Dave Seddon’s PNE Press View: Preston North End to be applauded for gesture to Bolton Wanderers staff

Deepdale was named as the 'best away experience' by fans in the Championship, something that shouldn't be used as a stick to beat PNE with
Deepdale was named as the 'best away experience' by fans in the Championship, something that shouldn't be used as a stick to beat PNE with

Preston’s act of kindness in their £2,000 donation to the unpaid staff at Bolton was one which put aside local rivalry at a time of hardship.

Shopping vouchers were sent to Wanderers, a club now in administration and late in paying their staff.

The beneficiaries were not the players, more so the staff behind the scenes without whom a football club simply cannot operate.

None of them will earn a fortune and none of them can afford to be paid late, in fact not know when the next pay-slip will drop.

North End will have been aware of that hardship, they have people doing the same jobs as those down the M61 at Bolton.

It was a gesture not done for publicity, not done to get a pat on the back.

They were reluctant for their identity to get out, far happier when ‘an unnamed Championship club’ was the only clue in the story.

When the good name of Preston North End leaked out, even the statement they released on request from the media didn’t confirm 100% they were the senders – the tone of it being to urge others to rally round.

The Lilywhites have their fair share of critics but not one word of dissent can be aimed in their direction for helping out staff at a fellow club in distress.

Where to point the finger of blame for the mess Bolton are in, is not difficult to do.

However, it is the staff caught up in the crossfire who are suffering and have gone without wages – ticket office staff, admin workers, cleaners, groundstaff, those who work in the hospitality areas.

If Preston’s actions gave them a touch of financial breathing space, then it was worth every penny.

News of the donation came out the day after North End had been recognised for offering the best away day in the Championship.

A friendly welcome, good staff engagement and the use of social media were some of the reasons put forward by the EFL for PNE winning the award at this level.

Doncaster Rovers won the League One award, with Exeter City getting the nod in League Two.

There was disquiet from some Preston supporters about winning this award, feeling away fans get a 
better deal than they do at Deepdale.

Certainly there have been complaints for a good while about aspects of the catering service in the home stands.

And the promised fan zone – an often-raised topic at the biannual supporters’ forums – has failed to 
materialise.

They are certainly issues which need to be looked at – getting the pies at the right temperature and making sure you don’t run out of drinks are the basics.

What I will reason, though, is that the best away-day award should not be a stick to beat PNE with.

See it as a positive that if things are being done right in part of the ground, it can be done everywhere.

Maybe more talking needs to be done there, and the absence of an official supporters’ club does leave a void in communication.

While the welcome mat shouldn’t be rolled out for away teams in terms of the result on the pitch, away fans at any stadium deserve some common decency.

It doesn’t happen at every ground – look at the prices charged by Leeds United for example.

I watched North End a lot away from home in the late 1980s and common decency was a rarity.

The treatment you got at some grounds was dreadful, the fact you were a football fan in the first place being bad enough for some of those in authority.

Thankfully we have moved on from those days but some grounds are still more friendly than others.

Moving to matters on the pitch rather that off it, the Championship play-off 
semi-finals came up trumps this week.

You couldn’t take your eyes off Wednesday night’s offering served up by Leeds and Derby.

Having watched the first leg last Saturday, you would have been brave to have bet against Leeds getting through to the final.

But they imploded in the return game at Elland Road to the extent you could hear the anguish at Sky Sports as their favourites fell.

Every credit goes to Derby for turning things around the way they did, opening the game up so impressively with some attacking intent.

The Midlands derby the night before had seen Aston Villa go through on penalties at West Bromwich’s expense.

I thought Villa were quite poor at The Hawthorns and could not take advantage of Albion going down to 10 men.

However, they held their nerve admirably to win the shootout.

So we have return trips to The Hawthorns and Elland Road next season, but will it be Villa Park or Pride Park missing from the fixture list?

I fancy Villa to win it but Derby’s display at Leeds will fill them with confidence.

In terms of North End’s fortunes against the pair, it is probably best Derby go up.

It is a fair while since PNE beat the Rams – 2008 to be exact – whereas they have done well over the last three seasons against Villa.

You just hope the final can be an exciting one.