• Preston North End Youth Team Reunion

    April 2010

  • This latest reunion we had organised, kindly sponsored by Paper Innovation Limited, was for the Preston North End youth team squad that reached the national final of the FA Youth Cup in 1960.

    Reunions can be so difficult to arrange, but conversely, so rewarding at the end. Tracking down the guys in question, can be, and was, a real task. Some of the squad were already members of our Association, but the whereabouts of a few were still unknown. Peter Thompson, the youth teams leading goalscorer, had been living in Portugal during 2009 and the rumours that he had returned to England proved to be true. Unfortunately we only made contact with him on the actual morning of the reunion, too late for him to attend, as he was down in Kent.

    Gavin Laing was tracked down to Johannesburg in South Africa, thanks to an email to the Sunday Post. Again, too late to make any arrangements, but having said that he would have been stranded due to the Icelandic volcanic ash situation. Jimmy Humes was in Australia for a family wedding and Ian Matthews, who scored in both legs of the final, against Chelsea, was committed to moving house that very weekend. Even Alan Spavin was experiencing travelling visa problems from Florida, where he works and lives. But like the other absentees, he extended his best wishes to his former team mates.

    The rewarding side of the task was that John Barton, George Ross, Rodney Webb, Dave Will, Johnny Hart, Michael Smith and Dave Wilson elected to attend the 50th anniversary dinner. It was quite amusing to see some of the lads arrive at the Garstang venue reception, walking past their former team mates, oblivious of who they were. Once re-introductions were made the memories came flooding back. A lot has happened over the last 50 years, so they had a lot of catching up to do.

  • With 13 full tables, the evening flowed and all in attendance had a very enjoyable evening including established first team players of that era, Fred Else, Tommy Thompson, Les Dagger and Sammy Taylor. With some over-night stays arranged, courtesy of the PFA, the former youth team, all now of pensionable age, carried on reminiscing over breakfast before going on their separate ways. Now that they have met up again, maybe they will continue to meet up again at future events the Association organises.