Alan Browne's rise, Sean Maguire's arrival and more - A closer look at our PNE survey findings
We asked Preston North End fans for their views on a wide range of subjects after a successful campaign on the field. Adam Lord takes a closer look at the resultsIt was quite a season at Deepdale for a variety of reasons. The rise of '˜Baluga boy' Alan Browne, the arrival of new striking hope Sean Maguire and a first campaign under Alex Neil that has raised expectations.
The result was a seventh-placed finish in the Championship as PNE took their play-off push to the final day.
At the end of it all we asked for your views and you did not disappoint.
On the field, off the field, important and trivial, you have let us know what you think.
Currently away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland as his stock continues to rise, our results reflected that this really was Alan Browne’s season.
After picking up a hat-trick of gongs at PNE’s awards, with 47 per cent of our vote, Browne was also the player of the year in this poll.
He certainly found his calling under Neil, meaning that 43 per cent of those polled deemed the 23-year-old had made the biggest breakthrough at Deepdale in 2017-18.
A nod to Ben Davies too, who was only just pipped in that category as he picked up 41 per cent of the vote.
The academy product’s performances at the heart of the defence saw him overwhelming named the young player of the year in our survey, with 84 per cent of the votes cast.
Back to man of the moment Browne, and his 45-yard strike in the 3-0 win over Cardiff was our goal of the season on 56 per cent, gaining more than half of the vote share in what, on paper at least, looked like a competitive category.
But the next best were also both from the Irishman, his goals against Bristol City and Wycombe picking up 11 per cent apiece.
On a more light-hearted note, the ‘Baluga’ chant, referencing the No.8’s nocturnal activities in a popular Preston nightspot, won out as chant of the year on 61 per cent.
That got the better of early season favourite ‘Cumbrian Cannavaro’ a popular ode up and down the land to Paul Huntington and his Carlisle roots.
Darnell Fisher’s ‘Starman’ chant, to the tune of the David Bowie classic, was an outsider in the race, with eight per cent of those polled making it their choice.
The right-back, Neil’s first signing as PNE boss back in July last year, was a frontrunner to be signing of the year though.
His 33 per cent of the poll was surpassed only by Sean Maguire, who picked up 54 per cent of the vote.
The Irishman had a stellar campaign, despite missing a large part of it with a serious hamstring injury, as he finished joint top scorer with 10 goals.
Perhaps the highlight of a impressive season was his return on Gentry Day at Bolton, the Irishman scoring twice off the bench late on as North End came from behind to win 3-1.
That early March afternoon was second in our best game of the season category with 33 per cent of your votes.
The home win over Cardiff in September, which included Browne’s goal of the season, came out on top with 43 per cent.
Some 17 per cent of fans enjoyed the trip to Birmingham which saw Neil’s men score three goals in 11 second-half minutes to win 3-1 just four days after the victory against Cardiff at Deepdale.
There were not many low points throughout the season but of those, the 1-0 defeat at home to Ipswich was voted the worst game of the campaign with 39 per cent.
It was an afternoon that reflected what was, at times, a frustrating season on home soil.
Others in the running were the 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, the League Cup exit at Accrington, and the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Ipswich.
We also asked you for some of your best individual memories of the season.
Many picked out Maguire’s Gentry Day cameo as their moment of the campaign, with Tom Clarke’s last-gasp winner at Cardiff also a popular choice.
Those games also came high on the list when we asked you for your best away days, some of the responses not suitable for a family newspaper!
Others enjoyed the snow of Sunderland, one fan even flying to Amsterdam before taking an overnight ferry to Newcastle for the game at the Stadium of Light.
There was also another boat trip to Fulham, which certainly had many in high spirits in more ways than one.
As for other ‘moments of the season’ plenty pointed to John Welsh’s departure with the send-off he received at Deepdale a real highlight and a fitting way to end his six-year association with North End.
Some even went as far back as the day Neil was appointed for their high point of the campaign.
Whichever way you look at our results, next season cannot come quickly enough.