Many football clubs around the world have their own special events each season that commemorate a standout part of the clubs history. Manchester United have the pilgrimage to Munich, Liverpool mark the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. However, it is my team, Preston North End FC and the Gentry Day tradition which this post is about.
The Origins of Gentry Day
The “Gentry Day” comes from comments made in a post-match interview with then PNE manager Alan Ball Snr. Preston had been playing Fulham at Craven Cottage during the 1970/71 season, with Fulham only needing a point to secure the division 3 title and promotion. North End were in 2nd position and knew that only wins in their last 2 matches would do the job. Preston won 1-0 and rounded off the task with a 3-0 win over Rotherham.
However as magnificent as I am sure it was for the fans to see that win it is the comments from the manager that have special significance for the fans.
“Preston fans are the best, they’re the gentry”
These words inspired a group of fans to start going to away matches in Pin-stripe suits and bowler hats. It gave the people of Preston a sense of self and importance to the football club. Which is something I think is taken for granted or forgotten completely in today’s game.
Gentry Day Today.
Over time the tradition faded, until 2005 when a supporters group decided to revive it. Now once a year an away game is chosen to host this special event. This year, Saturday 13th April 2019 will see West Bromwich Albion host the Gentry hoard at The Hawthorns.
Gentry Day is all about the fans. With supporters of all generations’ and members of the community taking part. It has also been something that the management and staff have been keen to make the players embrace over the years. Leading to several celebrations with the fabled bowler hat.
The day has evolved with each passing year. Going from being a fan day to one that also commemorates fans who are no longer with us. This has led entire families to take the leap and experience the day for themselves. Gentry Day for PNE fans is eagerly anticipated all year. The questions as to when it will be held can be found on forums and chat rooms from week 1 of the new season starting.
In conclusion, it is sometimes easy for clubs to focus on events born of tragedy and sorrow. Gentry Day does the opposite of that and celebrates the fans of the club for just being fans. Furthermore, it’s refreshing, and something that other football clubs are looking to engage their own support with.
If you want to see the full history of Gentry Day, you can check out the video below.