North End spent a total of six days there, returning on Thursday evening after taking part in a final training session that day.
There were several goals for travel, team cohesion, fitness and of course to get a game while they were there – they played Getafe in La Liga and lost 2-1 after taking the lead in a quick start to the game.
The game itself was an entertaining watch, as hundreds of North End fans can attest to making the trip – first to Benidorm and then to the golf resort where the game was played.
It was the first chance to see Robbie Brady in action and having been within yards of the former Burnley man during the game you can tell he is a top class player. It might sound strange, but his in-game communication is fantastic, his body language is brilliant and even his banter to the referee and other players shows he has a little something extra about him.
Football is played with both feet and head and you can see his experience at the highest level with the way he approaches the game.
Dana Amaral was another to stand out, despite only playing half an hour, and he looks like real talent who could be nurtured and propelled into Championship football immediately – although there will be three internationals, a former player of the season and the most picked last season’s midfielder in his own way.
PNE showed great intensity and application and that was pretty much all you could ask for, the result was the only downside although in pre-season it didn’t really matter.
Instead, however, the main thing was what was happening around the pitch.
The game was kind of the focus of the trip to Spain, but that wasn’t the whole trip, it was more about the meeting of the club and the fans.
In fairness to PNE supporters, they didn’t get much notice to travel to Spain, but they did it admirably anyway, just over a month after it was announced. I’m sure it was difficult for some to fit their summer vacation to the Lilywhites.
The impending arrival of the North End stalwarts was the players’ all-time subplot during the journey. They were there to work and train, but they all knew there was a generally unknown but significant number of fans ready to board Campoamor ready for the clash with Getafe.
Most usually arrived in Spain on Sunday or Monday, before Tuesday’s game. Then social media came into its own.
The PNE takeover of Benidorm has begun and images have flooded Twitter of flags, towels, shirts and masses of people, all in this rather unsuspecting holiday destination.
There were certainly worse ones to wear when the game arrived, and unfortunately due to some delays they missed PNE’s goal, but there were still plenty who arrived in time and made their voices heard. .
The herd of North Enders migrating down the hill to the game has been described by Ryan Lowe as something out of a movie.
The edges of the pitch were full of fans and the big picture of all the supporters and players at the end epitomized what the trip was really about. It was something Preston fans desperately needed, an away game abroad that they could share with friends and family by their side.
For many, it was something of a to-do list experience, described as a must-do or an “I was there” moment.
But it was the culmination of several days of far-reaching support and fan drops that had surged over those days.
There were North End fans staying in the same hotel as the team and it gave them the opportunity to meet the players, take pictures and chat. There were no barriers or stewards to block them, there were no tannoys blasting pop music blasting into the eardrums, just genuine interactions.
The players all had plenty of time for anyone who stopped them, they’re a good group.
I stayed at the same golf resort as the players and where the match was played.
PNE were accommodating and allowed the media to speak to a player and the manager before and after the game and we also got to watch Lowe work on tactics while preparing for the Getafe game training. But clashing with players or staff during the day was unavoidable.
Skipper Alan Browne, who was the last to leave the pitch on Tuesday to make sure every fan got what they wanted, stopped by to chat with us, simply asking about our summer and when we have arrived.
It was a relaxed environment that aimed to promote unity, whether inside the PNE camp or outside.
This has been very much felt by PNE fans and they have certainly risen to the occasion lately. There have been several calls for several things in recent years, as is the case with many supporters, but they have supported him.
A fan zone was provided by the club – and is being well used – attractive ticket prices have been put in place this summer – over 11,000 have been bought – a summer training camp was planned abroad with a friendly game – five coaches traveled over an hour to see the game.
The club and the fans seem to be in good harmony at the moment and it benefits both parties.
The trip to Spain will be a favorite for many supporters to follow their club and it’s definitely there for me.