Tom Finney

When the great Tom Finney saluted WA’s greatest

THERE is a wonderful link between the Football Hall of Fame WA and England legend Tom Finney, who was once described as the greatest footballer of all time.
Former Hall of Fame Committee member Bob Brown met up with Sir Tom (he was knighted in 1998) at the English Football Museum at Preston North End’s ground at Deepdale in 2004. The museum has since been relocated to Manchester.
“He was a real gentleman, wonderful to talk to and he was delighted when I made him a presentation of a copy of the Hall of Fame’s booklet on WA’s 100 Greatest Players,” said Bob.

“It was pure luck that he happened to be at the museum on the day I visited. I stumbled across him giving a talk to a group of people and was allowed to listen in. I approached him afterwards, made the presentation and took the photograph of him holding the booklet.
“Ernie Hannigan, who played for North End, is included in the WA’s 100 best players list and one fellow, in particular, that I met at the museum remembered Ernie and was thrilled to learn that he had been honoured by the Hall of Fame in Perth.”
Bob also secured Sir Tom’s autograph (he wrote: “Best wishes to the WA Soccer Hall of Fame – Tom Finney) which Bob has since transferred to the iconic picture of Finney taking a corner at a packed stadium with the crowd literally breathing down his neck.
He could play left or right wing, or centre forward, and made 433 league appearances for Preston, his only English club. He played 76 times for England, scoring 30 goals, which stood as a record for many years. He died in 2014 at the age of 91. But he will be forever remembered as there is a statue of him outside Deepdale.
He played his last game for Preston 60 years ago (April 30, 1960) in a First Division clash against Luton Town. He was 38 years of age and a crowd of 29,781 turned up to pay tribute to Finney – and North End won 2-0. Tom didn’t score, but he still finished the season as Preston’s top marksman with 21 goals. 

His Preston team-mate, legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who called him the greatest of all, said: “Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age – even if he had been wearing an overcoat.”
His England team-mate, Stanley Matthews, once compared Tom to Diego Maradona, Pelé, George Best and Alfredo Di Stéfano.
Twice voted Footballer of The Year in the 1950s, the debate on who was the best footballer between Blackpool’s Matthews or Finney divided the nation. Some preferred Matthews’ dribbling skills and others Finney’s all round ability.
He was not a big man and had to take some hard tackles in a time when defenders did not take prisoners. However, his speed, movement and ability, on the ground and in the air, left defenders bamboozled. A prolific goalscorer, Finney was also great at creating goals for other players: the ideal team man.
Both on and off the field he was known as a gentleman. Never booked, sent off or reportedly even ‘spoken to’ by a referee. After his career ended he dedicated his life to helping the people of his beloved city of Preston, working for local charities and hospitals.

PIC ONE: Tom Finney’s iconic corner kick (with autograph); PIC TWO: Finney with his copy of WA’s Century of Champions; PIC THREE: Finney with Bill Shankly. PIC FOUR: Finney with Stanley Matthews. PIC FIVE: Finney with George Best. 

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