A Tom Finney super fan who penned and presented his poem ‘Walking With God’ to the great man has paid tribute to him.
John Cowley, 73, from Chorley, has a ‘shrine’ in his house dedicated to Sir Tom, full of memorabilia and pictures.
The former schoolteacher spent years perfecting his poem about the life of the PNE legend, dubbing him “the best player I have ever seen by far.”
In 2008, John and friends Richard Ormesher and Dave Burton, who is a former Preston North End reserve goalkeeper, presented Sir Tom a framed version of the poem.
John says Sir Tom declared he loved it and he was proud that somebody had taken the time to write about him.
He said: “I was uneasy and a bit embarrassed about imposing on him in such a way.
“I asked him if he doesn’t want to have it he shouldn’t feel like he has to keep it.
“But then he held it tight to his chest and said, ‘This is mine, I love this poem.’
“It wasn’t through big headedness but he was proud that somebody had written something about him.”
Prior to presenting the poem in person, John had sent a copy of the poem to Sir Tom.
But the reply he got was something he never expected.
He added: “I was at home and my wife Catherine picked up the phone.
“She was talking for quite a while and I thought who was that? Was it one of our children?
“Then she came off the phone and went ‘It’s Sir Tom.’
“I was taken by nerves straight away, I had met him before but never anything this official.
“I asked him straight away did he like it?
“All he said was he loved it.”
An extract from John’s poem:
Saturday, 31st of August, 1946, Preston North End V. Leeds United
Officially it began -
An immortal strode among mortal man.
And on that day I walked the Avenue -
As I would so often do - as boy, as youth, as man -
Rich with each home game’s expectation
And thousands like me roared in acclamation
As their shy hero with each game
Scored his initials in Soccer’s Hall of Fame.