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Sir Tom Finney - a fans’ view

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Scores of fans have paid tribute to the great Sir Tom Finney.

Here we hear from the fans who were inspired by the PNE and England legend, who died on Friday, age 91.

Gail Gornall, 63, has been a steward at PNE since the 99/2000 season. She said: “It is a very sad day, I didn’t see him play but my father was a season ticket holder.

“I knew his wife, she used to get her hair done by my cousin. I can tell you a funny story. My mother decided she would go and watch a football match, so my Dad took her.

“And she said: ‘I don’t know who that number seven is but he’s useless today” and my Dad said if the stand could have opened up that would have been it.

“She was never allowed to go again!”

David Yates, 70 from Ingol, Preston. He said: “I was three years old when I first went to watch Sir Tom I sat on my father’s knee in the West stand which is now the Sir Tom Finney stand.

“One of my first games was against Charlton Athletic in around 1947. I’m very fortunate to have seen most of Sir Tom’s home games.

“I met him several times socially and the old story about people saying they knew Tom was probably true. I bumped into him one day in Preston town centre and he said hello to me and it would have been my honour to have said hello to him.

“Maybe Tom remembered people or maybe he was just a friendly guy. He was Preston’s son - he was the thing that made Preston proud, many said we were a one man team and maybe in the 60’s when we got relegated that was true.

“But he meant so much to Preston. It will be an emotional day, I came down to get my ticket at 11.30 planned to go home again and I’m still here. I remember a game against Birmingham when we won 6-0 and Tom scored two.

“When PNE were having a bad time the manager asked Sir Tom to play centre forward, I think we won 6-0 against Man City and he played as a forward for the rest of his career.

Trevor, 70, said: “Today means a lot. I am very fortunate to have seen him play many times. It’s a sad day. Tom meant everything to the people of Preston, I’ve had phone calls today from Australia, my two daughters are out their and they are upset and a call from my sister in Oxford. He was an amazing man. I met him many times. I have a signed picture from him on my wall for my 60th birthday.

“He will be remembered as a footballer, a man and a gentleman. I remember him playing against Birmingham and he got the ball and ran from one end of the pitch. Means everything that the football community has come together.”

Christopher Leech from Preston. He said: “So sad at Sir Tom’s passing, I have tears in my eyes speaking about him.

“I wanted to come to the game and pray for him and stand up for him. I don’t come to the games much now, but I thought I had to come.

“He came and visited me, he had a great role in the community, I’m at Deepdale to pay my respects.”

Robert Mowatt from Preston said: “It is very sad. He was a very traditional player, very respectable. He visited my old school Corpus Christie back in the 1990s, it was very exciting to meet him. He even went out of his way to go and meet the caretaker. Hopefully we can push on, challenge for promotion and make him proud.

Stephen Moat and his five-year-old son Alfie who are both Preston North End season ticket holders.

Stephen said: “It was awful hearing the news, I was at home led in bed watching a DVD and Alfie was fast asleep.

“I got a text message from my mum and it was really out of the blue, such a shame on the eve of such a big game.

“It has brought the football community together I’ve been looking on the PNE and Blackpool websites and it brings tears to your eyes hearing all the tributes.

“It was busy this morning and seeing what Sir Tom meant to the club and the footballing world.

“It’s great to see the reaction of the Blackpool fans.

“We are season ticket holders, Alfie is a mini white season ticket holder and I’ve even got my mum a ticket.

“I’d like to think we will have a packed ground, everyone is getting together and clubbing together.

“I’ve seen a lot of younger people around Deepdale today and it is great to see the younger generation getting involved.”

Wayne Blinkhorn works for Preston’s College.

He said: “I’m from Preston and I do come down and watch the team regularly but I’m not a big North End fan.

“I heard the news last night and thought the city needs to pay its respects to him.

“The college is talking to some members of his foundation yesterday and it is so sad that a legend like Sir Tom has passed.”

Danny Roberts, 27 years old from Preston.

He said: “I’m absolutely gutted, I’ve been following North End all my life I’ve seen him up close and got his autograph when I was a kid.

“Great to see the response from the fans and it is nice to see Leyton Orient and PNE come together.

“I saw the news on Facebook, he was like the granddad of North End, it is so sad. I’m lost for words.

“He wasn’t just a footballer, he did a lot of work for charity and he was a great man.”

Bill Handslip who lives in Nottingham said: “I live in Nottingham now, but I travelled up yesterday to visit family in Morecambe.

“I was always coming to this game, I’m glad I made the trip. The news was gutting, I managed to see his last game.

“He’d take all these tributes in his stride and wonder what all the fuss is about.

“He’s the greatest player that has played for Preston, I’m lucky because I managed to see him play.

“My son and grandson never got to see him play but I hope the team can do him proud.”

Mark Whitside, 42, and his nine-year-old son Brandon from Lostock Hall. Brandon said: “The news is very sad, I think most North End fans will pay their respects

“It feels like a massive pleasure to thank Sir Tom Finney for what he has done at Deepdale.

“I go to Our Lady and St Gerard’s and everyone at school will be upset on Monday.

Mark said: “I think the interview has been done by my son. We are both season ticket holders and it is a very sad day and we are here to pay tribute to our greatest player.”

Paul Fletcher, 40, BBC Journalist who grew up in Preston.

He said: “Sir Tom meant an incredible amount to the people of Preston.

“It is no secret that Preston is known as proud Preston and to be proud you need something or someone to give you the pride and I think Sir Tom Finney went a long way to doing that.

“Everything that he did, he became indivisible with Preston. He was a one club man he was a great ambassador for the town.

“When you move away from Preston and people ask you who you support and you say you support PNE they always talk of Tom Finney and it is always a positive thing.

“It is a massive loss for the town but the great legend will never be forgotten.

“I heard about his ability as a player, how good he was - an incredible world class player, but also what a great human being he was, a humble man and considerate man and how much work he did in and around Preston for the community.

“I’d like to see the fans turn out in their numbers to pay tribute to Sir Tom.”

 

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