Deepdale is a football stadium in the Deepdale area of Preston, England, and it’s where Preston North End plays their home games. Some folks claim Deepdale is the oldest football stadium still in use, although there’s a bit of a debate about it. Back in the day, the land where the stadium now sits used to be Deepdale Farm. The sports club of the town, North End, leased it on January 21, 1875. At first, they used it for cricket and rugby. But the big moment for football came on October 5, 1878, when they had their first-ever football match there. They even tried a bit of baseball at Deepdale! On June 21, 1890, Preston North End Baseball Club played their first professional game there, but they lost 6-9 to Derby Baseball Club.
As football became more and more popular, they needed some raised areas for the fans to watch the games comfortably. So, they came up with the idea of football terraces. Back in the 1890s, Preston built the West Paddock along the sideline and even put up a tent to use as changing rooms.
By the early 1900s, the crowds got bigger, regularly exceeding 10,000 fans. In 1921, they had to expand once more. That’s when they built the Spion Kop and made the West Paddock longer to reach the Kop end. They even had to take out the pitch to construct the Town End, which was finished in 1928. Unfortunately, it got hit by a fire just five years later and had to be rebuilt. They also added the Pavilion Stand, a smaller two-tier stand that had changing rooms and offices, and it opened in 1934. The biggest crowd ever at Deepdale for a Preston North End league match was 42,684 when they faced Arsenal in the First Division on April 23, 1938. Fun fact: The women’s team Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, used to play there too, and they often beat professional men’s teams in front of huge crowds. In the 1960s and 1980s, they made some major changes. They put roofs on the stands, added seats, and extended the terraced areas.
Back in 1913, there was a pretty wild event. As part of the suffragette movement’s bombing and arson campaign, they were fighting for women’s right to vote. Suffragettes were carrying out bombings and arson attacks all across the country to get attention for their cause. In April 1913, some suffragettes tried to set fire to Ewood Park’s grandstand, but they didn’t succeed. However, in the same year, they did manage to burn down Arsenal’s stadium in South London. They also gave it a shot at burning down Blackburn Rovers’ stadium. They were targeting traditionally male-dominated sports to protest against the dominance of men.
Back in 1986, Preston North End had an interesting idea. They decided to install an all-weather pitch to make some extra money by renting it out to local teams for games. This would also help reduce the number of canceled matches and allow the Deepdale pitch to be used for training. At the time, only four football stadiums in the English league had a plastic pitch, and Deepdale was one of them.
However, fans didn’t really like the plastic pitch, and it ended up being removed in 1994. By that time, it was the last plastic pitch in the English league.
The idea for the revamped stadium came from the Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa, Italy. The makeover of Deepdale kicked off in 1995 when they tore down the old West Stand to create room for the new Sir Tom Finney Stand, which cost £4.4 million. This new stand even had spaces for the press and restaurants.
The Bill Shankly Kop got its facelift in 1998, and the Alan Kelly Town End followed suit in 2001, replacing the beloved Town End terrace. They also put up a massive 25-meter screen on top of the Bill Shankly Kop in 2008.
In the 2008-09 season, the old ‘Pavilion’ stand was swapped out for the ‘Invincibles Pavilion,’ named after the 1888-89 Preston North End team that was the first League champion. It was also the first team to pull off a League and FA Cup Double and the only English team to go unbeaten in both League and Cup in a season. The Invincibles Pavilion has executive boxes, a restaurant with a view of the pitch, and space for the Stadium Control Room, PA Box, Big Screen Control Room, and an NHS walk-in center.
Deepdale is now an all-seater stadium with a total capacity of 23,404, broken down like this:
- Sir Tom Finney Stand: 7,893
- Bill Shankly Kop: 5,933
- Alan Kelly Town End: 5,859
- Invincibles Pavilion: 3,719
Right outside the Sir Tom Finney Stand, there’s a statue of the legendary player, Sir Tom Finney. It was made by sculptor Peter Hodgkinson, who happens to be from Preston. This special statue was created as a gift for Finney’s 80th birthday and was revealed to the world in July 2004. The inspiration behind the statue came from a photo taken during the Chelsea versus PNE game at Stamford Bridge in 1956.