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.

George Ross
George Ross

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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