Preston North End v Liverpool (03/01/2009) - Double Agents
Thursday, 1st January 2009
In advance of our FA Cup Third Round meeting at Deepdale on Saturday evening, YNWA looks at the careers of some of the many who have represented both Preston and the reds.

Current double agent
Neil Mellor struck six times in 22 senior appearances for the reds, before moving to Preston in August 2006 for a report £500,000. He has so far struck just nineteen times in 72 outings for the Lilywhites, and has been a virtual ever present this season.

Also recently up front
David Johnson arrived from Ipswich Town in August 1976 for a record £200,000 fee, and went on to win three League titles, European Cup, UEFA Super Cup and two FA Charity Shields, scoring 78 times in 213 reds games. He was the first player to score for both sides in Merseyside derbies, and returned to Goodison in August 1982 for £100,000. He ended his professional career with Preston, grabbing three goals in 24 League games in 1984/85 as they were relegated to the basement division.

Joe Fagan brought Irish international Michael Robinson to Anfield in August 1983 from Brighton & Hove Albion for £250,000. In his first season at the club he won League title and European Cup medals, bagging a total of thirteen goals in 52 games during his Anfield career. He is now a much respected football pundit and commentator for Spanish television. He had started out at Deepdale, joining them as an apprentice in July 1974 just after they had been relegated to the Third Division before signing on professionally two years later under the management of Harry Catterick. He struck fifteen times in 48 League games before moving to Manchester City for an astounding £765,000 in June 1979 after he had helped PNE back into the Second Division.

Erik Meijer signed on a free transfer from Bayer 04 Leverkusen in July 1999, but could only net twice in just 27 appearances, before returning to Germany to join Hamburger SV on a free transfer, after a short loan spell at Deepdale in which he failed to score in nine outings. He retired from playing in 2006 after skippering Alemannia Aachen back to the German top flight after a 36-year absence, and is now on their coaching staff.

Shanks galore
Words cannot fully explain Bill Shankly's importance to the history of Liverpool Football Club. However, his honours as reds boss included three League titles, two FA Cups, UEFA Cup and the Second Division championship. He had signed for Preston in July 1933 for £500 from Carlisle United, and played a key role as they were promoted to the top flight as runners-up in his first season as well as featuring in two FA Cup Finals, losing to Sunderland in 1937 but beating Huddersfield Town a year later. He scored thirteen times in 296 League games for the Lilywhites before retiring in 1949. His uncles Bob and Billy both also played for Preston.

Other reds legends
Mark Lawrenson played his first game at Anfield in November 1976, nearly five years before signing for the reds. He appeared for Preston North End in an FA Cup First Round replay, as they beat Crewe Alexandra 3-0. He struck twice in 73 League games for his first senior club, winning their Player of the Year award in 1976/77 and claiming senior international honours before moving to Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer of 1977. He joined the reds for a then-record fee of £900,000 from the Seagulls in August 1981, going on to make 356 appearances, netting eighteen times while helping us to win four League titles, one European Cup, one FA Cup, three League Cups, FA Charity Shield and Screen Sport Super Cup in his time at Anfield.

Right-half Gordon Milne played 282 times for us after signing for £16,000 from his hometown club Preston in August 1960, netting eighteen times and winning the League title twice, as well as the Second Division championship before moving to Blackpool in May 1967. He had bagged three goals in 83 League outings for Preston.

Old-time forwards
Scottish inside-forward Willie Fagan joined Preston from Celtic when aged just nineteen and then moved on to Anfield for £8,000 in October 1937, netting 57 goals in 185 reds games, helping to fire us to the League title in 1947 and the FA Cup Final three years later. He left in January 1952 to sign up with Belfast Distillery. Tom Devlin signed from Preston in May 1927 after one goal in eight outings but was unable to make our first-team, unlike his brother, centre-forward William, who was at Anfield at the same time.

Centre-forward Frank O'Donnell struck once in two Wartime appearances for the reds. He gained six Scotland caps as well as scoring for Preston North End in every round of the FA Cup in 1937, including the Final, having signed up with them in the summer of 1935 alongside his brother, outside-left Hugh. He bagged a total of 48 goals in 101 games for the Lilywhites, moving to Blackpool with his brother after three years at Deepdale.

England international Frank Becton had two spells with his hometown club Preston, moving from Deepdale to Anfield for £100 in March 1895 after 37 goals in 87 League matches. He had also netted against the reds in our FA Cup Second Round victory in February 1894. He struck 42 times in 86 reds games before joining Sheffield United in October 1898. He returned to Preston in 1900, netting nine times in 26 League outings.

Winging their way south
Peter Thompson netted 54 times in 416 reds games, helping us to win two League titles, our first FA Cup and the FA Charity Shield, having arrived as our record signing in August 1963 for £37,000 from Preston North End, having bagged twenty goals in 121 League outings for his first club.

Outside-right Archie Rawlings struck ten times in his 67 reds games after signing from Preston in March 1924, before moving on to Walsall in June 1926. He had moved to Deepdale in 1920 and represented England while on Preston's books as well as featuring in the 1921 FA Cup Final, despite being suspended for a breach of discipline following their Semi-final defeat of Newcastle United. He struck 22 times in 64 matches for Preston.

Short-lived outside-right Dave Wilson only made one senior appearance whilst he was at Anfield, in between spells with Preston North End. He struck 31 times in 170 League outings for Preston before joining the reds for £20,000 in February 1967, returning to Deepdale in May 1968 to add a further ten goals in 111 League fixtures.

Other recent double agents
Reserves defender Brian Mooney joined Preston on loan in October 1987, later signing for them permanently for a £25,000 fee. He only ever played one senior reds game, as a substitute for Jim Beglin in a League Cup win at Fulham in October 1986, but managed to net 26 goals in 128 appearances while at Deepdale, winning their Player of the Year award in 1988/89 as they missed out on promotion to the Second Division, then moving back into the top flight to sign for Sunderland for £225,000 in 1991.

Other double agents
Right-half Raby Howell became the only true Romany to play for England before signing from Sheffield United for £200 in April 1898. He played 67 reds games without getting on the scoresheet before joining Preston in June 1901. He was forced to retire after breaking his leg, with a benefit match staged at Anfield between the two sides in September 1904.

Scottish inside-right Jimmy Ross joined Preston in 1883, top scoring as they won the first two League titles and also netting as they won the FA Cup in 1889. He grabbed an amazing 220 goals in 250 games for the Lilywhites before signing for the reds for a record £75 in 1894. The ‘little demon' led us to the Second Division title two years later, grabbing a total of 39 goals in 85 reds games before joining Burnley in March 1897. He was a key player in the formation of the Association Footballers' Union in February 1898, founded in protest at wage restrictions imposed by the FA.

Andy Beattie guested for the reds at full-back during the Second World War, and later spent some time on our backroom staff. He managed a host of clubs as well as the Scotland national side, working with Bill Shankly at Huddersfield Town, having played alongside him at Preston North End when he struck five times in 125 League matches before retiring from his only professional club in March 1947. He had joined them for £135 from Inverurie Loco Works in March 1935.

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