Preston North End retro - when Bobby Charlton's men played Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup

Preston strikers Mel Holden and Mike Elwiss on the attack against Blyth Spartans in 1974
Preston strikers Mel Holden and Mike Elwiss on the attack against Blyth Spartans in 1974

Preston North End saw off non-league side Blyth Spartans at the second attempt in the FA Cup in November 1974.

Lilywhites front pair Mel Holden and Mike Elwiss did the damage to the plucky Northern League visitors in the first round replay.

Preston player/manager Bobby Charlton has a shot in the FA Cup replay against Blyth Sparatans in 1974

Preston player/manager Bobby Charlton has a shot in the FA Cup replay against Blyth Sparatans in 1974

Holden hit a hat-trick with Elwiss netting twice.

Three days earlier, the sides had draw 1-1 at Croft Park, Holden coming off the bench to score.

That was a venue which PNE player/manager Bobby Charlton had played at in his youth – Charlton had turned out there for Bedlington Grammar School against Blyth Grammar.

The replay attracted a crowd of more than 10,000 at Deepdale and North End could not have asked for a better start as they went ahead in the third minute.

Mike Elwiss heads home for Preston against Blyth Spartans in November 1974

Mike Elwiss heads home for Preston against Blyth Spartans in November 1974

Alan Lamb’s cross from the right eluded Elwiss in the box but fell into Holden’s path who fired home.

It was expected that PNE would push on and ram home their advantage against the part-timers.

However, their play was not crisp and they struggled to find much rhythm for the remainder of the first half.

It took North End until the early stages of the second half to make it 2-0.

Elwiss headed home after Holden’s cross had found him at the far post.

But swiftly, Blyth halved the deficit.

A Francis Burns clearance was picked-up outside the box by the visitors and the ball put back into the middle for Ron Scott to head in.

The game was delicately poised for a while before North End’s superior fitness began to tell.

They went 3-1 ahead in the 76th minute.

Lamb let fly with a shot into a crowded Blyth box which was blocked.

A scramble ensued and Elwiss got to the loose ball just ahead of Holden to prod a shot over the line from close range in front of the Kop.

PNE’s fourth and fifth goals came in the closing minutes as they kept their foot on the gas and took full advantage of Blyth’s tiring legs.

Both goals came from Holden in the box and were the reward for a display full of running and endeavour.

Elwiss was excellent next to him in the attack, with young Stephen Doyle also catching the eye in a central midfield role.

Victory set up a second round tie with another team from the Northern League, Bishop Auckland.

It was one which PNE safely negotiated first time, winning 2-0 – Tony Morley and Charlton scoring.

But their interest in the FA Cup that season ended at the third-round stage, with them beaten 1-0 by Carlisle at Deepdale.

North End were to finish eighth in the Third Division that season.

Charlton, who had come out of playing retirement, hung his boots up for the last time in March 1975.

He was to quit as PNE boss at the start of the next season.


Preston: Tunks, Fielding, Bird (Morley), Sadler, Burns, Lamb, Stiles, Doyle, Charlton, Elwiss, Holden.

Attendance: 10,101