Sir Tom Finney: Gone, but never forgotten

Christine Weeks lays some flowers at the Sir Tom Statue watched by Karen Bradshaw

Christine Weeks lays some flowers at the Sir Tom Statue watched by Karen Bradshaw

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A bunch of flowers bearing a simple but heartfelt message: “The best of the best.”

This arrangement of lilies, for the ultimate Lilywhite, was just one of many floral tributes left in memory of Sir Tom Finney by his statue at Deepdale Stadium on Saturday.

“Gone but never forgotten,” another ready - ‘never’ underlined twice.

One year on from the death of the former Preston player and England stalwart, a host of dedicated fans turned out to pay their respects.

“Mr Preston”, “one of our own”, “a legend”, the same phrases repeated by young and old, football fans or just admiring fellow Prestonians.

Despite never having been to a football match in her life, Karen Bradshaw, 54, took the bus in from Ribbleton specially to drop off flowers.

She said: “He was a legend, a lovely person, on and off the field, so I thought I’d pay by respects.

“It makes you proud to live in a community that does this kind of thing.”

Linda Moon couldn’t agree more. She was one of a group of fans who organised a mass turn-out at the ground at 3pm on Saturday to show the strength of feeling for Sir Tom. The fan, who has held a season ticket for 29 of her 33 years, said: “Sir Tom is a Preston legend. It was heartbreaking when he died but the outpouring just showed how much respect there was for him.”

Simon Nash, 56, a PNE fan for 36 years, said: “It’s a nice gesture by all our fans, I hope it becomes an annual thing.

“Sir Tom was Mr Preston, he was a great ambassador for the city. I don’t think there’s anyone in football who is good as he was.”

Craig and Gemma Beresford, from Buckshaw Village, visited his statue after picking up their tickets for tonight’s meet with Manchester United - the couple said they’re confident Sir Tom will be watching over and willing a win.

Mr Beresford, 29, said: “He was a great servant to the club so people will never forget him.

“My dad saw him play, then the last football match my dad saw before he died was Sir Tom’s commemorative match. It connects you in some way.”