Memory match: North End v Wolves

A carnival night as Preston supporters stand on the Town End for the last time
A carnival night as Preston supporters stand on the Town End for the last time
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Preston’s clash with Wolves at Deepdale in March 2001 saw them bid farewell to an old and loyal friend – the Town End.

The Wednesday night clash was the last match to have supporters stood on the terrace before the bulldozers moved in.

Its demolition was the third stage of the ground’s redevelopment, with the Sir Tom Finney Stand and Bill Shankly Kop having already gone up.

The Town End had stood at the south end of Deepdale for 97 years.

Since 1993, it had been home for PNE’s noiser fans, John Beck having worked with supporters’ groups to persuade the board to allow them behind that goal.

Before that, it had been the away end for quite a time, a metal cage dividing it in two.

Often, the larger section towards the West Stand would house only a couple of hundred of travelling fans.

A visit by Torquay early in the re-election season had seen single-figures of away supporters, a waste of a very decent stand.

By 2001, the time had come to bid farewell to it and continue the rebuild of PNE’s famous home.

Progress was swift on that front – by the time Preston met Birmingham in the play-off semi-final two months later, that end of the ground was totally level.

Wolves’ visit was their first to this neck of the woods for 12 years.

There was a crowd of 15,457 inside Deepdale for the game which doubled as a farewell party.

North End made sure they bade farewell to the bricks, mortar and iron sheeting on a winning note.

Goals from Paul McKenna and Richard Cresswell gave them a 2-0 victory.

It was their sixth win in eight matches and lifted them into sixth place after two clubs previously above them had lost the night before.

For Wolves – under the stewardship of former PNE defender Dave Jones – it was a third defeat in four games.

The Town End’s last stand was a boisterous one, with the volume raised.

North End went into the game having been beaten just once in their seven games.

The early stages of the contest were mainly played in midfield, skipper Sean Gregan, Mark Rankine and McKenna steadily getting a grip on proceedings for PNE.

Lee Cartwright’s shot from 20 yards which Wolves goalkeeper Michael Oakes palmed behind, was the first chance of the game.

Towards the end of the first half, Michael Jackson came to the hosts’ rescue, hooking a chip from Michael Branch clear from under the bar.

That let-off inspired PNE to go straight down the other end and take the lead.

Ex-Wolves man Rankine played McKenna clear, with the local lad rifling a rising shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Wolves almost equalised after an hour, George Ndah’s pass finding its way through to Adam Proudlock just six yards out.

He hesitated in shooting, allowing North End to scramble the ball away.

Cresswell, signed on loan from Leicester after a long pursuit by David Moyes, was given his Preston debut as a 73rd-minute substitute.

He replaced David Healy and within five minutes, had doubled the lead.

Cresswell, who had first caught Moyes’ eye when with York, exchanged passes with Jon Macken before running clear and shooting low past Oakes.

The home crowd roared its approval at Cresswell’s goal, the beginning of a profitable few years for the striker in a Preston shirt.

After the final whistle, the players came out to applaud the Town End one last time, marking the end of an era.