Big night for Brig’s trio of ex-PNE men

Bamber Bridge midfielder Paul McKenna will face his old club Preston
Bamber Bridge midfielder Paul McKenna will face his old club Preston
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Preston North End and Bamber Bridge lock horns for their long-running annual friendly on Tuesday night, with the game having extra significance for three of the Brig squad.

Paul McKenna, Jon Macken and Brett Ormerod all pulled on the PNE shirt during their full-time careers.

Midfielder McKenna served the Lilywhites from apprentice right through to the age of 31, making 470 appearances.

In that time at Deepdale, he twice came within an ace of the Premier League and was also awarded a testimonial season for his long service.

Eccelston-based McKenna landed at Brig last season and played a key role in them reaching the play-offs.

Macken had almost five years with North End before a then club-record sale of £5m took him to Manchester City.

Like McKenna, he was part of Preston’s 2000 Second Division title-winning squad and was in the side which reached the play-off final the following year.

Macken came out of retirement to join Brig towards the end of last term – a chat with McKenna when they were watching PNE’s FA Cup tie with Manchester United the spark for that move.

Last Thursday, Ormerod put pen to paper on a season’s deal at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

He made his Brig debut in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Altrincham.

Ormerod had three years with Preston, one of 10 clubs he served in his career.

The striker’s first season in the club’s colours ended in agonising fashion.

He broke his leg in five places in the play-off semi-final defeat to Leeds at Deepdale in May 2006.

Ormerod, 38, spent much of last season with Padiham, and Brig boss Neil Crowe regards him as a striker who can score the goals necessary to see the club challenge again for promotion from the NPL First Division North.

Preston’s visit is traditionally a big part of Brig’s build-up to the season, both financially and in football terms.

Crowe said: “I’m looking forward to North End coming here – it is the highlight of the pre-season. I’m a Preston fan myself and it is great to have them down here.

“I went to Wembley in May to watch the play-off final and what a day that was.

“The game is a always a big boost for us financially and hopefully there will be a big crowd here.”

There will also be a family link when Brig and PNE meet, father and son being in opposition. Steve Thompson – appointed first-team coach at Preston earlier in the month – will be in the visitors’ technical area.

His son Curtis Thompson is in Brig’s squad, the midfielder having rejoined the club last season after a short stint with Skelmersdale.

North End will approach the game in the same way they did at Chorley on Saturday.

Simon Grayson intends to change all 10 outfield players at half-time.

Admission is £7 for adults, £4 for concessions, while Under-12s are free if accompanied by a paying adult.

Meanwhile, PNE Legends and Bamber Bridge Legends will meet in a charity game at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Sunday, August 2.

The game (2pm) will raise money for the Gary Parkinson Trust, Derian House and Baby Beat. Afterwards, some of the players will take part in a forum in the bar.