as a 
cartoonist for 
Fleetway Comics.

His work mainly saw him attending football games – from non-league to the top flight of English football – sketching the events unfolding in front of him with a witty narrative to 
accompany it.

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While the PNE fan may wince at his team being destroyed by Blackpool on the final day of the 1947-48 season, he admits witnessing Matthews in full flow was a mesmerising experience for a young boy.

“Blackpool was everyone’s favourite seaside resort. the town with the tower, the zoo, the Golden Mile with its fortune tellers, the illuminations, fish and chips,” he said.

“My uncle took me along to my first big match at Preston. He had a lifetime love for the Lilywhites. I felt him shudder every time the ball hit the back of Preston’s net.”

Don’t despair – there are some bright moments in the book for North Enders – including a 3-2 win over Leeds United as well as 2-1 success over Spurs.

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Bond’s pencil also pays tribute to a virtuoso performance from Sir Tom Finney against Scotland in 1954 which resulted in a 4-2 win for England at Hampden Park.

In it, he depicts Scottish full-back Sammy Cox enduring a torrid time against the PNE legend – drawing a picture of the defender in bed the night after, shouting out in his sleep, ‘It’s Finney, here he comes again’ – much to the chagrin of his sleep-
deprived wife.

The book is partly autobiographical and charts the history of football from the late 1940s through to 1996.

“It traces the game of association football, featuring many of the star players of the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s, and some of the big matches, the changes and evolution of the game in those 50 years following the Second World War,” said Bond, who now lives on the Sussex coast.

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“It’s profusely illustrated, that’s what I think makes it interesting. It’s a cartoon trail through those years and a little bit instructional too for any budding artist/cartoonist who wish to do the same.

“I hope it’s a little bit funny, and will raise a smile or two.

“It’s mainly for the footy fan with the long memory, the one who thinks that

football was better in the good old days.

“The one who believes that Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton and George Best were as good as anyone around today.

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“It’s mainly for dad and grandad as a Christmas present – although the younger fan might get some enjoyment out of it.”

Bond’s career did actually start at the Lancashire Post – or the Evening Post as it was back then.

“I remember the sports editor asking me if I would like to have a go at a match cartoon for Monday evening’s edition.

“Away I went the following day to a match in the Lancashire Combination as it was back then.

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“Sitting in the press box with the other reporters, I picked up snippets of information.

“I watched the game, noted all the important incident.

“Then it would be the train home, all the time constructing the cartoon in my mind.

“It was drawn the same evening and then on the Sunday delivered to the newspaper office... and

I waited. It didn’t appear in the paper.

“‘Not good enough,’ said the editor. ‘Not really funny... and too cruel’.

“I had been very critical

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of one player. I had to admit it was pretty rubbish that first one. But he let me try again.

“The nature of the match cartoon meant it was instantaneous.

“It had to be instant, 
first time. Often I wished I could do it again but time didn’t allow.”