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George Ross ‘in bits’ at passing of friend

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George Ross made more than 400 appearances in a Preston North End, but it was four minutes on the pitch with Tom Finney which is still vivid in his memory.

The full-back arrived at Deepdale as a 15-year-old in 1958 and remembers how Finney was one of the senior North End players to take him under his wing.

He played alongside him just the once, in a post-season trip to Switzerland, and is thankful that he did.

Ross (pictured right), who is chairman of the North End Former Players’ Association, told the Evening Post: “The news of Sir Tom’s passing has left me in bits. I’m numb.

“He was a great footballer and a great man.

“My memories of Sir Tom go back to when I was a nervous 15-year-old arriving from Scotland to join the Preston groundstaff – that’s what the apprentices were called then.

“Sir Tom and Tommy Docherty would look out of the younger lads like myself, Alan Spavin and Peter Thompson.

“When the first-team players finished training, they would come and watch the young lads train.

“For us, that was simply magnificent, a real feather in our cap.

“At the end of a season when Sir Tom was coming towards the end of his career, Preston went on a tour of Switzerland to play a few friendlies. North End took Peter Thompson and myself along for experience.

“I was 16 at the time, and to be mixing with the first-team players was magnificent.

“I was in the same cab to Manchester Airport with Tom and he chatted away with me like I was one of his team-mates – that was beyond my wildest dreams.

“In one of the games we played in Switzerland, I got on as a substitute for the last four minutes.

“It was the one and only time I played in the same team as Sir Tom, and I’m honoured to say that I did.

“Sir Tom was a hero of mine.

“I had a lot of contact with him through our roles in the Former Players’ Association.

“I would think that Deepdale will be packed for the Leyton Orient game – that would be a fitting tribute to the man.”

 

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