Reader’s letters - Wednesday 19 February 2014

Honorary Alderman Pat Woods says his lasting memory of Sir Tom is the unveiling of the Splash Statue in Deepdale

Honorary Alderman Pat Woods says his lasting memory of Sir Tom is the unveiling of the Splash Statue in Deepdale

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Birthday call from Sir Tom

Ten years ago, my son and grandsons bought me Sir Tom’s autobiography as a 65th birthday present, and they decided to take it to Sir Tom’s bungalow for him to sign.

Unfortunately he was not at home, and the lady next door said she would ask him to sign it on his return.

My grandson put a note in the book asking if it would be possible for Sir Tom to ring me on my birthday as a surprise.

On my birthday I could not understand why the family kept asking if I had any phone calls.

That evening the phone rang and my wife answered.

She gave me the phone, saying it was someone “special” for me.

It was Sir Tom to wish me happy birthday, I was gobsmacked.

We chatted for more than 10 minutes, about Sir Tom’s PNE playing days, and sadly about his beloved wife Elsie’s illness, which he was having great difficulty coming to terms with, but was still making time to ring me, a total stranger.

I was lucky enough to have seen him play for most of his career and, to this day, have seen no one better.

He was an absolute genius, but probably more importantly, he was a wonderful man as well.

Thank you and RIP Sir Tom.

Frank Schofield via email

Legend never forgot a face

Many men do marvellous things, but few indeed are those who are head and shoulders above the others, and remain so, in all their doings, for a lifetime.

My own tiny little moment was in the very early 1950s, when Tom lived in Victoria Road and I lived in the next road, Lower Bank Road.

I was about 15, a young brash lad, mesmerised by Tom Finney’s wonder, and cheekily walked around to his home 
to ask for his autograph.

That just is not done, and Tom did not answer the door, until he realised 20 minutes later that the lad at his door was still there.

He came out, with baby Brian on his shoulders, and signed my picture with a smile and without a word of reproach.

Tom’s ability to never forget a face was (like the man himself) legendary.

Five years later, as a sunburned National Service soldier on my way home from Malaya for demob, we touched down to refuel at Rome airport.

The England team were playing there, and Tom passed me in the airport among the other demob-happy soldiers, glanced across, and said “Hello lad!”

That made my day.

Brian Latham, Fulwood

He taught my son for free

In the 1960s, when my son was aged 10 or 11 years of age, he and five or six mates would spend Saturday mornings playing football in a field just past our house.

We lived in the country 
then, eight miles outside of Preston.

On one of those mornings, walking to the small local shop, I noticed a car parked at the gate to the field where the boys were playing, and was amazed to see Tom Finney talking to them 
and then playing football with them.

He stayed for well over an hour.

I discovered later that one of the boys had written a letter asking him if he could come and give them some tuition and he did.

It was as simple as that.

No money involved. No publicity.

No one saw him except me,my son and his friends.

He really was a wonderful man.

Helen Carey via email

Lifelong fan of iconic hero

I have been a lifelong fan of the Preston North End/ England legend Sir Tom Finney since I was seven years old, as a trainspotter and footballers’ autograph hunter in my home town, Crewe.

I first became aware of the skills of my iconic hero, Sir Tom, when North End tried to overcome Arsenal for the 1st Division Title in 1952, only to finish second on goal average, and in the 1954 FA Cup Final, I cried buckets when he didn’t win a Cup Winners’ Medal because Tommy Docherty gave away a penalty that made West Brom equalise 2-2. Then they went on to beat North End 3-2.

With respects and great sadness.

Kevin Massey via email

Privilege of watching Tom

Like many other Prestonians, I was very saddened by the news of the death of Sir Tom Finney.

Just recently, my brother and I were reminiscing.

We recalled the great times at Deepdale, watching North End during the Tom Finney era, and as 13 and 14 years olds watching Sir Tom play his first league game when he was 24 years old, as league football resumed in 1946 after the war, and through to the emotional day in 1960 when he played his last game for North End.

The intervening years gave us, and thousands of others, the privilege of watching a footballer, who was arguably England’s greatest.

Mr R Yates

Fulwood

Splash statue lasting memory

Preston truly has lost one of its finest gentlemen and sons.

I came to know Sir Tom throughout my mayoral year in 2004/5.

Sir Tom was involved in many charities.

He gave his time freely and treated each individual with great respect.

He was often seen shopping with Lady Elsie, who sadly preceded him.

My lasting memory of Sir Tom Finney will always be the unveiling of the Splash Statue where I had the honour of officiating.

It stands as a fitting tribute to him.

Honorary Alderman Pat Woods via email