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A History of the origin and ultimate demise of the
Preston Grammar School Old Boys
and Preston Grammar School Associates Football Clubs

This page last updated 19th July 2013

The Football Club was once part of the PGS Old Boys' Association's Athletics Section and it is almost as old as the Association itself (and, it could be argued, older!). Less than 20 years after the Football League was formed, a meeting was held in 1907 (probably 1906 - see Note below - Ed) to establish an Old Boys’ Football Club for the following season. At that meeting the Club was formally constituted, with Lord Derby agreeing to become President, a role he kept on for several years. The very first game was an away fixture against the Catholic Boys’ Day College Old Boys FC (a ‘needle’ match?). Home games were initially played behind the Bridge Inn, Penwortham, before a move to Riverside, near the Old Tram Bridge, a year later.

The Football Club experienced a break in activity on account of the Great War, and was not revived until the mid-1920s. In 1930 it was elected to the Lancashire Amateur League, with the first fixture being a home one (at Fishwick) against Baines Grammar School Old Boys (Poulton). The score was 8-2! More good days were to come, as in 1938 both the First and Second XIs won their respective Divisions, with N Rhodes being Captain of the First XI. However, war interrupted again, with the LAL being suspended, and by 1945, when the League was re-constituted, the Old Boys had clearly lost their momentum! It was 1964 before the First Division Championship was won again, and, sadly, it has never been repeated. Some of the ‘lads’ from the 1964 team still regularly attend Association Annual Dinners, and the team included such legends as Bob Booth, Eric Mills, Syd Gillibrand, Pete (“what’s a pass?”) Hedingham, George Goring (the Captain), Andy Sumner, and not forgetting Brian Hall, who went on to play for Liverpool.

In the ensuing years there were several lower team successes, but the end of the Grammar School soon signalled the loss of the Fishwick pitches, and a change of name to the "Associates". The chill factor at Clifton Marshes saw off many an opponent, before the Club returned to Fishwick (the Games Ground) via Whittingham and the London Road Running Track. The Home games were ultimately played at the UCLAN Sports Arena at Cottam.

Membership of the LAL continued until 2001, when logistics forced a switch to the Preston & District league. Along the way the minor triumphs continued, and the Team eventually became successful again on the pitch. To ensure that the 2011/2012 season’s fixtures could be fulfilled, the Association decided to give a one-off donation of £300 to the Club, as sponsorship, specifically for the increased cost of referees in the Premier Division. Another Old Boy, Ray Eccles, also donated. The lads, still proudly bearing the name Preston Grammar School Associates Football Club (by choice!), did not disappoint, finishing 5th in their Division, and actually winning the Preston Guildhall Cup! A number of Old Boys attended the Semi-Final, but fate decreed that the Final was held on the same evening as the Association's AGM! Nevertheless, the roof was raised when the result was declared!

In 2011 a former player and OB Syd Gillibrand offered to match the PGSA donation for the 2012/2013 season, provided that the Team did not get relegated! This promise was so well kept that he saw fit to increase the amount! So the name PGS lived on, thanks to the donations and the continuing efforts of Andy Sumner, Jim Barwise and Bob and Dave Finch. Some Old Boys began attending games as spectators - just like the old days! Following a re-organisation of the local football league structure the team played the 2012/2013 season in the Mid Lancashire League Premier Division. That unfortunately is the end of the story. In July 2013 the decision was finally taken to disband the Club because of a combination of increasing but unaffordable financial demands, and the unavoidable ageing of the management. On Wednesday 3rd July 2013 the following article appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post (from which it is reproduced verbatim, with kind permission of the publisher).

No extra time for old boys' network

It is the end of the road for a once proud and distinguished local amateur football club.
Preston Grammar School Associates FC was formed in 1908, originally as Preston Grammar School Old Boys.
Attracting former pupils of the school, who wished to continue playing football long after their school days had finished, the club boasted five teams in its heyday and a thriving membership.
They were one of the 'giants' of the Lancashire Amateur League for m ore than 70 years and won the LAL first Divisionn league championship in 1938 and later in 1964 when they gloriously defeated arch-rivals Broughton Amateurs 4–1 in a play-off decider.
In the Old Boys team that day was a fresh-faced Brian Hall, who later went on to star in Bill Shankly's great Liverpool teams of the late 60s and early 70s.
But the writing has been on the wall for the club ever since the school, which was situated in Moor Park Avenue, ceased to be a grammar school.
Over the years the club has suffered a slow, but terminal, decline in its membership as the number of old boys began to dry up. After changing to its present name in 1972, the club continued to fare strongly both on and off the pitch through the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s.
However, over the past decade, the club has increasingly found it difficult to keep its head above water.
They left the LAL in 2001 due to the long-distance travelling involved in away games and moved into the Preston and District League, running three teams initially before that was reduced to just one team.
Two years ago the club was rescued from extinction by funding from the Old Boys' Association and two ex-players Sid Gillibrand and Ray Eccles.
And for a time, the club enjoyed a renaissance on the pitch as it won promotion to the Premier Division and won the Guildhall Cup in 2012.
However, that appears to have been only a temporary reprieve and the club's four-man committee – made up of secretary Andy Sumner, treasurer Jim Barwise and father and son management duo Bob and David Finch – have decided that the 2012/13 season will be the club's last.
Sumner, who was a member of the 1964 title-winning team, said: “After the grammar school's closure in 1968, the influx of old boys into the club has dwindled.
The last old boys to leave the school would be over 60 years of age now.
I have been involved with the club as a player since leaving school and played my last game in 1999.
I have been a former captain, manager, youth team coach, chairman and president.
So it is particularly sad moment for me.
The club would have folded two years ago because of our financial problems but we were saved by generous sponsorship from Sid Gillibrand and Ray Eccles and the Old Boys' Association.
But we only have a four-man committee now and all of us are not getting any younger.
We have basically run out of funds – we have just closed the club's account and withdrawn our last £40 which we will be donating to charity”.
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Editor's Note: A letter from a C S Watt (a member of that original team) published in the Hoghtonian for Summer 1948 states "My most interesting possession is a photograph taken in 1906 outside the Pavilion on the Catholic Day College ground, and, (if I remember rightly) it was the occasion of our first match".
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