On this day: John Beck was appointed as Preston North End manager 28 years ago

It is 28 years ago today that John Beck was appointed as Preston North End manager.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 7th December 2020, 5:04 pm
Updated Monday, 7th December 2020, 5:14 pm

Beck took the job on December 7, 1992, the press conference to announce him taking place at the Trafalgar Hotel, Salmesbury.

He was a controversial choice but the North End board of the time were impressed by how he had led Cambridge United to back-to-back promotions from the old Fourth Division through to the Second Division.

It had very nearly been three promotions on the bounce, with the U's having reached the old Second Division play-offs in May 1992 only to lose to Leicester City in the semi-finals.

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John Beck on the day he was appointed Preston North End manager

When achieving the two promotions, Cambridge had reached the quarter final of the FA Cup in both seasons.

Beck had been sacked by Cambridge in October 1992 after a poor start to the 1992/93 season and it was North End who moved to secure his services a couple of months later.

He succeeded Les Chapman at Deepdale, Chapman having been dismissed that September.

Sam Allardyce had been placed in caretaker charge after Chapman's exit, stepping-up from his job as youth-team coach.

John Beck introduces himself to the PNE fans at Deepdale a few days after his appointment

Allardyce did well in that two-month spell holding the fort and in the eyes of many should have landed the role permanently.

However, Beck had impressed the directors when he was interviewed.

He brought Gary Peters to PNE as his assistant, their first match in charge ending in a 5-2 home defeat to Port Vale on December 12.

It was a game before which Beck courted controversy by piling sand in the corners of the plastic pitch in order to hold the ball up, the referee ordering the sand to be swept off before kick-off.

One of Beck's first signings was Gareth Ainsworth who followed him from Cambridge - Ainsworth had enjoyed a short spell at PNE a couple of seasons earlier.

Off the pitch, Beck engaged well with fans who had been sceptical about his appointment, some remaining so throughout his tenure.

He regularly attended supporters group meetings and played a big part in North End fans moving to the Town End to help create a better atmosphere inside Deepdale.

North End were relegated at the end of the 1992/93 season, losing their last five games after appearing to be safe.

Beck vowed to guide them back up the following campaign and the Lilywhites recruited heavily, David Moyes, Mike Conroy, Paul Raynor, Ian Bryson and Andy Fensome among his signings.

However, they lost 4-2 to Wycombe Wanderers in the Fourth Division play-off final at Wembley in May 1994.

In December 1994, PNE - now owned by the Baxi partnership - sacked Beck and appointed Peters as his successor.

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