I think I speak for all football fans when we heard the death of Preston North End’s favourite son Sir Tom Finney and it either brought a lump to the throat or we all shed a tear.
I have been watching the Clarets since 1962, so I never saw the great player play for PNE and England but like any other fan, we all know what he was like as a player. He was a gentleman, as I had the privilege of meeting him 20 odd years ago.
It would be the early to mid 80s and Burnley and Preston were having bad times in the old Fourth Division. We played North End in the bottom division and I was walking past the main doors at Turf Moor. It was around 30 minutes or so after the game. I had been collecting autographs and, as I passed the doors, Tom Finney came out. There were a couple of people with me and as he came out we asked him if he would sign our books and programmes etc. We all just expected an everyday signature but he insisted on a personal message to all of us who were there. We all got the same.
Best wishes Tom Finney, PNE and England. We were all dumbstruck at the thought we had met a legend like Tom and he shook our hands and walked up to the car park. It was a moment I will always remember.
He was a gentleman in every way. He even stopped to talk to us and that today in the Premier League is very rare.
I did shed a tear when I heard he had died and my memory was of that day when I met him.
Preston will never forget him and football will mourn the death of a true legend, and a man who was a down-to-earth bloke, who went about doing his job. RIP.