For me, as a young lad growing up, I started going on Deepdale to watch North End (that I can remember) in the 2000/2001 season. The final season of the old Town End and the first season for a 23-year old Richard Cresswell in PR1.
I remember him coming on against Wolves in 2001 to make his debut and he scored after about 5 minutes of coming on. Initially signing on loan from Premier League Leicester City, he made 11 appearances with 5 starts and 6 from the bench in the league, scoring twice.
The club signed him permanently in July 2001 for a fee of £500,000. His goalscoring exploits weren’t exactly much to shout about when he was with us on loan, as I said, he managed to bag twice in that initial spell but he never looked back after signing permanently.
In his first full season with us in 2001/02, he scored 15 goals in all competitions for us, including a double at home against Rotherham that sealed a 2-1 win. That, in a season that also saw David Moyes leave for the Everton job and Craig Brown, come in as his replacement.
In the 02/03 season, he hit double figures again scoring 16 in all competitions as Craig Brown lead his side to a 12th place finish. The season after wasn’t much to shout about again for Cressy as he ended with 3 goals to his name as North End finished a paltry 15th.
The start of the season after, the 2004/05 season, Craig Brown was relieved of his managerial duties at the club on August 29th and Billy Davies was initially placed in temporary charge of the Lilywhites. That was made permanent in September after Davies had won 3 of his first 5 games in which Cresswell scored twice against Stoke City in a 3-0 win.
This was his best season in a North End shirt, too. He scored 21 in all competitions, including a hat-trick in the second round of the league cup against Leicester City and he also got one in the first leg of the play-off semi-finals against Derby County at home. That season was the season we went all the way to the play-off final against West Ham United.
He left to join Leeds United the season after for around £1m and that was that for me. The end of the road watching Richard Cresswell play in Lilywhite but fortunately, a young lad from Huyton who joined from Bury that January had already started to capture my heart. I’m sure there’ll be a piece about him in the coming weeks as well.
For me, everything about Cressy was what I used to want to be in the playground at school with my mates. His boots, his goalscoring and even his blonde highlights in his hair. As a young lad in primary school, what wasn’t to love about a striker at your club like that?
For me, there was nothing not to love.