PNE’s ‘Class of 2015’ breaking up

Wembley winners two years ago
Wembley winners two years ago
Share this article

Jermaine Beckford’s exit from Preston continues the slow break-up of the team which won at Wembley almost two years ago.

Beckford is the fifth player from the League One play-off final starting XI to leave and the 10th from the squad on duty that day.

The striker was freed by PNE last week and on Friday, joined Bury.

Keeper Sam Johnstone was the first of the XI to go, having been on loan from Manchester United.

The first outfield starter to depart was Neil Kilkenny, the midfielder released 12 months ago.

He returned Down Under to sign for Melbourne Town and won their player of the year award earlier this month.

Joe Garner left for Rangers last August, then in January Bailey Wright joined Bristol City.

Beckford – hat-trick hero at Wembley – was released with his contract ending next month.

Of the substitutes in the 4-0 win over Swindon, Kevin Davies, Scott Laird, Kyel Reid, Thorsten Stuckmann and Chris Humphrey have left.

Alan Browne, who came on for Paul Gallagher in the first half, and Jordan Hugill – an unused sub – remain with PNE as first-team regulars.

Beckford, 33, did not let the grass grow under him after being informed of his release this summer.

He has agreed a two-year contract with Bury which keeps him in the region.

On Saturday, Beckford was at the Leeds Arena to watch Josh Warrington beat Kiko Martinez to retain the WBC International featherweight title.

Beckford did the ring walk with the Leeds fighter, carrying Warrington’s title belt.

North End boss Simon Grayson, a good friend of Warrington, was also at the bout.

Beckford will be hoping to pick up his form at Bury after failing to hit the heights of Wembley with North End.

He missed much of the 2015/16 season with a serious knee injury initially suffered during pre-season.

After starting this season in the team, a torn hamstring sidelined him for the best part of two months.

Beckford was sent off two games running in December, the first time for fighting with team-mate Eoin Doyle.

Three minutes into his first game back from a ban, he was red-carded for kicking out at Leeds defender Kyle Bartley.

His last game in a Preston shirt was as a substitute at Wolves on the final day.