Preston North End supporter John Smith looks back on a topsy-turvy season for his club

Players like Callum Robinson must be the envy of all the clubs in the Championship
Players like Callum Robinson must be the envy of all the clubs in the Championship

The best way for me to describe my feelings about our up and down season  which ended yesterday at Brentford is  by using the lyrics of a song sung by  Irish singer Ronan Keating.

He advised that when “Life Is A Rollercoaster,you just got to ride it”.

Although we started the season with an opening day win we were soon on a downward spiral not being able to buy a win from anywhere.

By the time we had reached the end of October, I was convinced that we would be involved in a relegation dog fight following a home draw with Rotherham who I thought were of the weaker sides in a tough uncompromising division.

Two weeks later we began a steady climb with a customary away win at our happy hunting ground of Ashton Gate turning in an away performance to match the high standards of those set during the previous season.

Shortly after this we hammered rivals Blackburn – the new pretenders to our Championship Pride of Lancashire throne and the ride was seemingly getting better as we began to move up the table in an upwards direction . A slight bump occurred around Christmas when the side was ravaged so much by injuries that debuts were handed out to two academy players.

The experience of old head Paul Gallagher was pivotal in holding the young team together and in other seasons his huge contribution during this rocky time would probably have seen him presented with the player-of-the-year award.

However, the consistent form of the outstanding Ben Davies meant that he was the well deserved winner of this year’s trophy. Davies, who always looks composed and assured, is a player I believe has the potential to play in the Premier League and one day could even make the England squad if he continues to improve.

The solid central defensive partnership he has formed with Jordan Storey was one of the biggest pluses of this season’s campaign and also one of the main factors why we went on an unprecedented run of six consecutive away wins which began in January with an emphatic 4-1 win at QPR.

You would have to have been alive in the halcyon days of Tom Finney in the late 1950s to have seen this before and these were a memorable couple of months for the large numbers of the travelling faithful who were enjoying the ride as it gained momentum.

The last of these six wins saw us complete a league double over rivals Blackburn which importantly meant that we would retain the local workplace bragging rights for another season.

The ride reached fever pitch a week later following a last minute home win over Birmingham which was a real hands in the air moment as it put us in within striking distance of the play-offs and ignited dreams of the season ending with a May trip to Wembley - a far cry from October when we were bottom of the table.

However, from this high peak it has been a downward slide since then and before the Brentford game we had only picked up a paltry four points in seven outings.

What is in store for us next season no one knows in this challenging unpredictable league. Millwall and Ipswich both mounted a play-off challenge similar to ours last season but this time around Ipswich finished bottom of the pile and Millwall only just stayed up.

However, Sheffield United have jumped from a 10th place finish last season to a second this time securing an automatic promotion.

An interesting feature of that success being that half of their first team consisted of players who had won promotion from League One the previous season.

Our side still contains young players we have had since our time at that level who have grown and developed together and can only get stronger so it shows what can be achieved if results go your way.

Players like Callum Robinson,Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Alan Browne must be the envy of a lot of other Championship sides and this season’s experience for them and our other younger players should make us a stronger proposition next season

If we can somehow find a quality experienced player this summer to play alongside our promising younger players and do a job similar to what former player-of-the-year Aiden McGeady did two years ago - maybe even McGeady himself - next year’s ride could be even more exciting .