New Preston North End keeper Connor Ripley’s past Deepdale link

Preston goalkeeper Connor Ripley
Preston goalkeeper Connor Ripley

Connor Ripley might only have signed for Preston last week but the goalkeeper has a link to Deepdale going back several years.

Ripley, 25, became PNE’s fourth signing of the transfer window when he joined from Middlesbrough.

Football runs in the family, his dad Stuart having been a winger for Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers.

Older brother Josh had a spell training with North End during Billy Davies’ reign as manager – and Davies was also their next-door neighbour back in the day.

Bearing in mind his dad won a couple of England caps as an outfield player, it begs the question how did Ripley end up wearing the gloves?

Ripley told the Post: “My brother Josh put me in goals when I was a kid.

“He was a good player and trained with Preston when Billy Davies was the manager.

“Billy actually used to live next door to us.

“After being a keeper for a bit I then started playing as a striker and liked that.

“My dad then told me very bluntly that I wasn’t good enough to be a striker!

“But he also told me he thought I was good enough to be a keeper and to stick with it.

“That has probably been the best advice dad has ever given me.

“He comes to see me play and is my agent, along with Lee Matthews.”

Ripley was on the bench for PNE’s 1-1 draw with Swansea last Saturday.

This season he had been playing at Accrington where he was on loan from Boro.

With just a day’s training under his belt prior to the Swansea game, North End boss Alex Neil opted not to throw him straight in.

Ripley featured in a bounce game against Salford at the training ground on Tuesday to get some match practice and is steadily finding his feet.

“Any player will tell you the same, the first few days at a new club is about learning the routine and everyone’s names,” said Ripley.

“You get to know the lads sat near you in the changing room and work from there.

“Obviously I’ve got to know the other goalkeepers well.”

After going out on loan eight times from Boro, Ripley felt the time was right to put down permanent roots.

North End’s interest had been there for a while, not just in the build-up to his move.

Said Ripley: “Ideally I would have looked for a permanent move a few years ago.

“After I’d been on loan at Oldham I thought I would push for a place at Boro.

“That didn’t happen and I went out on loan again.

“I found out that there was interest from Preston in the summer.

“It was perhaps a case of seeing how I did at Accrington and working from there.”