February 14: The day Preston North End lost legend Sir Tom Finney and the city lost its most famous son
Six years ago today football lost a legend and a gentleman when Sir Tom Finney passed away at the age of 91.
Sir Tom served Preston North End and England with distinction, his service to his beloved Lilywhites continuing into later life.
He died on February 14, 2014, the world of football mourning him and recognising what a huge influence he had on the sport.
On the day of his funeral later that month, the city of Preston came to a standstill.
Thousands of people lined the route for Sir Tom’s final journey, the funeral cortege passing Deepdale where fans – young and old – had gathered.
A civic funeral was held at the Minster, the pall bearers being Alan Kelly, Graham Alexander, Joe Garner, Ian Bryson, Simon Grayson and John Welsh.
Six years on, Preston remembers Sir Tom as fondly as it did then.
The winger’s legacy lives on throughout the city, with landmarks and references in honour of him.
Deepdale of course has the Sir Tom Finney Stand, opened in early 1996.
Outside the ground between the stand and Sir Tom Finney Way proudly stands the ‘Splash’ statue.
It is a popular meeting point for fans – visitors to Deepdale like to stand and be photographed next to it.
Sir Tom was a one-club man in his career, something now rarely seen in the modern game.
Born a stone’s throw away from Deepdale, he joined PNE as an amateur part-timer as a teenager and served an apprenticeship as a plumber at the same time.
After serving his country in the Second World War, Sir Tom made his North End debut in 1946 at the age of 24.
He went on to play 472 games for Preston – 433 in the league and 39 in the FA Cup.
Sir Tom scored 187 league goals and a further 23 in FA Cup action, playing on either wing and up front.
Twice in his career PNE finished as runners-up in the league, while they lost in the 1954 FA Cup final.
He won 76 England caps, scoring 30 goals, playing in three World Cups.
After hanging up his boots in 1960, Sir Tom accepted the role of club president.
Until ill health in later life, Sir Tom watched all PNE’s home games. During David Moyes’ time as manager, Sir Tom would watch training on a Friday and sit down afterwards with Moyes.