Preston Athletic was formed as a by-product of the mining community of Prestonpans when the miners of Preston Grange and Preston Links gave a penny out of their wages every week to keep it going. The coal industry was shut down in Prestonpans in the 1960s and Preston Athletic were left to fend for themselves like many other Junior Clubs in the Lothians. Preston is probably the only part of that era left in Prestonpans with the exception of the mining museum at Preston Grange .
Preston Athletic first took the field as a Junior Football Club in season 1945/46. Its founder members were Mr T Watters, Adam Boyd, Alec Boyd, Willie Hutchison, Matt McCauley and Hugh Raltoun. The players and committee being almost entirely from the local mining community of Prestonpans, the Club took over the pitch vacated by the recently defunct Prestongrange Rovers. The pitch was situated close by the Prestongrange Colliery where many of them were employed. Unfortunately the Club pavilion was burned down in 1948 and teams were forced to change in the “Black Bull” Public House, which once stood in the High Street about half a mile from the pitch.
Keeping their close links with mining, the Club moved in 1950 to a more suitable pitch at Preston Links Park. This had been vacated by Thorntree United and was adjacent to the other large Colliery in the area. This period was probably the best in the Club`s history when large crowds were attracted to the games. In the early 1960s the Colliery was closed as the area had been earmarked by the South of Scotland Electricity Board for Cockenzie Power Station. The Club found itself on the move again and this time settled at its present home, Pennypit Park. The park was built on the site of the former Penny Pit, one of the oldest mines in the area, although by this time less of the Club players were miners.
The Club`s very first professional coach was Paddy Buckley Senior, whose son, Paddy Junior went on from Preston Athletic to play for Hibs, Motherwell and Scotland. Tommy Nisbet was the trainer at this time and the first manager was Bill Inglis. Over the years many more players have gone on to play at a professional level with Clubs such as Southend, Raith Rovers, Workington, Aberdeen, Motherwell, Dunfermline, Berwick Rangers, Stenhousemuir, Hearts, Celtic and East Stirling.
Several honours were gained at the Club, most in the 1940s and 50s, the most recent being the Alec Jack Cup in season 94/95, in which we beat Craigroyston in the final.
The Club turned Senior in 1994 when we were accepted as a member of the East of Scotland Football League. In 1995 we applied for and were accepted as a member of The Scottish Football Association. During season 1999/2000 Preston applied for one of the two vacant Scottish Football League position but were rejected in favour of Peterhead FC and Elgin FC. The Club applied again in May 2002 but again were unsuccessful. The Scottish Football League voted for Gretna to join their ranks and they have been proved to be very successful.
On 7 December 2002 Preston made history when they played Hamilton Academical at home in the first round of the Scottish Cup. This was the first time that Preston had qualified for the Scottish Cup. It was also the first time that a Club from East Lothian had taken part in the Cup. We were promoted to the East of Scotland Premier after winning the first division League in 2001-2 then going on to win the Image Printers Cup and City Cup in 2003-4.
The Club again made a wee bit of history in season 2005-6 when we drew Gretna in the first round of the Scottish Cup. Gretna went on to the final only to get beaten by Hearts. Preston were the only team to take 2 goals off them in the Scottish Cup.
2006-7 and history was made yet again, when we won our first ever Scottish Cup game against 3rd division Stenhousemuir. We also went to the final of the Qualifying Cup against Annan Athletic.
In 2007-8 our Scottish Cup participation ended at the first hurdle with a 3-1 defeat to Golspie Sutherland.
On 11 April 2009 the Supporters Club was officially opened when we played Easthouses Lily.
After an uneventful season in 2009-10 we suffered relegation on the last day of the following season. Twelve months later, however, promotion was achieved on the final match after a 1-1 draw was secured at First Division winners Heriot-Watt University (who co-incidentally had also been relegated along with Preston the season before).
On 4 August 2012 Preston achieved their first away win in a Scottish Cup tie defeating Fort William 3-1 in a preliminary round tie. In November 2012, Preston was awarded an SFA Club Licence at entry level becoming the second club to achieve such an award in the East of Scotland League after Spartans.
Local lad, Sean Martin, has the distinction of scoring the very first goal in the 2012/2013 season William Hill Scottish Cup.
- 1945: Formed joined Edinburgh and District Junior League
- 1994: Turned Senior joined East of Scotland League
- 1995: Member of Scottish Football Association
- 2000, 2002 and 2008: Applied for full Scottish League membership
- 2012: Awarded SFA Club Licence
- 2013/14: Founding member of the Scottish Lowland League finishing 9th
- 2014/15: Finished 13th in the Scottish Lowland League