Seeing a star player join a local rival is never easy for fans to take, and that was certainly the case with Ross Wallace.
Alan Irvine swooped in the summer of 2008 to sign Wallace, taking him on an initial loan deal from Sunderland before turning the move permanent in January 2009.
Wallace, according to Transfermarkt, had a simply ridiculous first season at Deepdale; he bagged five goals and a staggering 20 assists, proving to be money well spent for Preston.
Wallace made the left wing spot his own, and was arguably Preston’s best player in that spot since Eddie Lewis. Seven goals and 11 assists in his second season served only to prove that Wallace was a star with Preston, and he helped ensure North End stayed afloat in the Championship amid continued financial issues.
The summer of 2010 was a big one for North End; the club was served with a winding-up order, Trevor Hemmings stepped in to save the club, and Darren Ferguson presided over a huge turnover of players within the Preston squad.
Sadly, one of the players to go was Wallace. Local rivals Burnley swooped in, taking advantage of Preston’s money problems to tempt Wallace into the move to Turf Moor.
The Scottish wide man was a regular in the Championship, helping the Clarets win promotion to the Premier League in 2014. He only played 15 times in the top flight, but he was an important figure for Burnley under Sean Dyche.
Spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Fleetwood Town and St Mirren have followed, and the former Preston hero has now looked back on his career with Open Goal and former Celtic teammate Si Ferry.
Wallace admitted that he thought Preston had great fans and an impressive stadium, which sold him on the move after meeting Alan Irvine. Wallace added that he loved his time at Preston and didn’t really want to leave, with Callum Davidson begging him to stay, but owner Hemmings told him that the club were struggling and that he had to go – a move Wallace doesn’t regret.
“I met Alan Irvine in Glasgow, he said ‘come and play at Preston’, and I’d played at Preston a few times,” said Wallace. “It was a brilliant atmosphere, it was a good stadium, he said ‘come and play’, and I thought ‘yeah I’ll go and play, that’ll be good.”
“I wasn’t going to leave, I had a brilliant time at Preston – I loved Preston. I spoke to Callum Davidson, he was like ‘don’t go, don’t go’, but I think Preston were struggling for money. I think Burnley put in £1million, I don’t know why, and Preston were struggling. The owner said ‘Listen Ross, you need to go, we’re struggling financially’, so I went there and it was brilliant, best move I’ve done,” he added.