Retro game - when PNE played in front of a record low crowd

Wayne Foster slides in to have an attempt on goal
Wayne Foster slides in to have an attempt on goal
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The win which Preston North End achieved against Bury in the Freight Rover Trophy in January 1986 formed only part of the story of the Deepdale clash.

What proved the main talking point was the crowd of just 768 which clicked through the turnstiles.

PNE midfielder Terry Gray tracks a Bury player

PNE midfielder Terry Gray tracks a Bury player

It was the lowest ever for a North End first-team game and remains so.

But there were mitigating factors, the main one being that it kicked-off at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

The floodlight pylons at Deepdale had a few months earlier been condemned as unsafe by the county council.

It meant early afternoon starts for Saturday games so that matches could finish in sufficient daylight.

Goalmouth action from PNE v Bury in 1986 as Dale Rudge looks on

Goalmouth action from PNE v Bury in 1986 as Dale Rudge looks on

However, midweek games provided a huge problem, this the second to be played on a Tuesday afternoon.

A November meeting with Scunthorpe in Division Four had drawn a crowd of 2,007, that a record low attendance for the league.

The Freight Rover Trophy was never going to be much of a pull, this group game played in wintry weather.

It came in a season of dire struggle for Preston, one which would end in the club having to seek re-election.

Nigel Greenwood has a shot at goal against Bury

Nigel Greenwood has a shot at goal against Bury

Opponents Bury had played the previous night in the FA Cup against Reading, hence them fielding a side which was much-changed.

The win was only PNE’s ninth so far that season in all competitions.

North End manager Brian Kidd had made six changes to the side which had lost against Stockport in their previous outing, resting some legs for the league visit to Torquay which followed.

Kidd had been given the opportunity to concede home advantage and for the game to be staged at Bury in the evening, but he wanted it to be played at Deepdale.

There were chances in the first half for Dale Rudge, Bob Atkins and Terry Gray, with the home side on top.

They took the lead just 46 seconds after half-time.

Wayne Foster carved-out the opening, playing in young centre-forward Nigel Greenwood who hammered a shot past Shakers keeper Phil Hughes.

North End doubled their advantage in the 82nd minute from the penalty spot, Greenwood having been fouled in the box.

Vernon Allatt, who had only been on the pitch four minutes as a substitute for Foster, tucked the penalty away to ensure victory.

Only once in the game was the Preston goal threatened, John Platt making a good save from Joe Jakub.

After the game, North End’s secretary Derek Allen admitted the afternoon had been a financial disaster.

Allen said: “By the time we have deducted expenses for match officials, turnstile operators, stewards, police, printing, Bury’s travelling expenses, VAT, there will be little, if any, money left from the game.

“I expect Bury will be looking for a share of the gate receipts but it might be they are disappointed.”

North End: Platt, Jones, Gibson, Welsh, McAteer, Houston, Atkins, Gray, Rudge, Foster (Allatt 78), Greenwood.

Attendance: 786