Bryson's praise for spirit of 1996

Camaraderie played a huge part in Preston's title-winning season 20 years ago, according to Ian Bryson.
Preston North End skipper Ian Bryson in 1996Preston North End skipper Ian Bryson in 1996
Preston North End skipper Ian Bryson in 1996

The Scotsman skippered the team in the 1995/96 campaign, playing 44 of the 46 games.

Although talent took them on a fantastic journey that season, so did team-spirit.

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Bryson said: “We were together as a group, there was a real camaraderie.

“It was a good group of lads and we made sure we went out together once a month.

“Even if people didn’t live locally, they made sure they turned out for a night out.

“The 20 years since we won the title has flown by and I’m hoping we can organise some sort of get-together in the summer.

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“Some of the lads still live locally, Graeme Atkinson, Andy Fensome, David Moyes and myself.

“Russ Wilcox came over for the Rainbow House charity dinner at Deepdale the other month, so it was good to see him.

“Andy Saville lives in Hull and I’ve seen him a few times on my travels.”

Reflecting on events 20 years ago, Graeme Atkinson says there was a big expectation on North End that season.

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Atkinson said: “Having missed out on the play-offs against Bury the previous season, we knew there was an expectancy.

“There was the influx of money from the Baxi ownership too.

“As a squad, we knew we were there or thereabouts and we just needed to kick on.

“We didn’t start the season well, losing 2-1 at home to Lincoln City.

“But then we went 21 league games unbeaten, which was a great run.

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“The recruitment had been good, the club were not just bringing in players who had been released by others.

Gary Peters was prepared to spend a bit of money – he brought Andy Saville and Steve Wilkinson in, then Russ Wilcox arrived a few games into the season.

“I knew Sav and Russ from my Hull City days and Gary did ask my opinion of them.

“I’ve got to admit that I was chuffed to be asked – after all I was only a young lad.

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“Gary listened to what I had to say about them and it was nice to see two familiar faces come into the dressing room.

“We signed Dean Barrick from Cambridge soon after he had scored against us.

“The story was that he had talks with Gary Peters straight after that game.

“Neil McDonald came in during the season. For a while we went 4-5-1 with myself and Simon Davey pushed into more advanced midfield roles.”