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Democratic Publishing, Social History, and Silly Hats - Welcome to #GentryDay

March 4th this year is Gentry Day, a traditional Preston North End football club celebration sparked by comments from a manager in the 70s that the travelling PNE fans were 'absolute gentry'. Fans wear bowler hats to mark an annual celebration of football, local culture, and friendships past and present - the day is, for many, an opportunity to remember fans no longer with us. The WZ team will be getting involved this year, engaging with the remarkable PNE fan base, the local media, including the Lancashire Evening Post, the club itself, and the faculty and students of the highly regarded University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) school of journalism. The objective is to make a lasting record of a unique moment of football and social history.

We’re very excited about participating in Gentry Day, and hopefully creating something special from snapshots - AV clips, pictures, text - of individual experiences of the day. It’s all about celebrating football fans, past and present, enjoying a grand day out, and the social history of Preston North End supporters.

In essence, we’re looking to make a documentary film and an e-book of this Gentry Day phenomenon.

Gentry Day is an annual away-day celebration of being a Preston North End fan (PNE is a great club with a fine tradition – winners of the FA Cup and league double in 1888 – sceptics say it’s been downhill ever since). As well as being a celebration of the present, the day is a commemoration of the past, a way of paying respect to fellow fans who have passed away in the preceding year, and earlier years.

On one level, it’s a good excuse to dress up and have fun. The tradition came about when a manager in the early 1970s complimented the PNE away support, terming them 'gentry'. The PNE fans responded by wearing bowler hats (and some even wear suits, too) to the game on the annual nominated Gentry Day.

This year, Wet Zebra wants to make a lasting record of the fans who keep the Gentry Day tradition. We have approached the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Post, and - most importantly - the PNE fans to come together for this special project. We hope to record the day's experiences in one place by using the hashtag #GentryDay.

Back in the day - the PNE team who won the Football League title in 1888-89. Old school glory.

Back in the day - the PNE team who won the Football League title in 1888-89. Old school glory.

In conjunction with UCLan’s school of journalism, we’ll collate the material, and weave the snippets we gather together to form a picture of the day. If we get a lot of quality footage, text and photos, we'll create a documentary-style film that explains the day, and chronicles the experience of the travelling fans - from Preston and the North, London and the South, Paris, New York and Norway.

Both UCLan and PNE are very supportive of the project (with participation from the management and playing staff a very strong possibility - bear in mind, football professionals put football first, and take each dressing-up-in-a-bowler-hat opportunity as it comes). UCLan and PNE have also said they will put on free screenings of any consequent film. Anyone contributing material will be automatically invited to come along. We’ll also be looking to create an e-book out of the material, and possibly a physical book.

Wet Zebra is about the new style of democracy that comes from a world where everyone with a social media account has a voice. You write, you vote, we publish is our motto – just check out our home page.

Join us here.

Probably the single biggest piece of evidence of our democratic credentials is the fact that we have effectively abolished the editorial committee from the publishing process. The crowd decides. If there’s support, we swing into action and go for it. This project, in collaboration with thousands of football fans, the university and the football club takes the democratic process a step further.

Stay tuned for more news on our #GentryDay project - until then, c'mon the Lilywhites!