The world’s first FOOTBALL WALK OF FAME opens as tribute to the global icons of football.

Preston North End were founded as a cricket club in 1863,[1] although it would take fifteen years[1] after the formation of the club in its original form before their first football match.

Preston's FA Cup campaign started off successfully, with a 6-0 win over Barnet F.C. in the first round.[63] That was followed up with a 1-0 over Wycombe Wanderers.[64]

This era saw the transfer of some of the club's better players. Nick Ross signed for Everton, John Goodall went to Derby County and Thomson to Wolves.

The cricket team played their first game in the summer of 1863 at 'The Marsh', a strip of land next to the River Ribble in Ashton; it has been reported[by whom?] they were known for a short period of time as Preston Nelson, but Nelson and North End have played on the same day giving huge doubts to this fact. The club soon adopted the suffix 'North End' as they were based in the north end of Preston.

Preston North End were famously successful during the early years of professional football in England. In 1887, Preston beat Hyde 26–0 in the First Round of the FA Cup, still a record winning margin in English first-class football. Preston forward Jimmy Ross scored eight goals in the match, going on to score 19 goals in the competition that season, also still a record.[7]

Despite the museum's closure at Deepdale, the National Football Museum retained the long-term lease on its former site, which has since been used to store 90% of the museum's collection and as an "archive and research centre", but has otherwise remained vacant and closed to the public, despite periodic proposals to put the site to other uses.[83][84]

A succession of unsuccessful managerial appointments, starting with Darren Ferguson and ending with Graham Westley, saw the club relegated to League One and threatened with a further drop to the fourth tier after a club record run of 12 home games without a win under the latter's stewardship,[12] before an up-turn in fortunes began under current manager Simon Grayson, who was appointed in February 2013.

The previously affiliated women's football team was called Preston North End W.F.C.

Preston is the seat of Lancashire County Council, houses the main campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and is home to Preston North End F.C., a founder member of the Football League and the first English football champions.

The city is home to Alstom Transport's main UK spare parts distribution centre (formerly GEC Traction Ltd). Matalan Retail Ltd was also founded in Preston under the name Matalan Cash and Carry. Although the head office of Matalan moved to Skelmersdale in 1998, the city still has the tax office for the company (located in Winckley Square).

The onset of World War I in 1914 brought a temporary halt to football in the country, with many players enlisting to aid the war effort. Indeed, a Footballers' Battalion was formed in December 1914 and grounds were used as volunteering points.

Andy Saville, a much-travelled striker, was signed from Birmingham City for £100,000, whilst Steve Wilkinson was acquired for £80,000 from Mansfield Town to partner him. Despite losing their first game of the season 2-1 at home to Lincoln City, North End then embarked on a 21-match unbeaten run, which included the 6-0 drubbing of Mansfield, in which Saville and Wilkinson each bagged a hat-trick.

In Grayson's first summer in charge, he permanently signed 4 players, Tom Clarke,[51] a centreback, Chris Humphrey,[52] a right winger, Kevin Davies,[53] a Centre forward and Alex Nicholson,[54] a right back. He also signed Declan Rudd on a season long loan[55] from Norwich City. He allowed 3 players to leave during the summer, those being Luke Foster,[56] Chris Robertson[57] and Andrew Procter.[58]

Aside from a Second Division championship title, Finney never won any of the game's major honours.

Despite Beck's long-ball reputation, he led the club to Wembley in his first full season, where they lost 4-2 to Martin O'Neill's Wycombe Wanderers in the play-off final.

A stand at Deepdale is named after him and there is water sculpture of him outside the ground depicting the famous 'Splash' photograph.

This proved a failed experiment. By this time, rival side Preston Grasshoppers had been in existence for a number of years, and it proved impossible to compete with the two or three thousand spectators[citation needed] they managed to attract each week.

Preston were relegated from the top flight a year after Finney's retirement and have not returned since

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

1988-89 almost saw a return to Division Two, as North End finished 6th, only to lose 4-2 to Port Vale in the two-legged play-off semi-final. This proved to be McGrath's last game, as the manager who had resuscitated the club began to struggle, and the 2-0 FA Cup reverse at non-league side Whitley Bay proved to be the final straw.

