Retro: Youl Mawene's Preston North End debut on the day Sir Tom Finney's statue was unveiled

Youl Mawene was a proud dad last week when his son Noah signed as a scholar for Preston North End.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 3:00 pm

Mawene Snr played 198 games for PNE, scoring 10 goals, during a six-year stay at Deepdale.

The former defender will be hoping 16-year-old Noah can have a similar fruitful time with the Lilywhites.

It was on July 31, 2004, that Mawene signed for North End on a Bosman, having come to the end of his contract at Derby County.

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His debut was the next day in a pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers.

It wasn’t just any old friendly though, with a special ceremony taking place outside Deepdale before the action on the pitch started.

The Sir Tom Finney ‘Splash’ statue was officially unveiled, the great man himself doing the honours.

Hundreds of supporters gathered to watch the ceremony, Sir Tom then guest of honour in the stand bearing his name to watch PNE take on a Rovers side who were then a Premier League side.

Youl Mawene challenges Blackburn's Dwight Yorke during his first appearance for Preston North End in August 2004
Youl Mawene challenges Blackburn's Dwight Yorke during his first appearance for Preston North End in August 2004

Sir Tom had the job of choosing the Preston man of the match, opting for Chris Lucketti.

But Mawene must have been in his thinking too as he gave North End fans a first look at his talents.

Mawene, Lucketti and Marlon Broomes played in a three-man defence as Craig Brown’s side had one last audition before the start of the 2004/05 season.

Sir Tom’s statue was modelled on the famous ‘Splash’ photo taken of the winger sliding through a puddle on a flooded Stamford Bridge pitch.

Sir Tom Finney after unveiling the 'Splash' statue outside Deepdale before the pre-season friendly against Blackburn in August 2004

Contrast those conditions to this pre-season friendly which was played in sunshine and high temperatures.

The game wasn’t a classic, but that could be said for many friendlies.

North End boss Brown chose a side as close as possible to the one he hoped to pick on the opening day of the season a week later.

He was without Eddie Lewis who was at home in the United States attending a family matter. Graham Alexander was also missing with an injury picked-up in pre-season.

PNE striker David Healy challenges Blackburn defender Dominic Matteo at Deepdale

David Healy went close to scoring early on, the striker collecting a pass from Eric Skora and shooting just wide of the near post.

Rovers scored the game’s only goal in the 19th minute, PNE contributing to their own downfall.

A slack pass from Dickson Etuhu in midfield gifted the visitors possession, the ball worked forward to Jon Stead.

His shot was parried by Andrew Lonergan but fell to Paul Dickov to score. North End had their chances to equalise in the second half, three of them falling to Simon Lynch, who was on as a half-time sub.

Lynch’s best chance came in the 75th minute when he got clear on goal with only keeper Peter Enckelman to beat but lifted a shot over the bar.

PNE: Lonergan, Mawene, Lucketti (Davis 86), Broomes, Skora, Etuhu, O’Neil (McCormack 71), McKenna (A Smith 37), P Smith, Cresswell (Daley 82), Healy (Lynch 46). Subs (not used): Ward, Brown, Langmead.

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