Former Preston North End winger Leo Gornall passes away, aged 82

Leo Gornall, a stalwart of the Preston North End Former Players Association, has died at the aged of 82.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 12:30 pm

Gornall was a reserve player at Deepdale in the 1950s before moving on to have a good career in non-league football.

He was on the committee of the former players association for many years, helping it establish itself as one of the strongest such organisations.

For a number of years, Gornall was one of a group of ex-PNE players –including Sir Tom Finney – who used to turn their hand to some vegetable growing and gardening at an allotment plot on Blackpool Road.

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Former Preston North End winger Leo Gornall has died at the age of 82

Gornall, Sir Tom, George Ross, Tommy Thompson and Les Dagger, were among the players who tended the allotment.

They met regularly, tending to the vegetables before having bacon butties cooked on the stove in the hut – one christened the ‘Tommy Thompson Suite’.

Their green-fingered exploits got plenty of media attention, with them even featuring on television.

Speaking in 2017 when the allotment plot was handed back, Gornall said: “Obviously Sir Tom passed on, Les, Tommy and George have all passed on and there is only me left from the lads.

Leo Gornall, stood second right, with members of the PNE Former Players Association at their allotment on Blackpool Road in Fulwood

“Obviously Sir Tom passed on, Les, Tommy and George have all passed on and there is only me left from the lads.

“To be honest, it makes me a little bit sad now when I come down when I think of all the laughs we have had.

“There wasn’t much gardening done at times. We would talk about the old days at North End – they were good times.

“I had a little stove and would make bacon or sausage butties and pass it through the serving hatch.

Leo Gornall in the 'Tommy Thompson Suite' at the allotments

“Granada Reports once did a television feature on us and George came out with the line that Tommy grows it, I cook it and Les eats it.”

Gornall joined PNE as a trainee aged 16 and worked his way up through the 'A' and 'B' teams to play in the reserves.

After leaving Deepdale, the winger played for Netherfield, Lancaster City, Horwich and Great Harwood.

He managed Longridge Town and Garstang, with him also having a stint as player/manager of the PNE Supporters Club which played Sunday League football.

In his retirement, Gornall was a keen collector of PNE memorabilia.

He suffered a stroke in January and had been ill ever since. During his illness the PNE Community and Education Trust sent him a video message from former North End midfielder Graeme Atkinson.

Former PNE and Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson paid tribute to Gornall on Twitter.

Lawrenson wrote: "Very sad to here of the passing of Uncle Leo Gornall......he was a massive PNE man & a great servant to the Former Players Association...RIP LEO....Thoughts are with your family."