Dream year for PNE youngster

Josh Brownhill
Josh Brownhill
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Teenage midfielder Josh Brownhill has been reflecting on his meteoric rise through the ranks at Preston North End last season, which resulted in him signing his first professional contract.

Just 17 years old at the time, Brownhill – now aged 18 – had a debut to remember for the Lilywhites in October at Gillingham, as he scored the winner in a 2-1 victory.

The midfielder, who had already made two substitute appearances in the first team, went on to feature on 27 further occasions during the remainder of the season as North End narrowly missed out on promotion to the Championship.

As Brownhill enjoys a little downtime before the start of pre-season, he took a moment to reflect on his rise through the ranks.

And he admits a tingle still runs down his spine when he remembers his first goal in North End colours, especially as his parents were in the stands to share the moment with him.

“I could not ask for anything better on my debut,” Brownhill told the Evening Post.

“To score in front of my family which won us the game, was just great for me and the team.

“My mum was recording bits of the game and when I scored, I ran towards them and I could see my dad was crying – that’s how proud he was.

“That was great for me to see because they’ve worked so hard.

“When I was growing up, my dad would take me all over the place to games and pick me 

“It was just special that they were at the game to see it.”

Indeed, Brownhill’s parents travelled the 200-plus miles to Kent from their Warrington home not knowing whether their son would feature or not.

“It was a hour-and-a-half before kick-off – that’s when I found out I was starting,” Brownhill said.

“We travelled down to Gillingham and nobody knew what the team was.

“I did not think I would be in it, so when the manager named the team, it was a complete shock.

“I just focused on the game and tried to get my head right. There was no time for any nerves.”

Brownhill’s initial taste of first-team action was as a 75th-minute substitute in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy 2-0 defeat to Oldham at Deepdale a couple of weeks earlier.

He said: “I think I had trained a couple of times with the first team that week and at the end, the manager told everyone what time to meet at the ground for the game.

“I had to ring one of the youth team managers up and ask them if that meant me 

“He said that the manager had not said anything different to him and that I should go to the game.

“I did not expect to be on the bench especially as you only have five subs in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“That took me completely by surprise and when he shouted my name to say I was going on – I was just in shock.”