This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back on a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
The 2014/15 season will be remembered as being a very crucial one for Preston North End, with the club having headed into the campaign looking to ensure that they ended their four-year spell in League One and got back to the Championship.
The Lilywhites were in and around the top two in League One for most of the season, as they looked to go one better than the previous campaign, which had seen them lose to Rotherham United in the semi-finals of the play-offs, but Preston ultimately fell just short finishing in third place two points adrift of MK Dons.
However, this time Preston were not be denied in the play-offs, with the Lilywhites first managing to overcome Chesterfield in the semi-finals, before they secured a resounding 4-0 win against Swindon Town at Wembley to seal their promotion back to the Championship.
One player who Preston could not have achieved the success they did without that season was Jermaine Beckford, with the striker demonstrating just how integral he was to the side by turning up on the big occasion and registering a hat-trick in the play-off final against Swindon, while he had also scored in both legs of the semi-final against Chesterfield.
Beckford only arrived at Deepdale on loan for the rest of the season from Bolton Wanderers in November 2014, but he proved to one of the wisest investments the club could have made, with the forward linking up again with Simon Grayson who had enjoyed an impressive spell with at Leeds United.
The forward overall made 31 appearances in all competitions for the Lilywhites in the 2014/15 season, which saw him average better than a goal every other game, having managed to fire in an impressive tally of 18 goals, which saw him become the club’s second highest scorer behind the equally prolific Joe Garner.
Both Beckford and Garner formed a deadly partnership up front for the Lilywhites throughout the campaign, which was perhaps most devastatingly demonstrated during a 5-1 thrashing of Crewe Alexandra in mid-March, with the pair scoring all five goals between them and linking up very effectively throughout the contest.
QUIZ: Can you name the player who scored Preston North End’s first goal in each of the last 16 seasons?
The 2014/15 season saw Beckford somewhat restore his confidence and get back to the sort of form he had shown during his spell at Leeds that had earned him a big move to the Premier League with Everton in the summer of 2010 – and he had failed to hit double figures in a season in the four years after his move to Goodison Park.
The striker’s form for Preston during his loan spell in League One convinced the club to bring him in on a permanent deal in the summer of 2015 ahead of their first season back in the Championship, after he had been released by Bolton, but he would only go onto make ten appearances in the 2015/16 campaign.
The following campaign would prove to be his final one at Deepdale, and it saw him make 18 Championship appearances, which will be most remembered for an incident which saw him sent off for fighting his own team-mate Eoin Doyle in a defeat against Sheffield Wednesday.
Beckford’s form in the 2014/15 season, therefore, proved to be just a snapshot and not something that he was able to repeat, and he retired from football following the end of a two-year spell with Bury. For Preston supporters, they will always fondly remember him for his partnership with Garner and that hat-trick at Wembley against Swindon.