Preston North End’s club history stretches back to 1880 as of the finest football teams of the era. The Lilywhites emerged as an early force in the game as the first Invincibles in 1888/89.

Club name

Harry Carmel motioned the idea of founding a football club at Deepdale in May 1880 to help alleviate the financial burdens of Preston North End cricket club. Their origins date back as far as 1863 and used North End in the name to denote the area of Preston they were based.

Preston North End club badge

Preston North End v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images

Preston North End adopted their current badge and the ninth permanent design in the club’s history from July 2014. The Lilywhites made a minor adaption to the design the one used for the 2013/14 season to mark the 125th anniversary of their double-winning Invincibles term.

The club changed the text inside the ribbon below the shield on Preston’s badge which read ‘Invincibles 125 Years’ to ‘Established 1880’. It has since remained their official club crest for all kits, literature and merchandise. Laura Morris had designed the 125th-anniversary design.

Supporters had sought to retain the overall design of Preston’s anniversary badge. While the inclusion of ‘Established 1880’ added one further element signifying an element of the club’s storied history. It already had the historic crest of the city, plus PP to denote Princeps Pacis.

Preston’s previous badge, featuring the Lamb of St Wilfrid laying above the club’s name on a staggered shield, was only used between 2010 and 2013. Additionally, it was only a marginal alteration from the crest used between 1998 and 2010 by adding the staggered background.

The Lilywhites removed the dark blue background from the club’s badge used between 1996 and 1998 for their 1998-2010 crest. It was also the first badge in Preston’s history to feature the club’s name in full. Preston had previously only used the club’s initials on certain badges.

Just the letters PNE also made up Preston’s badge from 1974 to 1975. The Lilywhites moved away from their long-time crest of a five-sided shield with the Lamb of St Wilfrid used from 1933. While the lamb also returned on a light blue shield with just PP from 1975 until 1979.

Kit history

A white shirt with blue shorts has been Preston North End’s trademark kit throughout much of the club’s history. But the Lilywhites initially started off with blue and white hooped shirts from 1880 until 1884. They also moved to red and white striped shirts from 1884 until 1887.

The club would adopt their now trademark plain white shirts with blue shorts in 1887. Yet Preston have also used plain white shorts from 1974 to 1981, 1988 to 1990 and in 2011/12.

League history

Preston North End’s history has seen the club play in all four divisions of the professional league pyramid in England. The Lilywhites first entered a division as a founding member of the Football League in 1888/89. They remained a top-flight team until 1901/02.

The inaugural season of organised league football in England also saw Preston become the first Invincibles in 1888/89. Preston went the entire campaign unbeaten to win the first title. They also won the club’s first FA Cup during the tournament’s sixth edition in 1888/89.

Preston would defend their Football League title in 1889/90 before entering Division One in 1892/93 with the merger of the Football League and the Football Alliance. But the club fell from the top of the tree thereafter. They would also fall into the second tier from 1901/02.

It took Preston three years to return to the top flight but another relegation later followed in 1911/12. The Lilywhites became a yo-yo club for a brief period and struggled to move away from the lower regions of the top flight. Yet they would end the 1937/38 campaign in third.

Preston have not played in the top flight since the 1960/61 season

Tom Finney, David Moyes
Picture by Paul Broadrick. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport via Getty Images

Preston would prove capable of recording high finishes off and on in the top flight after the leagues resumed following WWII. But they fall down the pyramid again and spent the 1960s in the second tier. The club even kicked off the 1970s in the third tier for the first time ever.

The Lilywhites spent the 1970s and 1980s bouncing between the second and third tiers. But a new low followed in 1985 as Preston found themselves competing in the fourth tier for the first time. The Deepdale outfit would not return to the second tier until the 2000/01 season.

Preston nearly enjoyed a quick rise back into the top flight after reaching the play-off final in 2000/01. Another play-off final also followed in 2004/05. But Preston fell into League One from 2011 to 2015 and are still waiting to play in the top flight for the first time since 1961.

Preston North End trophies

Back-to-back Football League titles in 1888/89 and 1889/90 kicked off Preston North End’s trophy history in style. But the Lilywhites have failed to add to their two top-flight honours since. The Deepdale outfit have also finished as the top flight runners-up on six occasions.

Winning the FA Cup in 1888/89 after losing in the final the previous season also set Preston up as one of the finest teams of the era. But the Lilywhites have only added to their haul in the competition once. The club have never won the English Football League Cup (EFL Cup).

Players and managers

Tom Finney
Photo by Watford/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

With the club’s history stretching back to 1880, Deepdale has hosted a raft of Preston North End legends. There is also a statue outside the ground of arguably the Lilywhites’ greatest-ever player, Tom Finney. Preston also rechristened the main stand of their stadium after him.

Alan Kelly Sr is another Preston North End legend with a stand named after him having made a club-record 513 appearances. Whilst before becoming an iconic manager of Liverpool, Bill Shankly enjoyed a storied career at Deepdale. He is another with a stand named after them.

Only the Invincibles Pavilion at Deepdale does not honour a club legend. While David Moyes enjoyed a successful spell as a defender at Preston before retiring and becoming the club’s manager in 1998. It was under Moyes that the Lilywhites almost returned to the top flight.