Shrewsbury Town's last goalscorer in English football’s third tier was a cult hero to all of blue-and-amber persuasion.
And should Paul Parry produce many more magical moments to rival his stunning Greenhous Meadow introduction last night, similar acclaim to that received by the ever-popular Dean Spink will be guaranteed.
A deliciously pure 20-yard strike in just the fourth minute of the winger’s competitive home debut settled this tight, intense encounter and ensured Shrewsbury claimed a notable scalp early on in League One proceedings.
One controlled swing of the left boot, after Mark Wright’s left-wing free-kick had been half-cleared by Preston, offered a tantalising glimpse into the quality which earned Parry 12 international caps and which suggests he could prove a talismanic figure for Graham Turner’s side this season.
The script could not have been more fitting, the Welsh wizard not only casting a spell on the club where he spent three seasons prior to this summer but also levelling the early-season old- boy score at exactly the same moment that former Shrewsbury loanee David McAllister had struck the decisive blow at Sheffield United three days earlier.
And the significance of this victory in the context of Town’s campaign should not be under-estimated.
The first League points of the season are always amongst the most significant and hardest to come by, particularly for divisional new-boys.
Doubts may have crept into the Town psyche had the search for a victory dragged on for any length of time.
But defeating a side fancied by the bookmakers at least to mount a promotion challenge swept such fears aside.
It was a victory Shrewsbury fans had waited a decade-and-a-half to savour at this level and one their side just about merited on a high-octane evening.
In truth, there was arguably a greater poise, purpose and precision about Town’s performance in possession in the defeats at both Leeds and Sheffield United.
But a physical Preston side ensured an entirely different challenge was posed here, and one which the hosts met head-on.
Amongst the evening’s most satisfying factors for Turner would have been a first clean sheet of the campaign, the costly lapses of the two previous trips to Yorkshire left behind on a night of rare dips in concentration.
Preston had their moments. Nicky Wroe – who along with visiting captain Shane Cansdell-Sherriff received a warm reception from the home sections of a healthy 6,444 crowd – was the pick of the visitors’ performers.
And he came within a whisker of capping an eye-catching display with a goal when his second half free-kick fizzed inches past Chris Weale’s post after he forced a first-half save from the Town shot-stopper with another effort from distance.
Weale survived a scare when he bravely collected but then allowed to slip from his grasp a searching through-ball from Wroe before Michael Hector mopped up the danger, while Jones produced an inspired goal-saving block to deny Chris Beardsley before the break.
But, on a night when Rob Purdie deservedly claimed the man-of-the-match honours for an outstanding shift at left-back and Jones, Hector and Jermaine Grandison were all worthy of special mentions, Shrewsbury succeeded in limiting Preston to occasional flurries of pressure rather than allowing them to build up momentum.
At the other end, Town could point to a Darren Jones header from a Wright corner which clipped the post as further evidence they were worthy of victory, while impressive tempo-setting captain Matt Richards curled a free-kick just wide.
As the seconds ticked down on a night of relatively few clear chances, so the decibels cranked up and the Shrewsbury faithful were left celebrating a victory which extends the remarkable unbeaten home run to 33 games.
Town may be adjusting to life at a higher level, but it hasn’t taken long for normal service to be resumed at the Greenhous Meadow.
Shrewsbury: Weale, Grandison, Jones, Hector, Purdie, Parry (Taylor 86), Richards, Summerfield (Hall 75), Wright, Morgan, Gornell (Bradshaw 86). Subs not used: Anyon, Jacobson, Hazell, Wildig. Booked: None.
Preston: Stuckmann, Keane, Huntingdon, Cansdell-Sherriff, Laird, Monakana, Wroe, Welsh, Holmes (Amoo 63), King (Sodje HT) (Cummins 81), Beardsley. Subs not used: Simonsen, Robertson, Buchanan, Procter. Booked: Welsh (90, foul on Grandison)
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)
Attendance: 6,444 (1,016 from Preston)