David Eyres cherishes the title medal he won with Preston North End 20 years ago
Twenty years on from Preston North End’s last title triumph, former winger David Eyres says he still owns and cherishes his winner’s medal.
The Liverpudlian, 56, was promoted via the play-offs with both Blackpool and Burnley, but the 1999/2000 campaign would be the only time in 17 years as a professional that he was crowned a champion.
Eyres made 41 appearances in Division Two that season, but was named on the bench against Cambridge as PNE secured top spot at the Abbey Stadium with two games still to play.
He was back in David Moyes’ XI for the trophy presentation at Deepdale less than a week later and scored within the first 60 seconds in a 3-2 win over Millwall.
“It was brilliant,” he said. “I remember going to Cambridge and I was only on the bench. Jon Macken didn’t play in the game either. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t playing. I ended up getting on for the last 25 minutes, but we were already 2-0 down.
“We were playing Millwall in the final home game the week after being promoted and David Moyes said to me, ‘Make sure you’re ready for Saturday because you’ll be starting’.
"We went 3-0 up, I scored, and we went on to win 3-2.
“We came off the pitch, went into the dressing room, and Sir Tom Finney was there to come on the pitch with us to collect the trophy and medals.
“The stadium was packed and the atmosphere was unbelievable. We went up on a high and we celebrated it for a long time.
“When I heard that Burnley had come up with us it was the icing on the cake.
“We were worthy champions and we won it quite comfortably in the end.”
Eyres added: “Winning a title was something I had always wanted to do, it was brilliant and I’m proud of that medal.
“I’ve still got it and I cherish it. I’ve got a medal to prove that I went up as a champion. I finished up as the top player statistically that season as well, which was nice.
“We went to the Town Hall to celebrate with the fans, we were all introduced individually and the response I got from the fans was brilliant.
“I think they might have felt that it was my last season.
“But Moyesy ended up pulling me in and offering me another year. He said I’d earned it and he wanted to give me a chance to play the following season, which I was made up with.”
Unfortunately it did not play out as Eyres had hoped.
Despite a good pre-season, the winger soon accepted that the pace of Division One was just beyond him aged 35.
He featured seven times from the bench and in October he moved to Oldham in search of regular first-team football.
Eyres said: "I was cracking on, touching 36, but I felt as fit and as strong as most of the lads in pre-season, even though I wasn't as quick.
"I started to sense that the First Division was a step too far if I wanted to prolong my career.
"I was coming off the bench in the first part of the season, trying to make an impact, but I wanted to play more regularly.
"I was playing for the reserves to keep up my match fitness and Andy Ritchie and his assistant, Billy Urmson, had watched me and asked Moyesy if they could take me on loan.
"They turned that down, but he said they could have me if they took over my contract. I got a call and I said 'yes'. I ended up staying on there for six years."