PNE Legends match will honour two knights

Graeme Atkinson in action for the PNE Legends side in 2015
Graeme Atkinson in action for the PNE Legends side in 2015
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The football rivalry between Preston and Blackpool will be renewed this weekend when players of yesteryear pull on their boots for a legends game.

It takes place at Thornton Cleveleys FC on Sunday, with the teams competing for the Knights Trophy – named in honour of the clubs’ revered footballing knights Sir Tom Finney and Sir Stanley Matthews.

Ex-PNE winger Graeme Atkinson has been tasked with putting the North End team together.

A busy time on the phone and sending texts has resulted in some big names from the past 
agreeing to turn out.

Barry Nicholson, Chris Sedgwick, Neil Mellor, Lee Ashcroft, Lee Cartwright, Ian Bryson, Andy Fensome and Warren Beattie are among those set to pull on the white shirt once again.

Striker Ashcroft plays on a regular basis in his player/manager role at Longridge Town, with winger Cartwright turning out for Haslingden St Mary’s.

Atkinson, education 
manager for PNE’s Community and Education Trust, will be joining them and hopes to add a few more names as the week goes on.

“I’ve spent plenty of time on the phone getting hold of people,” said Atkinson, who was in the PNE side which won the Third Division title in 1995/96.

“It should be a good game and we all enjoy a run about now and again.

“There are some good lads from down the years who will be playing and hopefully we can get the right result.”

PNE will be looking to keep hold of the Knights Trophy, having beaten Blackpool 2-0 at Bamber Bridge’s Sir Tom Finney Stadium in Ocotber 2015.

Atkinson played in that game, with Paul McKenna, Jon Macken, John Thomas, Matt Hill and David Lucas among those to feature that day.

The Knights Trophy was donated by Barton Grange for the 2015 game.

Blackpool’s team is being put together by John Cross, who is a co-ordinator for the Blackpool Former Players 
Association.

Scott Taylor, Dave 
Windridge and Danny Coid are among those expected to turn out for the Seasiders.

Cross said: “We played Preston two years ago at 
Bamber Bridge and lost 2-0.

“We can’t have Preston keeping the trophy.”

Admission to Sunday’s game, which kicks off at 3pm, is free but donations to the event’s charitable causes will be taken.