Former Preston North End midfielder Sean Haslegrave passes away aged 68

Sean Haslegrave setting-off on a 1,500 mile charity walk from Preston to Spain in 2012
Sean Haslegrave setting-off on a 1,500 mile charity walk from Preston to Spain in 2012

Sean Haslegrave, who was a key member of Preston North End’s 1977/78 promotion-winning team, has died aged 68.

The midfielder made 122 appearances in league and cup for PNE between 1977 and 1981.

After Haslegrave retired from playing he went into coaching and for many years was a coach at Cardinal Newman College’s football centre of excellence in Preston.

In 2012, he did a 1,500-mile solo charity walk from Preston to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to raise money to send sick children on a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Haslegrave started his career with home-town club Stoke, before Brian Clough signed him for Nottingham Forest in 1975.

North End swooped for his services in September 1977 and he made his debut in a 2-0 win over Cambridge, setting up a goal for Mick Baxter.

Sean Haslegrave lets fly with a free-kick in Preston's game against Crystal Palace in October 1978 - that was his first goal in PNE colours

Sean Haslegrave lets fly with a free-kick in Preston's game against Crystal Palace in October 1978 - that was his first goal in PNE colours

He played every game to the end of the season as Preston were promoted in third place from Division Three under Nobby Stiles.

When PNE finished seventh in their first season back in the Second Division, Haslegrave played 46 games in league and cup.

Recalling that era in an interview with the Lancashire Evening Post in 2004, Haslegrave said: “That team had fantastic solidarity, smashing players like Ricky Thomson, Steve Doyle, Mike Elwiss, Alex Bruce and the late Mick Baxter.

"Ricky was a class act, while Bruce was a cut-throat striker - he was a great finisher, and I always used to admire his ability in front of goal.

"The Mike Elwiss and Alex Bruce partnership was a special one, and we played some really good football for a couple of seasons.

"We knocked First Division Derby out of the FA Cup 3-0 and thrashed Charlton 6-1 in one of the best team performances I ever played in.

“I had a bushy moustache in those days and the lads used to tease me, saying I looked like an out-of-work Mexican bandit. We had some real laughs at Deepdale.”

Haslegrave left North End in 1981 after the club were relegated, going on to play for Crewe, York and Torquay.

He was in the York side which won the Fourth Division title in 1983/84 with a record points haul.

When Haslegrave joined Torquay, he ended-up as assistant manager to Cyril Knowles.