Behind the scenes at PNE

Gary Dobson (left) and Dave Galeney keep Deepdale in working order
Gary Dobson (left) and Dave Galeney keep Deepdale in working order
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In the words of Preston North End maintenance technician Gary Dobson, the recent FA Cup clash with Manchester United was akin to a visit from the Queen.

The football world had its eyes on Deepdale for a couple of hours, the stadium packed to capacity and looking resplendent under the floodlights.

Once the ‘State visit’ was over, the ground had emptied and quiet descended over Deepdale, the PNE maintenance team headed home to bed.

But their peace was shattered within an hour when they got the call to get back to Deepdale.

“The maintenance team left the ground at about 12.30am once everyone had gone and the usual checks had been done,” said Dobson’s colleague Dave Galeney.

“I got in bed at 1am but then at 2am my phone went and it was Paul Bradley, the stadium manager here.

“A fire alarm was going off in the Alan Kelly Town End and we needed to see what was causing the problem.

“What had happened is that beer had been thrown about in the concourse at half-time and before the game, also ketchup and brown sauce had got squeezed from bottles and ended up on the walls.

“Slowly, during the course of the evening and night, it had all dripped down and got into the smoke detectors.

“It was causing faults which set off the alarm and we were there until 4am disabling that zone and sorting it all out.

“I got back home and back to bed at 4.30am, then had to be up for 6.30am!”

Putting right faulty alarms, repairing broken seats, stemming floods and plunging blocked toilets are just some of the jobs faced by Galeney and Dobson .

The reason Deepdale looks so spick and span on a match day is down to them and others whose work largely goes unnoticed behind the scenes.

Dobson said: “We have the stadium to look after, the Minerva health centre, Heartbeat, Finney’s Bar, the training ground and the place where the youth team lads live.

“We also do a bit of work at UCLan and Chorley FC, so we are kept busy.

“The jobs which we do 
vary – it can be electrical, plumbing, joinery, repairing seats…anything really.

“The other week before a game I got covered in something very unpleasant from a blocked toilet in the old museum area which was being converted into the Heartbeat centre.

“I was bent over the bowl trying to unblock it, the water came over the top and I think you can imagine the rest!

“But jobs like that have to get done.”

Dobson joined the North End staff in July 2010, having worked previously at Leyland Motors and BTR in 

It was in February last year that Galeney, a joiner by trade, began work at Deepdale, one of his previous jobs having been maintenance manager at the Camelot theme park in Charnock Richard.

He points to the United cup tie as being the highlight of his time on the staff to date, colleague Dobson likening it to royalty visiting.

“It was like a visit from the Queen,” said Dobson.

“We were getting calls from people who had never been to a match, wanting tickets.”

Galaney said: “One of my jobs at half-time in a match is to go out and change the ‘next game at Deepdale’ boards outside the ground.

“When I changed it to Manchester United, it was quite a proud moment.

“It wasn’t necessarily a busier night when we played United – there can be a relatively low-key game where you are kept busy by problems.”

Overseeing the maintenance team is stadium manager Paul Bradley, a Deepdale stalwart and lifelong PNE fan.

Said Galeney: “Bradders is the conductor and we are the orchestra. It is a strong team, we all muck in.”