PNE legend McKenna set for Brig debut

Ex-PNE star Paul McKenna
Ex-PNE star Paul McKenna
Have your say

‘One of the biggest signings in the history of the club’ was how Bamber Bridge manager Neil Crowe described the capture of former Preston North End skipper Paul McKenna.

The 36-year-old midfielder signed on the dotted line for Brig late last week and is set for his debut in the NPL First Division North tonight at Northwich Victoria.

Eccleston-born McKenna – who made more than 450 appearances for North End between 1996 and 2009 – has been out of the game since being released by Hull City last summer.

He joined the Tigers in 2011 and helped Steve Bruce’s men build momentum towards their subsequent promotion to the Premier League last year.

Before that, he spent a couple of seasons with Nottingham Forest – a club who paid PNE £750,000 for his services at the age of 31.

His last major role at a Football League club was in the early part of last year when he joined former Preston team-mate Graham Alexander’s Fleetwood Town on loan from Hull.

“It’s a massive signing for Bamber Bridge,” said Crowe, who is a boyhood Preston fan.

“It’s one of the biggest signings in the club’s history.

“He’s a Preston North End legend and I saw him play many times at Preston.

“He’s obviously a great player – you don’t play as many games as he did in the Championship without being a great footballer.

“But he’s only 36-years-old and still pretty fit.”

Crowe revealed he has been keeping tabs on McKenna all summer and is thrilled that he has decided to continue his football career at Brig.

“It was just a chance phone call,” Crowe said.

“We knew he might be available. He had done a bit of pre-season training at Charnock Richard and had played a game for Stockport.

“He did not play at all last season – I think he had a couple of offers but decided to not play. But I spoke to him on the phone – he came down to training on Thursday.

“It’s the first time I have met him and he was down to earth – just one of the lads.

“We had a great session on Thursday. I think he enjoyed it because he decided to sign straight away – he didn’t want to go away and think about it.

“He’s committed himself to us for the rest of the season – he just wants to play football again.”

Brig have had an excellent start to the season. They are currently second in the table after a run of seven games unbeaten.

Matty Kay and Stuart Vasey are set to return to the squad this evening for the trip to Northwich, who are currently in ninth spot in the table.

“Northwich last year were a very good side,” Crowe said.

“When we played them last season, they turned us over at their place.

“Jim Gannon is a very experienced manager and it will be tough.”