This has been a good week to indulge in some Preston North End nostalgia, given the current season has hit the buffers.
On Tuesday, it was 30 years since PNE clinched promotion from the Fourth Division with a win against Orient – they had dropped the ‘Leyton’ tag at the time.
Then on Thursday came the 21st anniversary of the Third Division title being won at Hartlepool.
Slightly more recently, it was 17 years on Monday just gone that North End won promotion and the Second Division title despite losing at Cambridge.
It is the games at Orient in 1987 and Hartlepool in 1996 that link to events of the present day.
Those clubs – Orient now back as Leyton Orient – head into the weekend propping up the Football League.
The O’s time as a league club has but just a week to run, their relegation to the National League confirmed last Saturday.
Hartlepool could well join them having dropped into the relegation zone.
We all heard Jeff Stelling have his say on the subject of Pools’ plight and a day later they had sacked Dave Jones as manager – the power of Soccer Saturday eh?
What has gone wrong at Hartlepool, I’m not too sure but Leyton Orient’s woe has been well documented.
They are on their fifth manager of the season and staff only received March’s wages this week.
It is fair comment that owner Francesco Becchetti has made a right pig’s ear of running the place.
Three years ago, they reached the League One play-off final at Wembley, beaten on penalties by Rotherham.
In October of that 2103/14 season, Preston became only the second team to beat them thanks to a superb volley from Joe Garner – an away day which more than 1,000 PNE fans enjoyed.
Their decline should be a worry to the wider football community, not just those who support Orient.
What checks are in place for prospective owners of football clubs?
The current ‘fit and proper’ owners test used by the EFL is flimsy to say the least.
Look at what happened at Morecambe earlier in the season with regard their ownership – a matter still to be resolved in the courts.
The football authorities need to get a sharper pair of teeth when it comes to clubs acquiring new owners.
Vigorous financial checks need to be made and probing questions asked as to the suitability of potential owners to run a club.
No owner is going to be perfect but better checking at the start of any purchase process could avoid the heartache and stress seen too many times.
After harping back to PNE’s triumphs on Orient and Hartlepool soil, it would be amiss of me not to add a few recollections.
I didn’t get to East London in 1987 – revision for ‘O’ Levels kept me at home.
But 2,500 North Enders did make it to Brisbane Road to see Gary Brazil and Les Chapman score in a 2-1 win.
After the match player/assistant manager Chapman delivered the superb ‘I’m feeling 53 miles west of Venus’ quote when asked for his thoughts on promotion.
Nine years after that, there was a second North End promotion party held at Brisbane Road.
An Andy Saville double gave PNE a 2-0 win and, bar a mathematical miracle, sent them up from Division Three.
A week later, it was off to Hartlepool where another 2-0 victory made certain of promotion – and wrapped up the title for good measure.
I was at both those games in 1996 and loved them, hence why the predicament faced by Orient and Hartlepool somewhat rankles.
Hartlepool’s survival hopes depend on getting above Newport, a side on the up since Graham Westley’s departure.
If Mike Flynn keeps the Welsh club up, he deserves a knighthood – they were 11 points adrift of safety when he succeeded Westley – once of this parish – in March.
Last week was the first time they had been out of the bottom two since November.
Flynn was a player at Wigan when I covered them for the Post’s sister paper in the Land of Pie.
An unlikely candidate to be a manager, a recollection I have of Flynn is of him dangling team-mate Jimmy Bullard head first just inches above a concrete patio at Wigan’s training ground!
Returning to PNE, and the task this weekend is to get back to winning ways after the run of four defeats.
The Newcastle reverse was the latest one, Preston very much the sideshow at the Magpies’ promotion party.
I won’t dwell on events at St James’ Park except to say that Paul Gallagher had nothing to apologise for over his red card for handball – he did what any player would have done.
More than 500 North End supporters made the trip on a fan-unfriendly Monday.
I tip my hat to one of them, Ian McIver, who cycled the 140 miles to Tyneside.
Surely he didn’t have to lug his bike up to the away section in the top tier?