Tom Finney

Tom Finney is adding his name to our book, which we hope to get out in the late autumn. The piece below is a copy of the letter I sent to him via Parry and Crispin. I was thrilled to receive a signed photograph from Tom in the post. It has pride of place on the mantel-piece. My brother-in-law, Rod, tells a story of Tommy Lawton and Tom having cod and chips after a match and Mr. Lawton not objecting to Tom having the bigger piece of cod because “You are the better player.” Oh tempora! Oh Mores!

“Dear Tom,
This is a free verse letter-poem
In which I try to express my thanks and appreciation to you,
A hero both to my own and my father’s generation,
So, a bit of history first:
I was born in ’51 and first kicked a ball in earnest
Around 1956, I suppose it was,
The black and white photograph by the shed and privet
Must be from around the time of Suez,
When my dad stretched my memory and knowledge
With tales of a fading footballing generation,
The men about to become managers
Who had helped to win the war.
You were a wee bit younger,
I’ve seen the photo of you from 1946,
Up the ladder on the roof,
Crinkled hair and stern concentration,
Doing a bit of work on some guttering, I suppose,
An unassuming young man following his dad’s advice,
“Get a trade, son. They’ll always need plumbers.”
And then there you are again, 10 years later,
Having your picture taken the same time as me,
You, the master footballing plumber,
Dancing through the rain and puddles
At sodden Stamford Bridge.
Tom, the Preston Plumber,
And winger and centre forward,
The modest one club home town man,
Uninterested in big money moves,
The 1946-1960 loyalty vintage,
433 Preston appearances and 187 Preston goals,
76 caps for England and 30 English goals,
Twice footballer of the year,
The man of whom Bill Shankley said,
“Finney would have been great in any team,
in any match and in any age
even if he had been wearing an overcoat.”
You might have to wear a coat a bit more now, Tom,
The blood gets thinner as the years go on,
Nursing your beloved wife;
But if only my dad was still around,
If only my dad knew that you are gracing our book,
He wouldn’t stop talking about it. Neither can I.
Nor can my 70 year old brother-in-law,
For as Rod says, “Once a hero, always a hero.”
Thanks, Tom.”

Stuart Butler – The Football Poets – Editor

Source: http://footballpoets.org/news/2004/07/07/tom-finney/