This is a piece formed from an exclusive interview of sorts with former left-back, David Buchanan. I caught up with David and we discussed what it was about the 2014/15 season that was so special and of course, we spoke about the play-offs and that day at Wembley.
So without further ado, please enjoy. Over to you, David…
The first thing that should be said about that promotion-winning season, on the whole, is that there was an unbelievable dressing room atmosphere and it was great to be a part of. There were a lot of leaders in there but all very different in their own ways.
All the lads in the dressing room were ultra-competitive. Not just in the usual stuff you would expect but in everything that we did. Whether it was general training, head tennis, darts, a game of two-touch, lads on the bench press and even pull up competitions; everyone wanted to win and we drove each other on and challenged each other to perform to our individual best. Without a doubt, the team spirit was second to none, both on and off the pitch.
For me, this was the key, the thing that was our advantage. Everyone wanted to play in every game. But whether you were in the team on the bench or even in the stands we all wanted one thing at the end of the day… 3 points.
The Gaffer (Simon Grayson) built a squad that had characters, but the right mix of characters and on top of this, we also had a lot of great players which always helps. Becks (Jermaine Beckford) and Garns (Joe Garner) formed an unbelievable partnership and they just ‘got’ each other. Also, when it really mattered in the big games, the two of them were unplayable.
Then you’ve got Paul Gallagher, simply just a class act. He’s an unbelievable technician, a great professional and what a role model he is, not just for the young lads but everyone in the squad. Players like Welshy, Clarkey and Bailey Wright just led by example with what they did on a daily basis. Ultimately though, I think we all played our part and that’s why we were successful.
I trained and played as though my life depended on it every time I went to work. I think we were all proud to represent the history of our football club; Preston North End.
I look at Paul Huntington and just think about what a player he has been. He never shies away from anything and he’s a smashing lad, too. In that season he was out of the squad for a long time but he stuck at it and in the end, his goals were vital to us going up.
The other big thing was that the player and staff relationships were all first-class. Tom Little, the first team fitness coach, is the best I’ve worked with in the game, period. He got me the fittest I’ve ever been in my career. Jacko (Matt Jackson) and his medical team couldn’t do enough for you.
Even the staff in the offices, they would go above and beyond to make sure your families were looked after whether that was tickets for a match day or sorting hospitality; whatever you needed they couldn’t do enough.
We also had great young players to like Josh Brownhill, Alan Browne and Ben Davies who have all gone on to fulfil their potential which is absolutely amazing to see.
When we lost out on automatic promotion on that day away at Colchester, it was so deflating for all of us. It was a game that we went into and in all honesty, we were expecting to win it; we had nothing else in our minds apart from getting the job done and celebrating with friends family back home.
However, once the dust had settled and we knew it was going to be the play-offs again, something changed and the group just kicked into a different gear. Honestly, I just knew this time that we would do it!
The training in the build-up the two Chesterfield games and then Wembley was brilliant and the lads just had the bit between their teeth. On the day itself, the message was simple; It’s all well and good playing at Wembley but only if you win.
Obviously I was disappointed not to be involved in the team on the day, just like a few of the other lads, but we all knew we had played a huge part over the course of the season to be in the position we found ourselves in.
In all honesty, I felt more nervous watching the game, than I would have if I had played in it but, as soon we scored the first goal I knew there was only going to be one winner. The Preston fans were different class, as usual, that day and it was such a good feeling to finally win in a play-off for them, and at Wembley too. Also, for myself and the other lads, that win was for Mr Preston himself, Sir Tom Finney.
I’ll end by letting you know that the party we had on the bus on the way back home was absolutely magnificent. I’ve never been involved in anything like that before.