Lee Clarke remembered a former Preston North End stalwart in this weekend’s Forest Review. He would also endear himself to Forest supporters during a two-year City Ground spell.
In my previous two pieces for this season’s Forest Review, I have chosen particular goals from games against our opponents in the past.
Preston North End throws up a slightly challenging proposition in that sense, with not too many of contests sticking in the memory.
I do remember them visiting us last season. Forest had 14 shots to Preston’s eight and 62% possession. We somehow lost the game 1-0 thanks to ex-Mansfield striker Louis Moult’s second-half strike.
There was another occasion where we ended up playing an FA Cup tie under the City Ground floodlights on a Friday night. It was arguably the most tedious 0-0 in our history, although somewhat fortuitous we edged through in the replay at Deepdale 2-0.
Like I say, nothing really gives me a ‘wow’ moment when the Lilywhites’ name is mentioned.
I’m penning these words just hours after a 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Derby, so it’d be easy to give you 400 lovely words on just how average Sabri Lamouchi’s free-flowing team made the Rams look. For the sake of professionalism, however, I won’t.
Instead, I’d like to look back at a player who supporters of both of today’s clubs will cherish fondly, Paul McKenna.
When Forest landed the defensive midfielder from Preston it was deemed very much a Billy Davies signing. The experienced head had excelled at Deepdale under Davies and he was desperately keen to sign him for Forest.
From McKenna’s first game in the Garibaldi, it was clear why he was signed.
Football can’t be all about fancy touches and taking three or four players on. For every Joe Lolley, there must be a McKenna-type figure.
Speaking theoretically, he never really moved from within 20 yards of the back four. His job was simple, protect the defenders, keep it simple and make sure you ask the referee for absolutely every single decision!
Ironically, McKenna didn’t score many goals, although his first for Forest came against Preston – a stunning long-range effort beyond Andy Lonergan, now at Liverpool!
The man who played 477 times for his hometown club and 67 games for the Reds was sorely missed when he departed both clubs.
He had led Forest with aplomb. Captaining a side that achieved back-to-back top-six finishes in the Championship and when he departed, he was sorely missed on Trentside.
McKenna was the sort of player you’d want with you in the trenches and he never shirked his responsibilities.