Dave Seddon’s PNE Press View

Jermaine Beckford celebrates 'after netting the third at Notts County this week
Jermaine Beckford celebrates 'after netting the third at Notts County this week
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You could argue that this is Preston North End’s first sustained automatic promotion push of the social media age.

They flirted with the top two at times last season but were never in those two lofty slots.

So this is the new territory when it comes to North End supporters being able to share their feelings on potential automatic success on Twitter and Facebook.

Fraying nerves, greying hair and a desire to sit in a darkened room until mid-afternoon on May 3 have all been topics of discussion.

During games, one swipe of your phone screen updates us with one another’s feelings, so too events elsewhere involving promotion rivals.

However did we cope in years gone by when PNE were bidding to go up?

Or indeed, how was information shared when things were looking shaky at the other end of the table?

Two events, a fair number of years apart, stand out for me.

The first PNE promotion party I witnessed was as a nipper back in May 1978.

There were two attempts at it then, a pitch invasion after the final game of the season which had ended in a 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury.

The point was not sufficient to take North End up there and then, with eyes and ears having to turn to North Wales a couple of days later.

Back then, there was not this ‘uniform finish on the same day malarkey.

There was an official last day but it was not uncommon for games which had postponed to be rearranged for after then.

Wrexham’s clash with Peterborough at the Racecourse Ground was one such occasion.

The Welsh club were already up as champions and needed to stop Posh winning in order for Preston to pip them to third place.

Many PNE fans made the trip to Wrexham to be honorary Welshmen for the day and were rewarded with a goalless draw which clinched Nobby Stiles’ men promotion.

Back at Deepdale there had been a reserves game the same Bank Holiday afternoon.

They only used to open the Pavilion Stand for the reserves and afterwards, players and fans stayed back in the old Guild Club to wait for news from Wrexham.

Calls were made to the Racecourse Ground on the public payphone for updates and there were the occasional bulletins on the radio.

The final score was phoned through to Deepdale from Wales, prompting celebrations which have lived with me since.

I was six at the time and left the ground later clutching a bookful of autographs and an empty champagne bottle as a souvenir – others had downed the contents, not me!

Can you imagine the clock being wound forward to the present day and having to follow that on Twitter?

Another day which sticks with me was 25 years ago when Preston found themselves dangerously close to the Third Division relegation zone.

Two or three good results seemed to have dug them out of a hole but there was still a chance they could go down if they lost at Shrewsbury on the final day.

Hence more than 3,000 PNE fans, many clad in fancy dress on a boiling hot afternoon, beat a path to Shropshire – the occasion organised by the splendid ‘53 Miles West of Venus fanzine’.

Radio was king that day – it was the only way of keeping in touch with other games.

I recall there needing to be two games to go against North End in order for them to be relegated.

Neither did thankfully, although the number of false scorelines doing the rounds was incredible.

It was a classic example of rumours growing legs, there being little way of finding out scores apart from listening to the radio or later finding a TV screen to peer at.

As we sit down to watch North End’s game with Swindon at Deepdale, info from MK Dons’ tussle at Rochdale will be a click away.

The hope of all Preston fans in this penultimate game of the season and indeed at Colchester, is that the Lilywhites win them and do so by stringing together two good halves of football.

Nerves have been shot to pieces in the Gillingham, Port Vale and Notts County games.

After the draws in those first two, the relief when Jermaine Beckford hammered in the third and decisive goal at Meadow Lane could be felt all the way back in Lancashire.

Going back to Twitter, timelines changed from agony to ecstasy in the moment Beckford put the laces of his left boot through that shot.

I would take two wins in whatever form they come in but how nice would it be to avoid the second-half wobble?