PNE retro game: Snow on Boxing Day 1980 but no goals in Preston's clash with Blackburn at Ewood Park

Snow came to Lancashire on Boxing Day 1980 but it served to only hinder Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers in their derby clash at Ewood Park.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Preston centre-half Mick Baxter challenges Blackburn keeper John Butcher at Ewood Park on Boxing Day 1980, with Howard Kendall covering the post for the home side

There was no feast of football on St Stephen’s Day, with conditions underfoot described as ‘atrocious’ by those in the 17,738 crowd.

It began snowing half an hour before kick-off and continued until midway in the second half.

Out came the orange ball and the teams got on with it the best they could.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Blackburn goalkeeper John Butchers gets ready to take a high ball as Preston striker Steve Elliott closes in

Nobby Stiles took his Lilywhites side to East Lancashire having seen them draw against Wrexham at Deepdale six days earlier.

That share of the spoils ended a four-game losing run for North End.

In fact they went on to draw five in a row which in the days of two points for a win wasn’t a disaster.

PNE boss Stiles had kept an unchanged side from the Wrexham game, with Alex Bruce and Steve Elliott leading the attack.

Preston striker Alex Bruce gets a shot away against Blackburn at a snowy Ewood Park on Boxing Day 1980

North End were backed by a following of around 2,000 fans, their recent form meaning many had kept their money aside for Christmas.

Around 6,000 of their 8,000 allocation for an all-ticket game – something of a rarity at the time – had been returned as unsold.

Rovers lost striker John Lowey – who a few years later had a short spell with Preston – to a groin strain after only seven minutes.

In the first half, Elliott had a shot saved by home keeper John Butcher.

Steve Doyle was prominent in North End’s midfield, the young Welshman doing his best to drive his side on.

He saw a shot disappear over the bar after a cross from Graham Houston had found him in the box.

Bruce had the ball in the Blackburn net but saw the effort disallowed by an offside flag.

In the second half it was Blackburn who looked the more likely side going forward.

North End goalkeeper Roy Tunks was in good form thanfully, pulling off a series of saves to keep the home side at bay.

He made a great double save from Noel Brotherstone at one stage to keep the scoreline level.

That was a big boost for Tunks who had picked the ball out of his net 17 times in the previous six matches.

There were further chances for Andy Crawford and Tony Parkes but North End held on to earn a point.

It was straight back to work the next day for Stiles’ men, with them hosting Notts County at Deepdale.

Games on successive days over Christmas were quite the norm at the time.

The clash with Notts County finished in a 2-2 draw, with Mick Baxter and Steve Elliott (pen) on target.

PNE: Tunks, Taylor, Baxter, O’Riordan, McAteer, Coleman, Doyle, Burns, Houston, Bruce, Elliott. Sub (not used): Bell.