Preston will say a poignant farewell to its favourite son this afternoon with five verses of the FA Cup Final hymn, Abide With Me.
The hymn, sung before every cup final since 1927, will ring out from the city’s Minster as the great and good of the game pay their final respects to a true legend.
Abide With Me is one of three hymns chosen by Sir Tom Finney’s family to remember the man who put Preston on the map and won the respect of millions as one of world soccer’s all-time greats. Thousands will line the streets to say goodbye as his funeral cortege makes its way towards the city centre from the club he selflessly served for more than 60 years as its finest player and its most respected ambassador.
The procession is due at the Minster at 1pm where Sir Tom’s coffin will be carried into church by the current Preston North End manager Simon Grayson, two of his team and three iconic former players.
Elgar’s Nimrod, from the Enigma Variations, will greet the arrival with an introduction and opening prayer from the Vicar of Preston, Father Timothy Lipscomb.
The first hymn will be Jerusalem, followed by a reading from the Book of Matthew and then The Beatitudes read by Sir Tom’s nephew Jim Hoyle.
Former England international Jimmy Armfield will then make the address, followed by a second hymn Make Me A Channel.
Tommy Docherty, who played at Preston at the same time as Sir Tom, will deliver the eulogy. Then a solo of Amazing Grace will be sung by Louisa Stirland, the BBC Young Chorister of the Year.
Rev Chris Nelson, the PNE chaplain, will make the intercessions, before Broughton Parish Church Choir sing The Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter.
Fr Timothy will then read a poem from Hugh Davies of Accrington and follow that with Odes and Reflection called Embracing Finney - A Football Legend by Paul Agnew and Tom Finney’s Scrapbook.
After Abide With Me, the Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Geoffrey Pearson, will deliver the blessing. A trumpet fanfare will sound out before the cortege departs the Minster to the Pomp and Circumstance March No 4 by Edward Elgar, played by organist and director of music David Scott-Thomas.
A retiring collection will be made with donations being divided between three of Sir Tom’s favourite charities: The Alzheimer’s Society, SPACE and the Baby Beat Appeal.
The Finney family will then leave for a private interment before a reception back at Deepdale.