The moment Tom Clarke got a pep talk from a Preston North End fan at Amsterdam airport ahead of Blackburn derby

It wasn't your usual pre-match pep talk.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 3:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 4:24 pm
Preston North End captain Tom Clarke
Preston North End captain Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke was minding his own business with his wife at Amsterdam airport during the international break when the Preston North End skipper was reminded by a fan what game he was returning to.

Blackburn Rovers are next up at Deepdale on Saturday with the supporter keen to point out to the experienced defender who he would need to keep an eye on when the Lancashire rivals come to town.

An unlikely situation and setting it may have been, but it was a reminder for the captain just what is at stake, more than a little edge added to the three Championship points on the line.

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Preston North End captain Tom Clarke

“When you’re walking around town you get reminded quickly about what’s coming up and how important it is to the fans,” said Clarke.

“I had a little break with my wife and I was at the airport in Amsterdam and someone shouted out ‘it’s a big game on Saturday’ and then went on about some of their players and told me to make sure they don’t score.

“My wife was laughing. I just gave them a thumbs up. It was all a bit random.

“I think it’s the first time it happened to me. Maybe in Manchester you might expect it but over there it was a surprise.

Tom Clarke battles with Craig Conway during Preston's last meeting with Blackburn back in March 2017

“It was funny but we know what it means to the fans.

“I’ve been here a while and I’ve played in many of these and I know how important they are to our supporters.

“We’re working very hard on the training pitch to get that result for them.”

The reality is Clarke needed no prompting about how significant any clash with a near neighbour is for PNE’s supporters.

The 30-year-old was an instant hit with Lilywhites fans shortly after arriving back in 2013, scoring a winner against Blackpool in the League Cup in just his second competitive game for the club.

More recently he provided the assist for Aiden McGeady’s late equaliser at Ewood Park in the last game between the sides back in March 2017.

“Players can go down in folklore by scoring goals in these games,” Clarke said.

“There’s always an extra bite to these games as they are big for the fans and big for us as well.

“At their place last time it was a great game that with a great atmosphere, especially getting that late goal for our fans.

“This time they’re bringing their full allocation so it will be a really good atmosphere in front of our home fans.

“You’ve got to go out and enjoy it and put everything that goes on around the game to the back of your mind though.

“It’s an important game because it’s the next game and there’s three points up for grabs.

“If the fans can have the bragging rights then brilliant but first of all it’s about getting that win.”