The "Splash" statue outside the old National Football Museum, Preston, UK
|Full name||Sir Thomas Finney|
|Date of birth||5 April 1922|
|Place of birth||Preston, Lancashire, England|
|Playing position||Striker, Outside Right|
|1946–1960||Preston North End||433||(187)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Sir Thomas Finney, CBE (born 5 April 1922, Preston, Lancashire) is a former English footballer, famous for his loyalty to his league club, Preston North End, and for his performances in the English national side. Finney is also the current President of Kendal Town. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1961 Queen's New Year Honours and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Queen's New Year Honours and was knighted in the 1998 Queen's New Year Honours.
Finney was born at home in Preston on a street next to the Deepdale stadium to parents Alfred Finney (b. 1894) and Margaret Mitchell (b. 1896). He was frail and somewhat sickly in his youth and stood only 4 ft 9 in (1.45 m) at the age of fourteen. When he was offered the opportunity to sign for Preston North End (PNE), his father insisted that he complete his apprenticeship in the family's plumbing business before signing as a professional. This led to one of his nicknames, the 'Preston Plumber'. Finney's mother Margaret died in 1927, at the age of 32, when Tom was only four years old. He was married to Elsie Noblett from 1945 until her death from Alzheimer's disease in 2004. They had two children; a son Brian (born 1947) and a daughter Barbara (born 1950).
Second World War
Soon after he signed, however, World War II began and normal football was suspended, though Finney started to achieve some recognition during war-time tournaments. In December 1942, he made a guest appearance for Southampton in a 3–1 defeat by Arsenal at The Dell.
Called up to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1942, he fought in Montgomery's Eighth Army in Egypt and later in Italy in the final offensive to capture Argenta in April 1945 as a Stuart tank driver in 9th Lancers. Local leave in North Africa allowed him to play in army teams against local opposition and on one occasion he played against the future actor Omar Sharif.
Post-war career and England debut
Once normal competition was restored, he made his debut for the club in August 1946 and soon established himself as an agile forward. Post-war demand for plumbers ensured that he had a second income to supplement the £14 he received as a footballer and he became famous as the "Preston Plumber". Such was his influence on the team that Preston were, rather unfairly, known to some as "the Plumber and his 10 drips". Twenty eight days after his first league appearance for Preston, Finney made his England debut, going on to win 76 caps and score 30 goals.
He played against Italy in 1948, he is the only player for either side that played that game who is still alive.
Tom Finney was Footballer of the Year in 1953–54, the year of his only appearance in the FA Cup Final (losing 2–3 to West Bromwich Albion), and again in 1956–57, becoming the first player to win this award more than once. Sir Tom has recently revealed in his autobiography confessed that he wasn't fully match fit for the FA Cup final of 1954, and therefore didn't give his best performance.
He formed an attacking partnership with Tommy Thompson in the 1950s. In the 1956-57 they scored 56 goals altogether; next season their combined tally was 60 goals.
In June 1958, he scored his 29th international goal, against the Soviet Union to become joint England all-time top-scorer, sharing the record with Vivian Woodward and Nat Lofthouse. In October the same year, he netted his 30th goal, against Northern Ireland, to become the sole holder of the record. Two weeks later, Lofthouse equalled his tally. Both were surpassed by Bobby Charlton in October 1963.
Dave Whelan described Finney as the perfect gentleman. Whelan explained that in his first game back for Blackburn Rovers after recovering from a broken leg, he had to mark Finney in a 1962 pre-season friendly against Preston. Finney said, "You've had some bad luck son, and I'm not going to take you on, I want you to get through today's game and get back into the first team."
He retired from Preston North End in 1960, only when forced out with a persistent groin injury. He had played his entire career for his local club, appearing 433 times and scoring 187 goals. The balance of Preston's team hardly matched Finney's brilliance, the young Bill Shankly notwithstanding, and he never won the championship (in 1953 and 1958 Preston North End came close to completing the feat, but each time they had to settle for runners-up) or any other trophy. His loyalty is remarkable, though even he considered a 1952 offer from Italian club Palermo that included a £10,000 personal signing-on fee and high pay and perquisites, but Preston asked for the then record fee of £50,000. He did, however, come out of retirement in 1963 to play for Northern Irish outfit Distillery against Benfica in the European Cup.
On 31 July 2004, Sir Tom unveiled the water feature sculpture "The Splash", by sculptor Peter Hodgkinson, which stands outside The National Football Museum. The sculpture was inspired by the 1956 Sports Photograph of the Year which features Tom Finney beating two defenders at a waterlogged Stamford Bridge.
