Sir Tom Finney’s funeral service will reflect the essence of the man himself, according to the clergyman who will conduct it.
Members of the Finney family have asked that the proceedings inside Preston Minster next Thursday should be dignified and understated.
“We have to do justice to the man, but it won’t be unduly flowery and complicated - because he wasn’t,” revealed Fr Timothy Lipscomb, the Vicar of Preston.
“It’s important that everything we do, we do well. It is also important that we don’t drag things out too much.”
The service, which begins at 1pm following a cortege through crowded streets from Deepdale, will be all-ticket. Even with many mourners standing, the Minster will only hold up to 700 people and the guest list is likely to reach that figure.
“It’s a pity we can’t get 20,000 in because I’m sure we would still fill the church,” said Fr Timothy. “Even the biggest cathedral in the country wouldn’t be big enough for Sir Tom.
“I’m sure that with all his extended family and friends, football people, civic dignitaries and the like, it will be standing room only. But it is also important that the city of Preston isn’t forgotten in all this and we are looking at the possibility of broadcasting the service to the crowds outside. That has not been approved yet, but it is a possibility.
“Of course we have to be sensitive to what Sir Tom’s family want - they are the most important people in all this.
“We have to remember they are grieving for the loss of a father and grandfather and their feelings are our main concern. They are having to deal with the enormity of all this.”
The funeral cortege is expected to leave Deepdale at around 12.15, pausing outside the stadium before moving on down Sir Tom Finney Way, Deepdale Road, up Ringway and then into Tithebarn Street, round into Lord Street, Lancaster Road and then into Church Street.
Police will close off Church Street to traffic to allow thousands of spectators to pay their respects outside the Minster. They will also operate a rolling road block to make sure the cortege can make its way from the football ground into the city centre unhindered.
CORRECTION: The original story wrongly stated that the funeral cortege would leave Deepdale at 1.30, this has been amended above.