Jake recently had the pleasure of talking to former PNE goalkeeper Andy Lonergan on the latest edition of ‘From the Finney Meets…’.
Andrew is, as many reading this piece will know, a Preston boy and came through the academy system at the club. He made his first-team debut aged 16 in a League Cup tie against Coventry City and followed that up by securing the Young Player of the Year award for the 2000/01 season.
Lonergan then spent time on loan at Darlington and Blackpool, before returning to the club and featuring as understudy to current PNE goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould. Indeed, when Gould was injured in the early part of 2004, Lonners took his place and kept it going into the 2004/05 season.
He fought off competition from the experienced Gavin Ward and Chris Neal and was ever-present throughout the first half of the season for Billy Davies’s play-off chasing side, even scoring a goal from his own box against Leicester City.
Andy Lonergan looks set to make his Liverpool debut today ⚽️
— From the Finney (@fromthefinney) August 17, 2019
Lonergan was then to suffer a devastating blow in February when he damaged his cruciate ligaments before a key clash with Ipswich Town at Deepdale. To cover for the 21-year-old, Davies brought in Carlo Nash from Middlesbrough.
Nash remained between the sticks for the remainder of the season, including the play-off ties against Ipswich and then the final against West Ham. He then kept Lonergan out of the starting XI the following season whilst securing a club-record 24 clean sheets.
When Nash was dropped in January 2007, Lonergan reclaimed the gloves and remained the first choice for the vast majority of the remainder of his time with North End.
He was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2008/09 when PNE reached the play-offs under Alan Irvine, before scooping the same award again the following season. Lonners was named vice-captain at the beginning of that campaign, and he was skipper for the first time in September 2009 in a 2-0 win over Swansea City.
North End then struggled for the remainder of the campaign, as Irvine was replaced by Darren Ferguson in the Deepdale hot seat, but Lonergan’s impressive form captured the interest of several Premier League clubs. They rejected three bids from West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2010, however, and the ‘keeper stayed at PNE for the 2010/11 season.
He was then again linked to a move to the Premier League in January, with PNE rooted in the bottom three, but Lonergan then found himself replaced by Everton loanee Iain Turner.
North End were eventually relegated to League One at the end of the season, and with the club looking to re-sign Turner on a permanent deal, Lonergan was sold to Simon Grayson’s Leeds United.
Lonners has had seven clubs since leaving North End, including Fulham, Wolves and Liverpool, where he currently serves as back-up to Alisson Becker and Adrian.
He trained with the Reds in pre-season and was signed on a contract until the end of the season when Alisson suffered an injury on the opening day clash with Norwich.
Lonners featured on the bench when Liverpool secured the UEFA Super Cup, and was most recently on the bench for their 4-2 aggregate defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16.
For North End, he played an important part throughout his 11 years as a professional and crucially remained a reliable figure between the sticks when the fortunes of the side ebbed and flowed during the latter part of the last decade.
His performances in 2008/09 were key to North End’s run to the play-offs, including the vital penalty save from Ross McCormack in the 6-0 victory over Cardiff City late on in the season which played a small part in Alan Irvine’s men overhauling the Bluebirds and securing sixth position on the final day.
Lonners has spent spells as both the first choice and back up at his clubs since, although his current position at European Champions Liverpool is just reward for a player that has built up experience and served North End with distinction over many years.
You can give the episode of From the Finney Meets… Andrew Lonergan a listen on all good streaming platforms and on our web player below, now.