Ex-PNE man’s fair dinkum derby

Michael Conroy played for both PNE and Burnley
Michael Conroy played for both PNE and Burnley
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He may well be tucked up in bed fast asleep when Preston North End kick-off against fierce derby rivals Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.

But Australia-based Michael Conroy will be very interested to find out which one of his old clubs came out on top when he finally awakens from his slumbers on Sunday morning.

Now a resident of Melbourne, in Victoria, after emigrating there around 15 years ago, Conroy is all too aware that it will be four o’ clock in the morning Down Under when the full-time whistle blows.

But as soon as he opens his eyes and rises out of bed, he will be logging on to the internet to check on the final score.

“It’s very difficult to keep totally up to date being over here – the time difference is 11 hours in front,” Conroy said.

“But I will be looking out for the score. I try to stay in touch with what’s going on.

“I know Preston have been a bit up and down over the last few years, with them getting relegated from the Championship but then winning promotion last season.

“I’ve not really heard that much about Preston recently to be honest.

“Over here the Premier League is the be-all and end-all – if you’re not in the Premier League, then you don’t get much publicity.

“Obviously with Burnley getting to the Premier League a couple of times, they have had a lot more publicity down here. I know Burnley have had a good start to this season and are up near the top.

“I saw that they came from 2-0 down to draw at Cardiff in the last five minutes on Saturday and they seem to have the bit between their teeth and are chasing promotion. Preston got a draw against Fulham – the team which I left Preston for – on Saturday.

“There’s no doubt prior to Simon Grayson coming in as manager, Preston were struggling. He got them up and I think they will be looking for consolidation this year.

“The Preston lads will be getting a feel for the Championship because when you’ve been playing in League One, there’s a big difference between the divisions.”

Scot Conroy arrived in Lancashire in 1991 when he was signed by the Clarets from Reading. In his first season at Turf Moor, he scored more than 20 league goals as he helped the club win the Fourth Division championship.

At the end of the following season, Conroy rejected a deal to stay at Burnley in favour of a move to Deepdale under John Beck.

He scored a number of goals for PNE – including the winner over arch-rivals Blackpool in the FA Cup – and also helped the club reach the old Third Division play-off final in 1994, where they lost 4-2 to Wycombe at Wembley.

“Preston and Burnley – they are two big clubs, with rich histories” he said.

“I think if Preston made it to the Premier League, they would fill Deepdale every week.

“If you ask me for a prediction, I would probably have to go for a Clarets win, with them being at home and the form that they are in.

“But it’s a derby – anything can happen and Preston are more than capable of going to Turf Moor and getting a win.”