Ex-Preston North End chief Bryan Gray on his memories of Trevor Hemmings
Former Preston North End chairman Bryan Gray has recalled the key role Trevor Hemmings played in getting Baxi involved at Deepdale.
Gray headed the Baxi partnership which breathed new life into the Lilywhites in the mid-1990s.
Three sides of Deepdale were redeveloped under Gray’s watch and the team rose from the bottom tier with within 90 minutes of the Premier League.
Hemmings, who passed away on Monday at the age of 86, had a big role to play in the takeover.
Gray told the Lancashire Post: “Trevor was instrumental in Baxi acquiring Preston North End in 1994.
“When I first became involved in talks, the club was owned by a number of local businessmen.
“Malcolm Woodhouse and Keith Leeming were the principal ones but there were a dozen or so business people who held shares in PNE.
“Trevor got them together and persuaded them to allow Baxi to acquire North End.
“Without Trevor, Baxi would not have taken over at Preston North End.
“That was my initial involvement with Trevor.”
Hemmings kept an involvement with PNE during the Baxi years as a shareholder, the club having been floated on the AIM stock market which allowed fans and investors to buy shares.
Said Gray: “I spoke regularly with Trevor during my time as chairman.
“I always found him very supportive in everything we wanted to do.
“We would discuss our plans with him, such as the building of the new stands.
“When I stepped down as chairman, we still saw one another from time to time and would always have a good chat about Preston North End.”
Gray now lives in Cumbria but keeps track of PNE’s progress.
He was shocked and saddened to hear of Hemmings’ sudden passing in the Isle of Man.
“Trevor will be sadly missed by many people,” said Gray.
“This is such a sad time for his family but I hope they can find strength knowing the work Trevor did and how much he will be remembered.
“I appreciated the support Trevor and his family gave me at Preston North End.”
Hemmings’ involvement at Deepdale went as far back as April 1973 when he joined the board as vice-chairman.
That came at a time of big change in the Deepdale boardroom.
Alan Jones took over as chairman, with Hemmings joined on the board by his associates Michael Johnson and Gerald Brown.
Hemmings was seen as the big figure in the changes, with him underpinning the club’s overdraft facility.
In the years when he didn’t have an official place on the board, he always stayed close to North End.
He had a big individual shareholding in the Baxi years, that continuing when Friends of PNE owned the Lilywhites.
It was in June 2010 that Hemmings launched a bid to buy North End after the club had been served with a winding-up petition by HMRC over unpaid tax.
Enough shareholders sold their stake for him to take up the ownership and Hemmings was at the helm right to the last – he was due one of his regular visits to Euxton on Tuesday.