Preston North End vs Norwich East Start. Dave Seddon, sports writer for the Lancashire Evening Post, talks PNE past and present, proper first names, T-Shirt sellers and ugh...Simon Whaley.
JR: From an outsiders point of view, Preston seem one of those teams who never seem to have that little bit extra to push on. Like Huddersfield have this year. Are they a frustrating club to support?
DS: Yes I suppose we are frustrating. Outside of the top division since the early 1960s, we've had a tour of the other three divisions. Promotions, relegation, re-election even, Milk Cup ties aplenty against Norwich in the 1980s. The big-time just seems to evade us, two Championship play-off finals in 2001 and 2005, and two semi-finals in 2006 and 2009. Financially, Preston are stable but not flushed to make that extra big push. With the parachute payment system, it is difficult for any club who have not been in the Premier League recently, to push on. Our best chance of promotion was in 2005, played West Ham in the final. Poor game, both sides poor on the day, two PNE players slipped for the West Ham goal. Typical.
JR: Wow. Don't say Milk Cup to a Norwich fan. I just got very excited. 1985. Wembley. I had to take a few breaths. Talking of difficult for clubs to push on, Huddersfield, who you're playing them tonight (Interview conducted on Wednesday - Preston won 3-1) - have done just that. So it's not impossible. I've just decided, beat those 6-0 and then lose to us 1-0, happy with that?
DS: If you had offered us that beforehand........probably take that. Just! Mind you, Norwich is a long way to go for nothing. Talking of the Milk Cup, it was the rule of football that we were drawn together every season.
JR: I've had a little look at my invisible book of Norwich and Preston players. We don't have many too choose from sadly. The biggest and brightest for us both is...Daryl Russell. I saw him selling his own brand of T-Shirts at BBC Radio 1's One Big Weekend in Norwich two years ago. Can you remember any other players that have donned the white and the yellow? They don't have to be selling wares at music festivals.
DS: Back in an hour, just got to nip somewhere and wipe away the memory of Daryl Russell.
JR: Ha! Please come back.
DS: Daryl Russell probably sold T-Shirts better than he played in midfield for Preston. Played for both - we loved Declan Rudd when you loaned him here. Would like to see him back one day. Jason Jarrett, Chris Brown, Simon Whaley - ring a bell? We loaned you Dickson Etuhu, allowed him to play against PNE and he broke Adam Nowland's leg.....ouch.
JR: Back in a decade, just got to nip somewhere and wipe away the memory of Simon Whaley. Wow. Dickson Etuhu was a beast for us, just not consistent. So, modern Preston. Who's going to cause us the most problems on Saturday?
DS: Jordan Hugill done well this season, young striker progressing nicely. Callum Robinson has got pace, Paul Gallagher can make things tick from midfield.
JR: Jordan and Callum!? What’s happen to the good footballing names, Brian, Bobby and Dave! So, I find this question the most interesting. Who are you worried about on the Norwich side?
DS: We do have a Clive at PNE who is a first-year professional. Proper name. Jerome can score goals. Hoolahan scored against us for Blackpool a few years back so haunted by him a bit.
JR: Finally, I believe it may be Simon Grayson's 200th game for Preston tonight. That's wonderful isn't it? Especially in the Villa/Derbyesque spinning wheel of sackings. What's the overall fans opinion of his managerial career?
DS: Most are impressed, four promotions with four teams. Preston have progressed every season under him. Some fans want to see more expansive football and do criticise him. But the stability he has given is there to see. We were sacking a manager a season previously and it got us nowhere.
JR: So Score prediction, sir. No-one has ever got it right yet.
JR: 2-0 Norwich for me. Really tricky game.