Preston North End's flat cap day at Bolton Wanderers in May 1993

In the summer of 1993 Preston North End were preparing themselves for life back in bottom division.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 3:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 3:06 pm
The PNE away following can be seen behind Mark Leonard as he fails to stop the run of a Bolton player
The PNE away following can be seen behind Mark Leonard as he fails to stop the run of a Bolton player

They had been relegated after a 1-0 defeat against Bolton Wanderers at Burnden Park, a game PNE fans christened 'Flat Cap Day'.

More than 3,000 North Enders made the short trip down the M61, packing the terrace next to the supermarket which filled one corner of Bolton's former home - more were outside after being locked out when the away section reached capacity.

Many wore flat caps - big foam fun ones and the more traditional cap - in a bid to inspire John Beck's men to the unlikely victory needed to give them any hope of staying up.

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PNE's Ryan Kidd battles for possession against the Bolton defence as team-mate Liam Watson watches on

It was unlikely in the sense that hosts Bolton were chasing three points to earn promotion.

Unlikely in the sense too that North End had lost their previous four matches, including being thumped 5-1 at Deepdale the week before by Mansfield - a side below them in the table.

The damage had been done, the travelling fans making the trip in hope rather than expectation.

Things weren't made an easier by the absence of top scorer Tony Ellis who didn't even make the squad

Preston's Neil Whalley and Mickey Norbury jump for a high ball against Bolton at Burnden Park

In the end a penalty separated the sides who finished with 20 places between them in the final table.

That was awarded to Bolton in the 75th minute when a cross from David Lee struck the arm and thigh of PNE striker Simon Burton.

Referee John Kirkby pointed to the spot and John McGinley rifled the penalty past Simon Farnworth from 12 yards.

North End had given Bolton the occasional scare, including the first 10 seconds when Mickey Norbury's flick looked to have played in Burton but Wanderers goalkeeper Keith Branagan got to the ball moments ahead of him.

Preston striker Mark Leonard has a shot in the game at Bolton in May 1993

In the main though, the home side bossed the game and made PNE look like a side heading for the Third Division.

Not that the Preston faithful gave up backing their side, far from it.

They created a noisy atmosphere in the open away end and applauded their side at the final whistle even though relegation had been confirmed.

Who can forget the tearful Gareth Ainsworth pushing through the line of police in front of the away end - designed to keep the partying Bolton fans on the pitch at a distance - in order to show his appreciation to the travelling support?

PNE striker Mickey Norbury goes up for a header against Bolton

PNE: Farnworth, Callaghan, Greenall, Kidd, Lucas, Ainsworth, Whalley, Fowler (Watson), Burton, Leonard, Norbury. Sub (not used): Holland.

Attendance: 21,720.