Preston's 2nd game of 2014 was against Wolves, which ended in a 2 – 0 defeat.[29] In the FA Cup, Preston came up against Ipswich Town in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, drawing 1–1,[30] before winning 3–2 in the replay.[31] In the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, Preston were drawn against Nottingham Forrest. They drew 0–0[32] and then Preston lost 0–2 in the replay,[33] despite dominating the game.

Preston's most famous player, Sir Tom Finney, played for the club between 1946 and 1960. Finney is considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time, and was also a local lad, dubbed the "Preston Plumber" due to his professional training as a plumber. Finney remains the club's top goalscorer, with 187 goals from 433 appearances, and also scored 30 international goals for England.

England Test Cricket player Andrew Flintoff is a Preston native, and was granted freedom of the city following the Ashes victory of 2005.

After the season had finished, and after a time period of much controversy, including some team selections (such as playing centre half Aaron Brown up front),[31] the "text scandal"[32] and what was dubbed "leakgate"[33]), Graham Westley reiterated plans of overhauling the squad[34] in what was sure to be an interesting summer.

This was a picture of Finney beating Chelsea defenders at a waterlogged Stamford Bridge in 1956.

Preston

Again, the opponents were Huddersfield Town, with the outcome again decided by a penalty, George Mutch firing into the roof of the net after being unfairly challenged by Terriers defender Alf Young in the last minute of extra time. This was the last time North End won a major domestic trophy. with the cup winning team and the emergence of a plethora of talent through their two junior sides. One of those talents was Tom Finney.

Docherty had brought in a clutch of players including Tommy Booth and Gary Buckley from Manchester City, Jonathan Clark from Derby County and John Kelly from Tranmere Rovers. A 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Chesterfield[specify] saw 'The Doc' replaced by Alan Kelly (on a caretaker basis), before former Everton boss Gordon Lee joined in December 1981.

Following the cup final defeat, the sales of Kendall, Dawson and Dave Wilson saw the club relegated to the Third Division for the first time in its history in 1970 after a defeat by local rivals Blackpool, who in the process confirmed their own promotion.

The result meant that Preston would face Rotherham in the League One play-offs. The first leg ended in a 1–1 draw,[43] with a notable goal from Joe Garner.[44] In the second leg, Preston took an early lead, through Paul Gallagher, but conceded 3 goals, losing the match 3–1 and 4–2 on aggregate.[45]

At many points during the club's nine seasons in Division Two, relegation seemed quite likely. However, Taylor averted this potential disaster by signing two forwards from Tottenham Hotspur in the shape of Ted Harper and Arthur Rowley in the winter of 1931. In 1932-33, Harper scored 37 goals, a club record which still stands.[citation needed]

Preston's 2nd game of 2014 was against Wolves, which ended in a 2 - 0 defeat.[65] In the FA Cup, Preston came up against Ipswich Town in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, drawing 1-1,[66] before winning 3-2 in the replay.[67] In the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, Preston were drawn against Nottingham Forrest. They drew 0-0[68] and then Preston lost 0-2 in the replay,[69] despite dominating the game.

For the rest of the decade the team never managed to quite aspire to these heights, but the Tom Finney-inspired outfit entertained crowds up and down the country with fast, attacking football.

The club adopted the rugby union code in 1877, but one year later they played their first game under the rules of association football, and in May 1880 unanimously passed a resolution to adopt the association code, marking the foundation of Preston North End Football Club.[2]

Lee improved the team's results, avoiding a catastrophic drop to the basement division by a considerable margin. Amongst the players the manager brought in was loan goalkeeper Martin Hodge.

'As much as anthing else, and it's hard to expain to many people today, but it was the way he played and the way he carried himself - his whole demenour of life. Really, Preston will be a very sad place.'

Tributes to Finney will live on at the Preston club, where Finney remained president until his death.

Despite the Invincibles team being gradually dismantled, Preston continued to perform well in the league, finishing runners-up first to Everton and then twice in succession to Sunderland. In 1892-93 a second division was initiated, along with the first ever promotion/relegation 'play-off' system. This meant that the top three in Division Two would each play a one-off 'test match' against a team finishing in the bottom three in the top flight.

The 2013-14 season started off well, unbeaten in their first 9 league games. They also beat local rivals Blackpool in the League Cup, before being beaten by Lancashire rivals Burnley in the second round.

Preston then went onto lose their next 3 league games, against Rochdale,[94] Swindon Town F.C.[95] and Bradford City.[96]