An opening day win for Preston North End at Bournemouth in August 1983

Preston North End got the 1983/84 season off to a fine start with victory over AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 1st June 2020, 3:00 pm
Andy McAteer leads Preston North End's push up field against AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court in August 1983
Andy McAteer leads Preston North End's push up field against AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court in August 1983

Graham Houston’s goal in the first half settled the game and made the long trip back from the south coast go that bit quicker.

It proved very rewarding for the endurance and dedication of two North End supporters who WALKED the 275 miles!

Tony Dewhurst and Brendan Meeks set off on their long-distance walk two weeks before the game.

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Dave Jones on his Preston debut at Bournemouth in August 1983

They did so for charity, raising money for research into Crohn’s Disease.

The dedicated duo met the PNE players on their arrival at the ground and then rested their weary legs in the directors’ box to watch the victory.

After fighting off the threat of relegation with a strong run in the second-half of the previous season, this first-day win was just the tonic for Gordon Lee’s men.

They were indebted to goalkeeper Peter Litchfield for the clean sheet and the three points.

PNE midfielder Paul Lodge puts in a tackle against Bournemouth

Litchfield made four fine saves in the second half as the home side – managed by Harry Redknapp – piled forward in search of an equaliser.

In both of the previous two seasons, Litchfield had been ousted from the side by the arrival of Martin Hodge on loan from Everton.

This season was the chance for Litchfield to make the N0.1 shirt his own and this performance in the Dorset heat was a sign of things to come.

Litchfield was an ever present and nine months later won the PNE player of the year award.

PNE striker Steve Elliott challenges against Bournemouth, watched by team-mate Andy McAteer

Sporting a new-look kit, it was a familiar looking side which took to the pitch.

The one new face against Bournemouth was Dave Jones, the former Everton defender who had spent the pre-season training with PNE after returning from a spell playing in Hong Kong.

Jones teamed-up with Tommy Booth at the heart of the defence and was a replacement for Don O’Riordan who had left to join Carlisle United.

North End’s winner had a touch of good fortune about it, Houston deflecting in a shot from Paul Lodge.

Preston centre-half Tommy Booth challenges in the air against Bournemouth

After the game, Lodge was to claim the goal as his, however it went down in the records as Houston’s goal.

Houston operated on the left-wing, that allowing Willie Naughton to push up front to partner Steve Elliott.

It was a lead PNE had to work hard to hang on to, as Bournemouth turned up the heat in the second half.

Playing in the home side’s midfield was John Beck who nine years later would become North End manager.

The Jones/Booth pairing looked solid enough but it needed Litchfield’s agility behind them in order for the visitors to claim the points.

This win kicked-started a seven-game unbeaten start in league and cup.

But then came a run of 10 league games without a victory.

PNE: Litchfield, Hinnigan, Jones, Booth, McAteer, Kelly, Lodge, Sayer, Houston, Naughton, Elliot. Sub (not used): Farrelly.

Attendance: 4,163