Reader’s letters - Thursday 20 February 2014

Former Mayor of Preston Coun Christine Abram with Sir Tom Finney

Former Mayor of Preston Coun Christine Abram with Sir Tom Finney

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He gave so much to the city

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Sir Tom Finney, a true gentleman.

When I was the Mayor of Preston I attended hundreds of events and quite often Tom was also present. How he did this at his age I do not know, he sometimes said “what are we doing today, who is making the speech, you do it if you can?”

I never tired of seeing how much Tom was loved and how children of all ages would ask for his autograph. He was a living legend. I was also with Tom when he opened the Elsie Finney Nursing home named after his beloved wife. I was very privileged to be part of the team who developed the idea of holding Sir Tom Finney Day in 2008.

This was a wonderful event when we could show Tom just how much the people of Preston loved him and to reunite him with some old friends and colleagues. I have a photo from this evening which I treasure and which is framed on my wall. Tom also supported my mayoral cricket matches and was always a great supporter of the mayoralty in Preston.

It was Tom’s desire that Preston would produce young footballers and he gave his name to the Tom Finney Soccer Development which I have supported since the onset and which remains a legacy for our youngsters. Preston lost its heart when Tom died on Valentine’s Day, a true gentleman and devoted son of Preston to whom he gave his life. God Bless Tom.

Coun Christine Abram, via-mail

When PNE hit City for six

My Deepdale days were from 1946 until the time Mick Robinson was flogged to Man City in 1979. But happily, that meant I was privileged to see a huge proportion of the Finney era. The man was a genius. I think the best exhibition of football I’ve ever seen, was the February 1958 demolition of Birmingham City who had three England internationals in their team Hall, Green and Gill Merrick. Two for Tom, hat tricks for little Sam and Topper Thompson. Earlier that season was almost as good when they put six past Man City, who had come up with another of their daft plans, this was the Marsden plan, I think. As I read in the paper today Rooney has been offered a four and a half year deal worth £300,000 a week. I wish Tom was still playing. Rooney is about good enough to be his boot boy. Thank you sir Tom. We’ll never forget.

Allan Fazackerley, Penwortham

Dad played for Tom’s England

My late father, Tim Ward, spent over 50 years associating with people in professional football but he thought Sir Tom Finney was the best player he ever saw and the finest man. Here are three stories.

My dad played for Derby County when they lost 7-4 at Preston North End in December 1947. In the dressing-room after the match the Derby manager asked his players one by one what had gone wrong.

The first four Derby players said exactly the same thing – “it was this fella Tommy Finney” – and the manager soon got the message.

A year later my father played in the same England team as Sir Tom. England had only nine fit men for most of the match against Wales but, in my Dad’s words, “Tom Finney came inside and played like three” in a 1-0 England victory.

One evening in the early 1960s Tom Finney motored from Preston to Grimsby to play for an All Star team against Grimsby Town. The game was arranged to raise funds for the family of Grimsby’s assistant trainer, who had died in his late 30s.

There no match fee but Tom Finney also turned down the expenses offered to him, even though he had to travel home through the night in wintry conditions on difficult roads, lucky to get home by breakfast.

Andre w Ward, Stroud, Gloucestershire

Careful on that ladder Tom

My mother always used to tell the story that Sir Tom Finney almost ended his career at our house when he fell off a ladder whilst doing some plumbing.

What a tremendous loss that would have been to our city of Preston and the wider community. He was a true gentleman. RIP Sir Tom.

Sue Cameron, Fulwood

Day I came up against my hero

The first time I met Sir Tom he was a 13-year-old schoolboy playing for Deepdale Modern at inside left and I was a 12-year-oldschoolboy playing for St

Matthew’s at right full back.

Believe me I never got a kick. He was a wonderful player even before he left school. RIP to a true genius and gentleman.

Cliff Nuttall, via e-mail

He could make ordinary a star

How good was Sir Tom? As a lad of 20 from Horwich, I supported Bolton Wonderers, my idol was Nat Lofthouse, on their away games I watched other Lancashire teams.

This particular Saturday Tom was playing centre forward. I watched with wonder how a slim lad could give the best display in that position, he could out jump, body swerve either way, his distribution was so accurate he could make a Lancashire combination player look like an international.

Even to this day at the age of 84 I still remember a true artist at the peak of his profession, later on I had the privilege of meeting Tom through business, an unassuming, modest, gentle gentleman.

Derek Mulhearn, Chorley

Putting proud into Preston

I watched him play at Deepdale, went there in a fishmonger’s van from Chorley, the smell did not bother me as it was worth the trips to see the great Tom Finney.

I passed him in the city - he always give a smile. He made Preston prouder a true legend.

Len Hodson, Penwortham