‘We did Sir Tom proud on the day’

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Council and football leaders have hailed the partnership which gave Sir Tom Finney the send-off he deserved.

A collaboration between civic and sporting bodies worked perfectly to stage a funeral fit for a national hero. And thousands of folk from near and far joined in to honour the city’s most revered son on his final journey.

Sir Tom Finney

Sir Tom Finney

“Sir Tom always did Preston proud and I think Preston really did Sir Tom proud on the day,” said lifelong North End fan Coun John Swindells, deputy leader of the authority. “It was a great partnership between us and the football club. Peter Ridsdale and his staff did a fantastic job.”

The council and the club joined forces to organise the biggest civic funeral the historic city has ever seen, with 15,000 people lining the route. It was carried out with military precision, fitting for a man who served his country with distinction of the battlefield as well as the football field. “It was on a different scale to what we have seen before. And it will probably be the biggest this city ever sees. That’s how important Sir Tom was to Preston,” added Coun Swindells.

“People came from far afield to pay their respects - I heard of a couple who had flown in from California to be here. I thought it went off without a hitch - as well as anyone could have wished. Fortunately we had the experience of the Guild in 2012 with its big crowds and that helped with the organisation of it.”

Ben Rhodes, PNE general manager said: “You only get one chance to do something like this and so you’ve got to get it right first time. I think we did that.

“A lot of hard work by a lot of people went into organising the funeral, led by Sir Tom’s family. I think everyone can be proud of the send off we gave him. It was wonderfully observed by the thousands who turned out. The words ‘proud Preston’ have never been more true.”