A look back at the night Fred Pickering scored a hat-trick to secure promotion for Blackpool and effectively relegate PNE at the same time

Fred Pickering famously scored a hat-trick against Preston North End to secure promotion to the old First Division
Fred Pickering famously scored a hat-trick against Preston North End to secure promotion to the old First Division
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Following the sad news that former Blackpool forward Fred Pickering has passed away at the age of 78, we take a look back at the game he will be most fondly remembered for wearing the famous tangerine jersey.

READ MORE: Former Blackpool star Fred Pickering - the forward who bagged a hat-trick to relegate PNE - dies aged 78

Fred Pickering bagged a sublime hat-trick in the Lancashire derby to forever etch his name in Blackpool folklore - promoting the Seasiders to the First Division while effectively relegating Preston North End at the same time.

Blackpool didn't just win, they were streets ahead of a Preston side who will now be relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their long and illustrious history.

In what was the most important match since the 1953 Cup Final for Blackpool, five-star Seasiders won by a mile.

And the man they have to thank is hat-trick hero Fred Pickering, who was right on the spot to clinch victory with three great goals which sent the Blackpool supporters in the 34,000 crowd mad with delight.

Pickering, the ex-Blackburn Rovers, Everton and Birmingham City striker, and top scorer for Blackpool during the 1969/70 season, took his goal tally for the club to 18 as Preston were systematically taken to pieces.

And not even the most rabid Preston fan could complain about the result of this match. North End were white mice who crumpled in the face of the terrors in tangerine.

For ten brief minutes at the start of the game it looked as though it might be a contest but Pickering's 16th-minute opening goal for Blackpool demolished that idea.

This was Blackpool's biggest away win of a memorable season and I venture to say it was probably the easiest away game they have played this season, although theirs was a fine performance and no one would want to take anything away from them.

The Blackpool fans – and they seemed to constitute at least half the crowd packed into Deepdale – had it virtually all their own way.

Only 16 minutes had elapsed when Blackpool struck with chilling force. Mickey Burns moved away on the right, held off a tacke from left back Jim McNab and floated over a perfect centre for Pickering to head home off the inside of the post.

Preston's reply was lethargic. Only Archie Gemmill, the little forward whose skill and appetite for work has made him a target for other clubs, constituted any threat.

Gemmill was responsible for two of Preston's three goal efforts in the entire match ... none of which, I might add, troubled Blackpool goalkeeper Harry Thomson to any extent.

Blackpool, always moving quicker to the ball had time to look up and direct their passes accurately as Preston stumbled around in midfield hesitated at the back and never looked capable of pulling back the deficit.

Five minutes from the interval Blackpool struck again and effectively killed off the game as a contest as Tommy Hutchison ,who tormented the Preston defence, kept the ball in play on the left touchline before sending a peach of a ball up the line to Bill Bentley, who had intelligently run on for the ball.

Bentley's cross was perfection itself and Pickering again lying handy in the box, rammed the ball straight into the net with his head.

This goal was the best executed of the three and it tolled the death knell of Preston's hopes.

In the second half, too, Blackpool always dictated things with the sparkling Hutchison a terror to the Preston defence.

In the 58th minute the leggy winger raced past Bert Patrick for the umpteenth time to crack in a great shot that Alan Kelly only half-stopped. As the ball squirmed out of the keeper's grasp, opportunist Pickering was there to tap it over the line.

Three up with more than a third of the game still to go. Blackpool were in easy street and quite honestly they were in a different class.

In the closing minutes almost every Blackpool supporter in the ground broke into a thunderous chant of 'Blackpool, Blackpool'.

And it was a merited tribute for a fine team performance from a side who were always bosses.

This was a glorious moment for the jubilant Blackpool supporters and in the midst of the heady celebrations, chairman William Cartmell declared that it was "only the beginning" for Blackpool.

"Now we have to work and plan for the future," declared the chairman. "Now we must think of going into Europe."

Cartmell, a successful local businessman who had taken over just 12 months before, added: "It's not really time to celebrate; it's time to roll up our sleeves and get on with the hard work.

"We have ambitions. Not only do we want to stay in the First Division,we want to make a success of it.

"We want to give our supporters not only First Division football but European football as well and the aim for me is to finish high enough next season to qualify for the Fairs Cup competition at least."