Tom Sandells' PNE Pressview: It's Preston Re-United on and off the pitch

Saturday’s game with Reading marks a big day for PNE fans, as they return to sit in the Bill Shankly Kop.

By Tom Sandells
Friday, 18th February 2022, 4:45 pm

It is the end of the ground that usually exclusively houses the away fans but as more is done at the club to try and improve fan engagement and interaction, there will be a trial run of opening that stand for the game against Reading.

It is also being designated as ‘flag day’ and supporters are encouraged to bring their flags to show their support for the team.

There have been calls to reopen the Kop, which was last split between home and away fans in 2015 for the play-off semi-final against Chesterfield , and some feel that it will improve the atmosphere at Deepdale.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Preston and their fans are singing from the same hymn sheet

Only time will tell on that front, though it certainly will have that effect come April 5, when Blackpool and their 2,000 supporters attend the game.

There are concerns that moving some fans, though it is the fans’ own choice, to the Kop will only split the atmosphere around the ground.

But nevertheless, it is another step in the right direction from PNE who have barely put a foot wrong in recent months.

There is a great sense of unity surrounding the Lilywhites, from the ground up.

Ryan Lowe’s appointment has been welcomed and he has immediately hit the ground running in terms of results, and is now getting North End fans dreaming of a play-off run.

He says the right things and knows what the fans want to hear, he waves to them on a matchday – by his own admission sometimes at nervy moments such as opposition corners – but it is an even relationship, They are singing from the same hymn sheet.

The club this weekend had also reduced ticket prices to £15 for adults, £10 for seniors and young adults, and £5 for juniors.

Under-11s tickets were £2, apart from in the family stand where they were £1.

That offer has now expired and prices are back to normal but it shows an intent to get the fans through the door for a game that is not exactly the glamour tie of the week, especially with the away followings of late.

Fans have been travelling in their numbers and the allure of Reading at home is not quite the same as a full day out to follow a side in excellent away form.

Twitter can be a toxic place too, and certainly was at the start of the season.

As a regular user of Twitter, it was getting tiresome to see so much animosity online and to see the discontent voiced towards players.

That, again, is no longer the case.

Brad Potts and Alan Browne bore the brunt of a lot of the frustration at the start of the season.

There were calls for the latter to be removed as captain despite his hard work and the likelihood his hip injury from the summer was hampering him.

Now he is rediscovering his best form and Potts – whose substitution at Nottingham Forest was cheered – is enjoying a resurgence at right wing-back.

It is enjoyable to be around PNE at the moment and that should be savoured.

Talk of new ownership cropped up at the start of the week but many are content with the stability that the Hemmings family have given the Lilywhites over the years and with Lowe delivering good performances on the pitch from his side, there is no real clamour for the massive change that it would be.

Things are going quite smoothly at North End at the moment and when you look around at other clubs, it is nice to see.

It has long been the case in PR1 that stability is key, now with further pushes off the pitch and fans onside again, who knows where Lowe could take this energetic side?

Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.