George Ross, a great servant of Preston North End on and off the pitch for more than half a century, has passed away aged 73.
Ross was a North End legend, joining them as a 15-year-old apprentice and going on to have a long and distinguished career at Deepdale.
He played in the 1964 FA Cup final against West Ham at Wembley and was a key member of the 1970/71 Third Division title-winning side.
After retirement from playing, the Scotsman made Preston his home and kept close ties with the club.
He was chairman of the PNE Former Players Association for many years and worked at North End on match days in the hospitality areas.
Ross had worked as normal at Deepdale during Preston’s 1-1 draw with Leeds on Saturday.
North End scouted him playing junior football in his home town of Inverness in 1958.
Although he went on to form a career as a tough-tackling full-back, he played as a striker on the day PNE’s Scottish scout of the time, watched him as a teenager.
He was invited for a two-week trial at North End and impressed sufficiently to be offered a place on the club’s groundstaff, the term used at the time for football apprentices.
Ross was in the PNE youth team which reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 1960 – knocking out Manchester United along the way – losing to Chelsea over two legs, both games played in front of bumper crowds at Stamford Bridge and Deepdale.
He signed professional terms as a 17-year-old and made his league debut on Boxing Day 1960 against Nottingham Forest.
In all, he made 441 league and cup appearances in a Preston shirt, the FA Cup final his obvious highlight despite the 3-2 defeat to West Ham.
Ross joined Southport in the 1973/74 season and went on to have a spell playing in America with Washington Diplomats.
He returned to England to play for Telford and Morecambe before hanging up his boots.
He became chairman of the former players association when the group started up in 1998.
Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Ross found him a warm and friendly man, his Scottish accent never lost despite all his years living in England.
He was a keen golfer and snooker player, playing snooker for St Anthony’s A team in the local veterans league.