Preston North End and Middlesbrough supporters will unite as one in the second minute of Sunday’s clash to honour a player who served both clubs.
Gary Parkinson wore the No.2 shirt for both PNE and Boro and is special guest at Deepdale for the opening game of the season.
Parkinson has suffered from locked-in-syndrome following a brain stem stroke in September 2010.
The former right-back requires round-the-clock care but football still provides him with a huge amount of enjoyment.
This will be Parkinson’s visit to Deepdale since the stroke and fans are being asked to applaud in the second minute of the game to mark the occasion.
North End boss Simon Grayson said: “Parky was the youth-team coach at Blackpool when I was manager there.
“Steve Thompson and myself used to beat Parky and Phil Horner at head tennis after training.
“It is great that Parky is coming back to Deepdale this weekend because he is regarded highly by fans of both clubs.
“I’m not sure who he will want to win because Parky holds both clubs close to his heart.
“It is a tragedy what has happened to him and I know that a lot of fund-raising exercises have been done to make his life more comfortable than it was.
“He has great support from his family and I’m looking forward to seeing them all at Deepdale.”
Parkinson joined Boro in January 1986, returning to the area after being on Everton’s books as a junior.
He went on to make 265 appearances for the Teesside outfit, winning three promotions.
Parkinson was in the Boro squad which played in the inaugural season of the Premier League.
Spells at Bolton and Burnley followed, with him then joining North End before the start of the 1997/98 campaign.
He went on to make more than 100 appearances in a PNE shirt and had it not been for a cruciate ligament injury, there would no doubt have been many more.
Parkinson found the net eight times during his time at Preston, three of those goals particularly standing out.
His thunderous free-kick in a 3-1 defeat away to Watford was something to behold.
He found the net from 30 yards in a 3-3 thriller with Blackpool at Deepdale.
Then in October 1998, Parkinson was the man on the spot for Preston against Manchester City.
A crowd of more than 28,000 were inside Maine Road for a Monday night clash, City very much the big boys of the division.
Parkinson hit the game’s only goal, scoring from the penalty spot past City keeper Nicky Weaver.
In an interview with the Evening Post in 2004, Parkinson recalled: “I put everything out of my mind, except hitting the back of the net.
“ I knew if I scored it would be the first time in 40 years North End had won at Maine Road.
“It was just one of those moments, and Weaver was just saying, ‘Can you deal with it Parkinson, have you got the bottle lad? How’s your nerve? I know which way you’re going to kick it’.
“He was chirping away, as most goalkeepers do when you have a penalty, but I couldn’t even look at him.
“I put the ball down and battered it in to the top corner and thousands of Manchester City fans fell silent.”
Parkinson tore his cruciate ligament later that season playing against Chesterfield.
He returned to action more than a year later as a sub in North End’s final game of the 1999/2000 season, by which time they had won the Second Division title.
The defender was to leave Deepdale to join Blackpool for £20,000 in March 2001.
He left Bloomfield Road in 2002 but returned as youth team coach in 2006.
Other players have also worn the shirt of both PNE and Boro.
Charlie Wayman had a superb scoring record during his four years with Preston.
The striker scored 116 goals in 171 games, four of them coming in the first half of a game at Queens Park Rangers on Christmas Day, 1950.
He joined Middlesbrough in 1954, netting 31 goals in two seasons.