Local historian and author David John Hindle MA, was, for most of the life of Sir Tom Finney, a great admirer of the man they call ‘Preston’s own son’. David wanted to commemorate the life of Sir Tom by telling us of a few things about the great man and to include some amusing anecdotes and occurrences over many years.
The following passage contains some of David’s most prominent reminiscences of Sir Tom.
“During the 1950s, my dad took me to Deepdale where I enjoyed the privilege of watching Sir Tom playing outside right and all I can say is sheer unfettered magic. Many years later I wrote a book I called ‘From a Gin Palace to a King’s Palace’ about the music halls of Preston. Being Preston born and bred, I sent him a letter requesting that he might consider writing the foreword to a book all about Preston. Imagine my delight one morning when I got a telephone call. In a Preston accent the voice said. “Hello David, this is Tom Finney here, I’ll do that what you want. Can you come round one morning and tell me what you want.” I felt so happy that he had taken the trouble to accede to my request so seriously. After a few days I duly made a telephone appointment to visit him at home. So, one morning in July, 2,007, I duly knocked on the door of his bungalow and he invited me to sit down in the kitchen.
“It all seemed quite surreal. Across the table sat the great man himself finishing off his breakfast, and there I was. I felt so humbled. Sir Tom invited me to have a cup of tea with him. I could not believe it the great man making me a cup of tea whilst still in his pyjamas and what a measure of the man. I went on to tell him that my dad used to take me to Deepdale and it had been a great experience seeing him play in several great matches. Also as a young lad, I queued up for his autograph at Lowthorpe Road outside the ground, along with lots of other kids and he graciously took the time and trouble to have a friendly chat and sign his autograph. Sir Tom then stated, “Yes, it’s thanks to people like you that we got where we did.” I then had a very pleasant surprise when he then handed me the famous photograph of ‘The Splash,’ at Stamford Bridge saying, “Would you like a photograph. Do you want me to sign it”? Naturally I replied, “Yes please,” and accordingly he duly endorsed it: ‘Best wishes to David, Tom Finney.’ It now adorns my lounge, as a most treasured possession.
“Sir Tom wrote an amusing foreword to the book in which he recalled going to the pantomimes and seeing music hall stars, Frank Randle and Sandy Powell at Preston’s Royal Hippodrome and Palace theatres. Sir Tom was taken to PNE by his dad when he was five and learned the game of football with his friends on some spare land near his home at Holme Slack. Whilst playing for North End he told me an amusing anecdote. Tommy Docherty had complained to the management that he was receiving less money than Sir Tom. “But Tom Finney is a better player than you are,” they told him. “Not in the closed season,” retorted the Doc!
“A few months later, in the company of my dear late wife Dorothy, I again had the privilege of enjoying his convivial company for a full evening when he joined us for a book signing at Preston’s Waterstones bookshop. Sir Tom wrote the foreword to my book, but needless to say, it was his autograph that was being sought in the book and not mine.
“I was saddened by his death and duly paid my respects along with thousands of other Prestonians outside The Minster at his funeral. He was the pride of Preston and the greatest of footballers and yet a down to earth very humble gentleman and undoubtedly Preston’s most famous son, the likes of which we will never see again.”
David John Hindle MA
Sir Tom Finney, born April 5 1922 – died February 14 2014.
Do you have any great memories of Sir Tom? Let us know in the comments below.