Andy Preece arrived slightly late for an afternoon chat at Victory Park, where he is the manager of part-time National League North club Chorley. He had been planning the evening’s training session and with only a couple of regular season games to go, he is hoping to guide his team into the play-offs, a satisfying way to celebrate his 750 games as a manager. Preece has had a long career in football, as a player for Wrexham, Stockport County, Blackpool, Bury and Crystal Palace, and as a manager for Bury, Northwich and Chorley, where he earned the distinction of becoming the first black English manager to both qualify a team for European football and then take them into the competition.
Statistics show that black managers are not given the same opportunities as their white counterparts, and Preece is placing a lot of faith in the Black Footballers Partnership to challenge these statistics and push for change. He has experienced racism throughout his career, including nearly having his own ‘Eric Cantona moment’ towards the end of his playing days when he jumped into the crowd during a reserve game for Blackpool against Leicester to confront a supporter who had taken exception to the colour of his skin. He also asked for a fan to be removed for racially abusing him as a manager.
Preece advises other would-be managers to “believe you can change things” and to “believe in yourself and your ability”. After reaching 750 games as a manager, he is now looking at making it to 1,000. With his passion for the game still strong, Preece is determined to use his voice to challenge the status quo and push for change.