The one and only PNE win at Wembley

Preston skipper Tom Smith parades  the FA Cup at Wembley in 1938
Preston skipper Tom Smith parades the FA Cup at Wembley in 1938
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Preston North End’s trip to Wembley on Sunday will be the seventh in their history.

They have previously been to four FA Cup finals, a League War Cup final and a play-off final.

Just once have North End come home triumphant, that the 1938 FA Cup final win over Huddersfield when George Mutch scored from the penalty spot in the dying seconds of extra time.

The hope of all PNE fans is that a second Wembley victory can be achieved against Swindon in this weekend’s League One play-off final.

Preston’s first visit to Wembley was for the 1937 FA Cup final. Their previous success in the cup had come before the final was moved to the twin towers in 1923.

That first visit saw PNE lose 3-1 to Sunderland in front of a 93,495 crowd.

They had controlled the first half, with Frank O’Farrell giving Preston the lead just before half-time.

However, Sunderland came back strongly in the second half and scored through Bobby Gurnley, 
Raich Carter and Eddie Burbanks.

A year later, North End were back at the national stadium to play Huddersfield in the FA Cup final.

It was the first final to be broadcast on television.

From an entertainment spectacle, it was not the best of games.

But nothing could take away the drama which was to unfold right at the end of the game.

The 90 minutes had failed to produce a goal, the game moving into extra time.

As the clock ticked by, a replay looked to be the likely outcome.

But with 119 minutes played, a tackle by Huddersfield skipper Alf Young sent Mutch crashing to the turf.

In an extract from his diary of the day, PNE full-back Andy Beattie wrote: “Young had played a magnificent game all through and did not deserve to make this fatal mistake.

“It was fortunate for me that Mutch had been selected during our training to take any penalty awarded to us in this game, as I had been the recognised choice for this job in previous matches.

“Mutch was dazed and I must confess that for a few minutes I felt most uncomfortable, realising that the responsibility might rest with me.

“Still a little dazed, George placed the ball on the spot while I proceeded to walk back towards my own goal.

“I heard the thud of boot and ball as a deathly silence prevailed, and for a few fleeting seconds I thought that he had missed this golden opportunity.

“With the thunderous applause of our supporters, I turned to see Hesford, the Town goalkeeper, retrieving the ball from the back of the net.”

North End were back at Wembley for the 1940/41 League War Cup Final. They drew 1-1 with Arsenal, before winning the replay 2-1 at Ewood Park.

Ten years apart in 1954 and 1964, PNE reached the FA Cup final, beaten 3-2 on both occasions by West Bromwich Albion and West Ham respectively. The club’s last visit to the national stadium came 21 years ago in the Third Division play-off final against Wycombe.

Twice PNE led through goals from Ian Bryson and Paul Raynor but it was Wycombe who ran out 4-2 winners.

Wembley has been knocked down and re-built at great expense since then.

On Sunday, North End will be chasing glory there – 
77 years since that glorious April afternoon in 1938.