Dinner time at PNE

ormer North End skipper Ian Bryson, PNE general manager Ben Rhodes, ex-PNE striker John Thomas and his wife Lesley
ormer North End skipper Ian Bryson, PNE general manager Ben Rhodes, ex-PNE striker John Thomas and his wife Lesley
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The Preston North End Former Players’ Association honoured the Invincibles at a celebration dinner.

It was held to mark the 125th anniversary of the Football League – with North End the inaugural champions.

Representatives from the 12 founder clubs of the league were invited to attend.

Tommy Thompson and Ian Bryson officially represented PNE, with Shaun Teale there on behalf of Aston Villa.

Bryan Douglas represented Blackburn Rovers and former Preston striker John Thomas was there for Bolton Wanderers.

Derby were represented by Alan Durban and Richie Barker, and Accrington by Alex Smith.

The other six founder clubs – Wolves, West Bromwich, Everton, Burnley, Notts County and Stoke – sent directors and club dignitaries to join in the celebrations.

The Football Association were represented by their 
vice-president Barry Bright.

Former PNE and Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson attended on behalf of Baby Beat, one of the local charities which the evening raised money for.

Fittingly, the event was held in the Invincibles Lounge at Deepdale, with each of the 20 tables named after a North End player from the 1888-89 season.

Comedian Mike King was the compare for the evening, with Peter Holmes of the National Football Museum and North End historian Ian Rigby – who is secretary of the former players’ association – giving talks on the rise of PNE in that era.

Rigby explained that the celebrations had been held back until the end of March to coincide with the anniversary of North End completing the league and FA Cup double.

He said: “The Football League’s 125 year celebrations have been going on during the whole season.

“We wanted to have our dinner as close to March 30 which is the 125th anniversary of North End beating Wolves in the FA Cup final.

“It was a terrific evening with all 20 tables sold out, which was beyond our expectations.

“All 12 founder members were represented, and it was great to see some of them send former players.

“The Football League sent us two VIP tickets for the League One play-off final. We auctioned those off and Mark Lawrenson bought them, which was a great gesture.

“Our association would like to thank everyone who turned up, and to the founder members who sent representatives along.”

The event was sponsored by former PNE director John Garratt and the PFA.

North End’s Invincibles romped to the inaugural league title, winning 18 and drawing four of their 22 matches – finishing 11 points clear of runners-up Aston Villa.

With the league in the bag, they then lifted the FA Cup without conceding a goal.

The FA Cup final was played at the Oval – home of Surrey Cricket Club.

Goals from Jimmy Ross, Sam Thomson and Fred Dewhurst gave them a 3-0 victory over Wolves on March 30, 1889.