Now aged 91, Finney is one of England's oldest living former international footballers. As of April 2013, he is also one of only three surviving players from England's 1950 World Cup squad. The others are Bert Williams and Roy Bentley.
As of 2007, Sir Tom maintains his links with Preston North End as the club's president. 2006 marked 60 years since his first league debut for PNE. To mark this occasion the National Football Museum, an organisation which he has championed and has close links with, invited football fans to sign a specially commissioned flag which was presented to Sir Tom at the beginning of the 2006–07 season to mark his 60 years with PNE.
Quotes about Finney
- "Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age ... even if he had been wearing an overcoat." (Bill Shankly)
- Shankly was also once asked about how a top star of the day compared to Finney: "Aye, he's as good as Tommy – but then Tommy's nearly 60 now."
- "Tom Finney should claim income tax relief ... for his 10 dependents." (Satirical observation on the weakness of the Preston team in his absence).
- "If all the brains in the game sat in committee to design the perfect player, they would come up with a reincarnation of Tom Finney." (Anonymous newspaper feature)
- "To dictate the pace and course of a game, a player has to be blessed with awesome qualities. Those who have accomplished it on a regular basis can be counted on the fingers of one hand – Pelé, Maradona, Best, Di Stefano, and Tom Finney." (Stanley Matthews)
- "If I were to take, and I've been asked that many times, if I were to take the choice between [Finney and Stanley Matthews], it would be Tom Finney for me" (George Young, former Scotland captain).
- "Lionel Messi is an immature Tom Finney. He reminds me of him with his attitude, an approach he plays. You never see him concerned in any tasteless things, we never hear him criticising anyone, and that was Finney. To me Messi is Finney reborn." (Tommy Docherty)
|1946–47||Preston North End||First Division||32||7||3||2||35||9|
- FWA Footballer of the Year
- 1954, 1957
- Finney, T. (2004) Tom Finney My Autobiography ISBN 0-7553-1106-X
- Finney, T. (1982) Tom Finney's Preston North End Scrapbook ISBN 0-285-62554-3
- Finney, T. (1958) Finney on Football ISBN B0000CK63X
- Finney, T. (1955) Instructions to Young Footballers ISBN B0000CJABP
- Finney, T. (1953) Football Round the world ISBN B0000CIMPY
- Agnew, P. (2002) Tom Finney: A Football Legend ISBN 0-9530847-9-5
- Booth, J. (ed.) (1998) Tom Finney: A Pictorial Tribute ISBN 1-901966-00-3
- Full list of Finney's international goals
- Tom Finney at the International Football Hall of Fame
- Tom Finney at the English Football Hall of Fame
- Football fans are asked to raise the standard for North End's greatest player
- Tom Finney Profile at Football England
- Interview with Sir Tom Finney at Shankly.com
- Tom Finney's appearance on This Is Your Life
- Kendal Town FC – Club Personnel. Kendaltown.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Biography for Tom Finney (I). IMDb.com
- Search general register office (GRO)marriage records 1796–2005 | Fully indexed marriage records. Findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Winter, Henry (25 March 2008). "Sir Tom Finney – a survivor of a golden era". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Search general register office (GRO)birth records 1761–2006 | Fully indexed birth records. Findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. pp. 392 & 394. ISBN 0-9514862-3-3.
- Chalk, Gary; Holley, Duncan (1987). Saints – A complete record. Breedon Books. pp. 105–106. ISBN 0-907969-22-4.
- Preston Today. Preston Today. Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Murray, Scott. (2012-04-13) The Joy of Six: great footballers who won nothing during their careers | Scott Murray | Sport | guardian.co.uk. Guardian. Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Videos. Trusupporter (2009-12-18). Retrieved on 2012-04-23.
- Hunter, Andy (9 March 2013). "Tearful Whelan craves Wembley chance to repair his broken dream". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Brian Viner (17 February 1999). "Sir Tom the pride of Preston". The Independent.
- "The Sir Tom Finney Interview". 30 June 1999. Archived from the original on 28 December 2005. Retrieved 2006-01-31.
- Dart, James; Bandini, Paolo (12 September 2007). "Who is the oldest living England international?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-02-19.
- "A tribute to Sir Tom Finney – 60 yrs since PNE debut". 31 October 2005. Retrieved 2006-01-31.[dead link]
- "Classic Football – Tom Finney". FIFA. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- When Saturday Comes (2005). When Saturday Comes – The Half Decent Football Book. Penguin Books, London. p. 143.
- "Tom Finney". www.thefa.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Matthews, Stanley; Les Scott (2000), The Way It Was, Headline, p. 491, ISBN 0-7472-6427-9
- "Tom Finney at 90". Times of News.