Former Preston North End favourites enjoy nostalgia dinner

John Smith, Roy Tunks, Alex Bruce, Ricky Thomson and Mike Elwiss from the 77/78 promotion side
John Smith, Roy Tunks, Alex Bruce, Ricky Thomson and Mike Elwiss from the 77/78 promotion side

Preston North End Former Players’ Association held their 21st annual dinner at Deepdale.

The popular event was held in the Invincibles Lounge, with fans mixing with North End favourites from the down the years.

Duncan McKenzie, Eric Jones and Lea Roberts at the PNE Former Players' Association annual sportsman's dinner

Duncan McKenzie, Eric Jones and Lea Roberts at the PNE Former Players' Association annual sportsman's dinner

Former Everton, Leeds, Chelsea and Blackburn striker Duncan McKenzie, and comedian Lea Roberts – a former Halifax RL scrum-half – were the guest speakers, with Mike King the night’s compère.

McKenzie famously signed for Leeds from Nottingham Forest during Brian Clough’s ill-fated 44-day reign at Elland Road in 1974.

The evening opened with an address from association chairman Peter Sayer, who played in PNE’s midfield in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Among the former players to attend were those from the North End squad which won promotion from the old Third Division in 1977/78 .

Former PNE players Eric Potts and Eric Snookes (photos; Kevin McGuinness)

Former PNE players Eric Potts and Eric Snookes (photos; Kevin McGuinness)

Forty years on from that fantastic season, Alex Bruce, Mike Elwiss, Roy Tunks, Ricky Thomson and John Smith were all in attendance.

Bruce and Elwiss formed a lethal partnership up front that season, Bruce scoring 30 goals and Elwiss’ form next to him attracting a big-money bid from Crystal Palace which saw him move to London after promotion was achieved.

Other ex-players to attend included Steve Elliott, Graeme Atkinson, Eric Snookes, Eric Potts, Eric Jones, Graham Houston, Leo Gornall,Harold Sandalls and Mel Tottoh.

A charity auction raised money for a number of local causes.

Among the items up for auction was a Barcelona shirt signed by Lionel Messi, which not surprisingly attracted the biggest bid of the night.

A signed North End shirt also proved popular, as did an Everton goalkeeper’s jersey signed by Jordan Pickford.

The PNE Former Players’ Association came into being in January 1998.

It was set up by lifelong Preston fan Ian Rigby who is secretary of the association.

The sportsman’s dinner is their big night of the year but the association remains busy at other times by staging golf days and a bowls tournament.

The association has around 220 members worldwide, with membership open to those who have played at first-team, reserves or youth level.