Gentry Day a huge success

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The ‘Gentry’ travelled in large numbers and were in good voice as Preston drew 1-1 with Barnsley at Oakwell. It was the ninth Gentry Day and the best supported yet.

You could not buy a bowler hat for love nor money in Preston by Saturday morning, all available ones by that time being perched on the heads of fans travelling to Oakwell.

North End fans at Oakwell on Saturday

North End fans at Oakwell on Saturday

This was the ninth time that North End supporters had celebrated Gentry Day and the clash with the Tykes was the best turn-out yet.

The official number through the turnstiles was 2,972, a few less than the unofficial figure of 3,069 which PNE’s police liaison officer had tweeted.

Whichever figure you went with, it was the highest Preston away following of the season, beating the 2,844 who went to Rochdale in November.

Bowlers and pin-striped suits were the fashion items of the day in a bid to recreate the Gentry era of the early 1970s.

Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson was bowled over by the support for his side who took another point in their quest for automatic promotion from League One.

Grayson said: “It was a great following and it was fantastic to have that many supporters making so much noise.

“That contributed to a great atmosphere. I’m just disappointed we did not get the win to send the fans home in even happier mood.”

North End sent a fleet of 17 coaches across the Pennines, with other fans hiring their own buses for a day out.

One supporter took the ‘on your bike’ phrase literally, Roop Singh – a winner last year on quiz show Deal or No Deal – cycling from his home in Leeds.

The first Gentry Day was held by supporters in February 2005 at Queens Park Rangers.

It has been an annual event since 2008. Saturday’s 1-1 draw was an improved result on previous seasons, the last five Gentry Days having ended in defeats to Newcastle, Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford (twice).

For a decent section of the game, it looked like Joe Garner’s goal eight minutes before half-time might prove sufficient for three points.

But Jabo Ibehre came off the bench to level for Barnsley.

The Gentry can be traced back to October 1970, a general consensus being that Alan Ball Snr made his ‘Preston fans are the best, they are the Gentry’ remark after a 1-0 defeat at Halifax.

That 1970/71 season saw Ball lead PNE to promotion from the old Third Division, pipping Fulham to the title.

Those who made Saturday’s trip will hope for a promotion party this May.