Gordon Preston: Detroit soccer pioneer (1927-2012)

Gordon Preston, one of the soccer pioneers in Detroit at both the grassroots and professional levels, died on Saturday at the age of 85. Preston was best known for helping bring the NASL's Express -- and English star Trevor Francis -- to Detroit.

A native of Farnsworth, England, Preston came to Detroit in 1956, helped start soccer programs at several private schools and promoted matches involving touring clubs.

He was the director of public relations for the Detroit Cougars, the city's first pro soccer club in 1967, and along with Roger Faulkner founded the Detroit Express, which joined the NASL for the 1978 season.

The Express brought Francis over on loan from the Birmingham City for the 1978 and 1979 seasons.

Preston later served on the bid committee that brought the 1994 World Cup to Detroit. In a coup for Detroit, local bid organizers convinced FIFA to hold games indoors in the Silverdome -- where the Express had played. Detroit was one of only nine cities to host.

Preston lived in recent years in the village of Chacala on Mexico's Pacific Coast but had recently returned to Detroit for treatment for a heart ailment. He died of complications following heart surgery.

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