Former Preston North End and Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson pays tribute to 'top fella' Trevor Hemmings
Mark Lawrenson has paid tribute to Trevor Hemmings, the Preston North End owner being someone he had known for much of his life.
Television and radio pundit Lawrenson was a PNE player in the 1970s when Hemmings' association with the Lilywhites began.
Hemmings joined as vice-chairman at the end of the 1972/73 season - on the board with him was Lawrenson's step-father Tom Gore.
Lawrenson told the Lancashire Post: "Trevor was a top fella.
"There was an occasion when he helped out a charity which I was associated with. Trevor gave the people involved some money and said 'please don't tell anyone it was from me'.
"He didn't want the attention, didn't want the publicity, he just wanted to help out.
"Trevor was very proud of Preston North End and the way he ran it.
"He said to me a few times 'We owe no money to anyone in terms of this football club, there is no debt'.
"I remember him back in the 1970s when he was vice-chairman.
"He would come to the ground, watch the matches and sometimes pop down to the dressing room afterwards for a chat.
"Trevor had a bit more hair then, there was a bit of the older rocker about him - he was good company.
"He loved the club, he loved his horse racing.
"What must not be forgotten too is that he was a very good businessman. He could be ruthless but you don't become a billionaire if you are not ruthless."
Before the pandemic, Hemmings was a frequent visitor to Deepdale, coming during the week for meetings with staff and to watch games on a Saturday.
He would fly in by helicopter from his home in the Isle of Man, Lawrenson recalling a conversation he had with Hemmings about the Isle of Man to Lancashire trip.
"It was just before lockdown, I'd been at one of Preston's games," said Lawrenson who went on to play for Brighton and Liverpool after leaving PNE.
"I was sat in one of the executive boxes in the Invincbles after the game.
"Trevor came in and said '34 minutes'.
"My reply to him was 'What are you on about'?
"He explained that from getting out of bed, out of the house and over on the helicopter that morning, had taken 34 minutes - the quickest time yet!"
Lawrenson accepts it is frustrating for some PNE fans that the Hemmings ownership had not brought Premier League football to Deepdale.
However, there was the legacy of a stable Championship club, clear of external debt.
Said Lawrenson: "If you look at some of the owners these days, they are not just owners they are effectively countries running clubs.
"I know some fans are frustrated that Preston have not been in the Premier League when other clubs in this area have.
"The flip side of that is when you look at what has happened to some clubs locally in terms of their finances, dropping down the divisions and going into administration.
"You get the wrong owner and it can be carnage.
"Trevor would always say to my step-father Tom Gore that he would never let the club sink.
"You can't ask for anymore than that."
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