A DAY in the life of soccer mad Ian Johnstone is a far cry from what you'd expect of one dedicated to the public life of a football club.

The keen North End fan is in charge of putting football into the community and raising the sport's popularity locally.

He organises everything from schoolchildren's birthday parties and five-a-side tournaments, to fitness training and even bingo nights!

"I love working with the public," enthused Ian: "It is always hectic but it's a very rewarding job."

In fact it is a job that has changed dramatically since North End became one of six clubs to start the Football In The Community scheme twelve years ago.

"We started after the Heysel disaster when English football was at its all time low.

"PNE were second from bottom in Division Four and the youngsters in the town all wore Liverpool and United shirts."

Now Ian deals with hundreds of people a week and thinks that North End are one of the most caring clubs in the country: "We cater for people of all ages and abilities including schools, ethnic groups, women and senior citizens." One major success for Ian has been the birthday parties he organises for local children.

"The kids have a great time, they play a game followed by some food and then the birthday boy or girl gets a signed football," he said.

He is proud of what he and his three assistants have achieved and believes it has tied in well with North End's rise as a bigger club.

"Now, as we speak, another new stand is taking shape, the fans are coming in and we are starting to build something big here at Deepdale," he said.

Indeed the football in the community scheme has never been so popular with some summer events such as soccer schools getting fully booked, weeks in advance!

When asked whether he enjoys working long hours, Ian is in no doubt: "It's great meeting new people and I really enjoy my job, after all I wouldn't be here if I didn't."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.