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  Friday, 14 February, 2003, 12:38 GMT
Preston's potting proud
Preston has a great sporting tradition

If the Crucible is the Stephen Hendry of snooker venues, then Preston's Guild Hall is unquestionably the Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Always slick in presentation, the arena is renowned for attracting colourful and occasionally controversial crowds.

But, like the Rocket, the tournament winner is always impossible to predict.

Earlier this year, Preston won the coveted prize of Golden City status.

Calling itself "Proud Preston", the former cotton town based its city bid on its history, location, university and the fact that it is the traditional centre of Lancashire.

With over 25,000 students, the University of Central Lancashire in Preston is the seventh largest and one of the fastest growing universities in the UK.

Preston facts
Population of 135,000
Awarded city status in April 2002 by the Queen
Located at the centre of Lancashire's business and transport network
The commercial and administrative centre of Lancashire
Economy is largely based on traditional manufacturing industries such as textiles and engineering.
Culturally, Preston has much to be proud about including the Harris Museum and Art Gallery as well as the National Football Museum - home to FIFA, the World Football Authority's, historic collection.

Preston's famous sporting sons include Sir Tom Finney and Andrew Flintoff.

Finney was a legend for both local side Preston North End and England.

More recently, Flintoff has emerged as a key player in England's cricketing revival.

But snooker has always been at the heart of Preston's involvement with sport.

The city hosted the UK Championship for 20 years before its switch to Bournemouth in 1998.

The Guild Hall always brought out the best in the likes of Steve Davis, Alex Higgins and Stephen Hendry.

And when snooker returned to Preston in the shape of the LG Cup last year, the Lancashire crowds flocked back to see Stephen Lee defeat Peter Ebdon in an exciting final.

But Ronnie O'Sullivan, who won his first major tournament in Preston back in 1993, will be anxious to make sure Lee does not come up trumps at the Guild Hall for a second successive year.


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