Memories of Sir Tom two years after his death

Photo Ian Robinson
Tributes at the Sir Tom Finney Splash Statue at Deepdale

Photo Ian Robinson Tributes at the Sir Tom Finney Splash Statue at Deepdale

3
Have your say

Two years ago today, the footballing world was in shock after learning of the death of Preston North End legend, Sir Tom Finney.

Sir Tom was royalty in Preston, 472 appearances wearing the North End shirt giving him such a status – as well as 76 England caps.

Send In

Tom Finney,Joe Marston and Tommy Docherty training at Deepdale

Picture sent in by Roy Payne

Send In Tom Finney,Joe Marston and Tommy Docherty training at Deepdale Picture sent in by Roy Payne

He was arguably the greatest player of his era, at a time when footballers were working men earning the same wage as the man in the street.

After news broke late on the Friday night of his death aged 91, tributes poured in from across the world, from former team-mates, former opponents, managers, players and supporters.

He was something else, the Lionel Messi of his day,” said Tommy Docherty, who played with Finney between 1949 and 1958.

“He was a great person and a lovely man. I never heard him criticise anyone.”

Sir Tom Finney

Sir Tom Finney

He added: “If Tom was injured, they wouldn’t tell you the team at all,” he said. “If he was injured, and that was rare, there would be 20,000 at the game instead of 42,000.”

Gary Lineker tweeted that night: “Sir Tom Finney has left us. One of the greatest players this country has ever seen, and a true gentleman.”

Preston North End fans also did themselves and the club proud with their love for the great man.

They bowed their heads and fell silent ahead of the Orient match the next day and the faithful have chanted his name at every game since.

Opposition clubs allowed a giant Sir Tom flag to be brought into their grounds, and some of them paid their own tributes in matchday programmes, recounting their memories of a day he dazzled on their pitch.

The ‘Splash’ statue outside Deepdale was virtually unrecognisable, having been covered with flowers, shirts and scarves, and Preston effectively staged its own version of a state funeral on February 27.

The guest list for St John’s Minster was a Who’s Who of football.

It was invitation-only in the church but outside were many thousands of people who turned up to pay their respects. The route which the funeral cortege took was lined from Deepdale through to the city centre.

People took time off work, schoolchildren got an hour out of the classroom to have a history lesson in real time.

Outside North End’s ground, the pavements were lined five or six deep, that number thickening the closer you got to town.

After the funeral, the shirts left on The Splash were cleaned and donated to Kid Aid, for disadvantaged children across the world. It was Sir Tom’s last gift.