PNE retro: Tony Ellis was Preston North End's hat-trick hero against Blackpool in 1992

Preston North End’s victory against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in October 1992 had been long overdue for the Lilywhites faithful.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:45 pm

Not since February 1961 had they won a league game on Seasiders soil.

In 1985 they had tasted victory in the first leg of a League Cup tie, but that had been as good as it had got.

Eight league trips to the coast between 1967 and 1990 had seen four draws and four defeats.

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Tony Ellis completes his hat-trick for Preston North End against Blackpool in October 1992

Tony Ellis was the man who made the difference in 1992, scoring a hat-trick to send a large PNE travelling support wild.

A couple of years later he would go on to sign for Blackpool, hence the striker not exactly having legendary status at North End.

On that particularly Saturday afternoon, and in indeed during his two spells as a Preston player – either side of a stint at Stoke – he was highly regarded.

The North End fans had headed down the M55 more in hope rather than any sort of expectation.

PNE striker Tony Ellis gets ahead of Blackpool defender Gary Briggs at Bloomfield Road

Their side had lost the last three games, Les Chapman sacked as manager after two of those and replaced by Sam Allardyce in a caretaker capacity.

Allardyce stepped up from being youth-team coach to take charge of the first-team while a long-term replacement was sought for Chapman.

Winning at Blackpool was part of his claim for the job on a permanent basis when it came to the board making their mind up a couple of months later.

However, Allardyce was overlooked in favour of John Beck, which is another story.

A dazed but happy Tony Ellis celebrates his hat-trick against Blackpool, with the PNE fans in the background

Whether or not Ellis had a clear recollection of scoring three times on the Fylde coast is doubtful.

He might have recalled the first two, scored as PNE got a big foothold in the derby in the first half.

But early in the second half he was sparked out by a clash with Blackpool defender Gary Briggs.

It was a proper seeing stars moment, how Briggs stayed on the pitch was astonishing. Somehow Ellis climbed up off the floor like a boxer who had taken a succession of blows, legs rather wobbly.

Moments later, he met John Tinkler’s low cross, turned sharply and guided a shot into the far bottom corner of the net.

The PNE supporters were massed at that end of the ground, Ellis sliding on his knees to celebrate in front of them and share their joy.

That made it 3-1, Briggs scoring a late Blackpool second but North End hung on for three welcome points.

The visitors had been 2-0 up inside 11 minutes as they caught their hosts cold.

Ellis opened the scoring, heading in a long throw-in from Mike Flynn.

When Blackpool keeper Steve McIlhargey found a shot from Lee Ashcroftt to hot to handle, Ellis nipped in to net the rebound.

Trevor Sinclair halved the deficit from David Eyres’ cross just before half-time, but after the interval Ellis completed his treble.

PNE: Farnworth, Davidson, Flynn, Callaghan, Fowler (Kidd), Ashcroft, Cartwright, Tinkler, James, Ellis (Finney), Leonard.

Attendance: 7,631.

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