Hats on for Gentry Day

PNE fan dressed up for last year's Gentry Day
PNE fan dressed up for last year's Gentry Day
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The Gentry are heading to Brentford again for what could turn out to be a significant game in Preston’s promotion campaign.

North End’s Good Friday visit to Griffin Park has been selected as Gentry Day, when supporters pay their respects to their fellow PNE fans and ex-players who have passed away in the last 12 months.

Brentford currently lead the division by two points and have put together a 19-game unbeaten run in League One.

With the Lilywhites in fourth position, the April 18 clash (3pm) could have major importance in the final shake-up at the top.

It is the same venue for Gentry Day as last season, when 818 North Enders made the trip to West London.

Organisers considered some other away games – Oldham, Swindon and Bristol City – but chose Brentford after advice.

A spokesman said: “We appreciate that with it being on Good Friday and the distance of the fixture, it may not be ideal for everyone.

“But due to the way the fixtures have fallen and following advice given to us, a number of other options had to be ruled out.

“We are sure that all supporters appreciate the significance of the day and will support it, even if this match would not have been your first choice.

“The best Gentry Days have been in London, and we hope that this one could be extra special as the promotion charge continues.”

North End supporters were christened ‘The Gentry’ by Alan Ball Snr when he was Preston manager in the early 1970s.

After an away game at Plymouth, Ball was asked by the press for a comment about the level of support that day.

Ball said: “Preston fans are the best, they are the gentry.”

That comment led to some PNE supporters wearing bowler hats, striped suits and ties for games.

In 2005, the Preston Supporters’ Group arranged the ‘Return of the Gentry’ in honour of John Tracey – an original member of the Gentry – after his death.

That took place at Queens Park Rangers, and it has been an annual event since 2008.

Charlton, Newcastle, Hull and Sheffield Wednesday have all been venues for Gentry Day.

Preston’s travelling support has been impressive this season, with big numbers at a number of games.

The largest turn-out was for Wolves last month, with 3,464 making the trip to Molineux.

For the FA Cup visit to Nottingham Forest, 2,055 travelled, while there were away-end sell-outs at Carlisle (1,773) and Shrewsbury (1,598) over Christmas.

On Saturday, 1,797 Preston fans were at Prenton Park to watch the 2-1 win over Tranmere. That was the biggest away attendance at Rovers this season, and was the second highest of the weekend in League One.