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03/04: Reports:

Nationwide Division One, 04/11/03, 7.45pm
Preston North End
By Simon Devon

Tradition. It's an important part of football, as anyone who read ig's preview of the Milton Keynes FC match would agree. I'm not about to launch into the debate about the Wimbledon situation (I'll leave that to WML) but whatever your views, you have to respect a club's past. This applies to all clubs. Watford is perceived as a club with no tradition (usually by people like Spurs fans, who seem to forget they haven't won the league for forty years - their tradition is in losing, obviously) but we do have a rich past to be very proud of. I'm preaching to the converted here, but I think we should rightly look back at our history and be proud of the way we pioneered community involvement with clubs and have constantly produced players from our youth scheme.

Multiply this by all the teams in the league and you can see why some bright spark came up with the idea of a football museum. It's a good idea as football really does have an interesting history.

So why is it in bloody Preston?

I've nothing personally against the place, but it always seems to cause me grief. One time we went and our car got broken into (another unfortunate British tradition) and everything nicked. It was a hire car too, so we had to stump up for the repairs. Next time I went, the club offered free transport. Brilliant! Or not. Having only been on club transport once before, we took the plunge and went on the coach. I'm not saying it was a slow, boring, uncomfortable journey, but we only got back last week. So, I've nothing against the football museum or Preston, really...I just wish it was nearer and the local scallies would stop smashing car windows. (In fairness, a Preston fan walking home did help us out - if you are reading this, I know it's six years too late, but thanks for your help).

In goal is likely to be Jonathan 'son of Bobby' Gould. With Tepi Moilanen moving to Herts, cover is provided by Andy Lonergan, whose debut as a seventeen-year-old was against the 'Orns in 2000 (the one with the free coach trip to hell and back).

Conceding a goal to a Robert Page header has understandably limited further first team appearances.

Craig Brown can call upon some experience in at the back with ex-Bedfordshire resident Gary Alexander, Robert Edwards, Chris Lucketti and Michael Jackson all appearing this season. Alexander plays on the right, but I'm no Matt Rowson (after looking at opposition websites, I'm amazed he ever finds out who the left back is...) and so the rest of the positions this lot play in are a bit of a mystery to me. Marlon Broomes plays in the middle (as a sweeper?) but he's suspended. Preston have conceded nineteen goals at the time of writing, one less than the 'Orns, so Danny Webber and co shouldn't fear this as a particularly stubborn defence to break down.

Midfield includes the brilliantly named Paul McKenna. Watch out for Jamie Hand pretending to be a chicken every time the crowd cheers or something. Dixon Etuhu has been ruled out recently leaving Brian O'Neil, American International Eddie Lewis (who I've seen play in the MSL!) and youngster Michael Keane to complete the midfield four. Etuhu should make PNE's game against Derby so I expect he will feature in the game against the 'Orns.

Things get easier to work out up front! With Ricardo Fuller suspended, David Healy looks set to partner Richard Cresswell up front. Another youngster, Simon Lynch, has been getting splinters this season so will probably provide backup with George Koumantarakis also in contention.

Writing before our game against Rotherham and Preston's against Derby, we lie four points behind PNE in the table. It's a game we can get a result out of and is a good opportunity to carry on climbing the table. If you are off to Deepdale, take a chance to look round the museum as it really is worthwhile.

Just don't go on the club coach.