Where Are They Now? Preston’s Division 3 Champions 1970/71
by Neil Fissler
ALAN BALL Snr proved that persistence finally pays off when he made Bobby Ham the final piece of his promotion-winning jigsaw at Deepdale.
Promotion for Ball wasn’t an option, it was a requirement, and to make matters worse Brian Clough’s Derby County had just signed midfielder Archie Gemmill.
Ball needed a big signing and remembered he had tried before to sign Ham without any luck. After being turned down a second time, he refused to give in and eventually got his man.
He was convinced that Preston were going to win the Third Division title and his pre-season pep talk consisted of ‘You are going to win the Third Division championship this season lads, give me 100 per cent’.
Ball was proved to be right as Preston won the title, finishing one point ahead of runners-up Fulham.
Ham recalled: “Alan first tried to take me to Halifax when he was in charge there. I was at Bradford at the time and, being a Bradford lad, I was happy there.
“Then when he came to Preston he tried to sign me again, but I turned him down originally. They had just sold Archie Gemmill to Derby and they wanted someone to replace him.
“I turned him down but he pestered me for about three weeks so I agreed to go over and sign! I think they were 18th in the league at the time.
“I signed on the Tuesday and I made my debut at Plymouth the following Saturday and scored – as I did on my home debut against Brighton.
“From then we went through until February against Gillingham when we were winning 1-0 and lost 2-1. That was the first time I had been on a losing side in a league game for Preston.
“That run put us into contention and then we clinched promotion in the last couple of games of the season.”
Ham went on to net ten vital goals to help Preston pip Fulham. They clinched the two promotion spots at the expense of Ball’s former employers, Halifax Town, and Aston Villa.
Ham, ironically now a director at FC Halifax Town, admits that all he ever dreamt about was scoring goals.
“My forte was scoring goals, playing off a big forward, being in there where it matters and sticking the ball in theback of the net,” he said.
“Bally came in for me and it worked. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
“All I ever dreamt about was scoring goals and it is all I ever wanted to do – hit the back of the net. I scored on all my debuts.
“I scored goals wherever I went because that was my game. But we had a class side for the old Third Division at the time.
“From Alan Kelly in goal, Jim McNab who was at Sunderland, Alan Spavin, Graham Hawkins, Clive Clark, Gerry Ingram, we had an absolute wealth of talent.”
- Arthur Cox: He went on to manage Chesterfield, Newcastle United and Derby County. Later coached at Manchester City and Newcastle before retiring.
- George Ross: A full-back, he worked as a planning assistant at British Aerospace until he retired. Is now club ambassador at Deepdale.
- David Hughes: The winger became head of football at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley. Then returned to Scotland where he became a behaviour support officer in East Lothian.
- Gerry Ingram: A striker who stayed on in America after finishing his career there to work in the construction industry and stage football camps. Is now retired, living in his native Humberside.
- Gerry Stewart: A goalkeeper who became the principal lecturer in economics and analysis at Leeds Metropolitan University.
- Alan Kelly: The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper managed Preston, then coached at Everton and in the United States. Lived in Maryland at the time of his death from cancer in May 2009.
- Jim McNab: A central defender who ran a pub and was then employed in the insurance industry before his death in Sunderland in June 2006, aged 66.
- John Bird: A defender who managed Hartlepool United, York City and Halifax Town. Is now a commercial artist with his own gallery and studio in picturesque Bawtry near Doncaster.
- Graham Hawkins: A defender who went on to manage Wolves, he also dabbled in the pub and pottery industries. Then worked for the Football League until retirement.
- Harry Hubbick: The first team trainer worked with Alan Ball Snr at Halifax before joining Preston. He died in March 1992, aged 81.
- George Lyall: The midfielder is now based in Allestree, Derbyshire, after going into a successful partnership in the chemical industry. He also ran a motorcycle repair business.
- David Wilson: The winger settled locally, working in the family butcher’s and in a sausage manufacturing business.
- Clive Clark: A winger who ran holiday accommodation in Filey, North Yorkshire, with his wife, he died in May 2014, aged 73.
- Alan Spavin: The inside forward settled in the States where he opened an indoor soccer school with Alan Kelly Snr. Also owned a travel agents. Lived at Ormond Beach, Florida, and sadly passed away last Wednesday, aged 74.
- Alan Ball Snr: The father of World Cup winner Alan, he went on to manage Southport and Halifax again. He died in a motor accident in Cyprus in 1982.
- Bobby Ham: A striker who went on to become a successful businessman when he formed the Ham Group. Has been a director of Bradford City and FC Halifax Town.
- Bert Patrick: A defender who returned to Scotland and joined the fire service. He died at his Kilsyth home in March 2015, aged 68.
- Ricky Heppolette: An Indian- born winger who settled in Peterborough where he runs his own business, The Party Shop Superstore.
- Alex Spark: The defender lived in Leeds where he sadly died of Buerger’s disease in August 1993, aged 43, after having both legs amputated.
John McMahon: The full-back is living in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. Worked in car sales before going to work at Manchester airport.
Norrie Lloyd: A midfielder, he became a publican, running a couple of pubs in Preston and another in Leyland. He then moved his business to Spain and is now retired.
Tagged Alan Ball Snr, Preston, Preston North End, Where are they now?