During November 1974 Bobby Charlton’s Preston North End were struggling to find any sort of decent form.
A run of four straight league defeats had only been halted by a 5-1 FA Cup replay win over non-league outfit Blyth Spartans at Deepdale.
The next game, on November 30, was a league match against Huddersfield Town in front of the home faithful.
Town were blissfully unaware that a feel-good factor was still running through PNE’s veins from the win against Blyth.
North End laid into their opponents from the first whistle.
Mike Elwiss opened the scoring in the sixth minute after John Bird had headed down a cross into his path.
After the prolonged league points famine, the Preston faithful could hardly believe their eyes as Charlton’s men continued their rip-roaring start.
The Lilywhites surged into a 3-0 lead by the 16th minute as goals from Mel Holden and player-boss Charlton followed Elwiss’ opener.
Charlton’s goal was a joy and had his trademark stamped all over it – a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area.
More chances came, PNE’s play largely orchestrated by young midfielder Alan Lamb.
His passing was a delight to watch, and his control of midfield was outstanding.
Huddersfield attacks were sporadic at best, and when they did manage to get a shot on target, they found Preston keeper Roy Tunks in fine form.
Despite the countless openings created by Lamb and Charlton and some tigerish ball-winning by Nobby Stiles, the sides went in 3-0 at half-time.
Early in the second half North End were awarded a penalty.
Charlton stepped up to take it but saw the spot kick come back off the bar and bounce away to safety.
The crowd had hardly stopped muttering their disappointment when Holden took the opportunity to bury his 16th goal of the season to make it 4-0.
The visitors gamely continued to move forward in an attempt to reduce the scoreline, but it was more than a bridge too far.
All of the North End team was on top form and showing the crowd what they were really capable of after plummeting down the league ladder over the previous few weeks.
Commenting on the attendance of only 7,958, Charlton said: “We will bring the fans back if we continue to win our matches.”
He was right. The crowds did indeed rise as PNE climbed to second spot by early February before falling away in the promotion race.
They finished ninth in the Third Division table.
Preston: Tunks, Fielding, Bird, Sadler, Burns, Lamb Doyle, Stiles (Morley), Charlton, Elwiss, Holden.
*....Ed Skingsley is a lifelong Preston fan who has written four books on North End - ‘A Season To Savour’, ‘Preston North End - The Sixties’, ‘Back From The Brink’ and ‘Preston North End - The Seventies’.