Preston said farewell to its greatest son, in a proud and poignant day for everyone associated with the city and the football club on Thursday.
The day started with a gathering of some of the biggest names to ever pull on the lilywhite of Preston North End, accompanied by other dignitaries and mourners at Deepdale Stadium, before they travelled to Preston Minster in the city centre.
Once there, they were joined by the players and coaching staff of the current squad, before Sir Tom made one final journey past his beloved Deepdale, where thousands upon thousands, generation after generation of Prestonians, and members of the public from far and wide, congregated.
The various ripples of applause were spontaneous, each one louder than the one before, as a city paid tribute to its most iconic figure.
From there, the cortege snaked towards the city centre, the streets lined with people as far as the eye could see, until it rolled past the Town Hall and into Church Street, applause still echoing loud and clear.
Once stationed, and the hearse opened, the pall bearers rested Sir Tom on their shoulders, each one more humbled than the next at receiving the honour to carry the Finney family’s hero into the church.
Manager Simon Grayson, and goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly took up the rear positions, with modern day legends Ian Bryson and Graham Alexander sandwiched between the current coaching staff and players; Club captain John Welsh and Preston fan Joe Garner representing today’s team.
Once inside the beautiful Minster, Father Timothy Lipscomb got proceedings underway, with speakers bellowing his voice out on to the public gathered outside the church and back to Deepdale, where over 5,000 people had taken their seats to watch the funeral service on the big screen inside the stadium.
At various stages over the next hour, hymn’s, speeches by Blackpool and Preston legends Jimmy Armfield CBE and Tommy Docherty respectively, and a wonderful rendition of Amazing Grace sung by BBC Young Chorister of the Year Louisa Stirland, had the listening crowds in pin-dropping silence and rapturous applause in equal measures.
If Sir Tom was looking down on the day, he would have thought the whole thing was way over the top, but he deserved nothing but the best and that is what the city tried to produce.
A private family ceremony followed, as dignitaries returned to Deepdale to share tales and stories of the one of the greatest footballers to ever grace this earth.
Over the course of the coming days and weeks, Preston North End will be putting together various photo galleries, video packages, website articles and much more as we continue to remember the Preston Plumber.
As a football club, we cannot even begin to try and say thank you enough to everyone who has contributed in making Sir Tom’s funeral the occasion that it was.
We can only hope that our most iconic of figures is proud with the way the Club has dealt with the past couple of weeks.
Here at PNE.Com, we can however say thanks to everyone who has helped us keep you, the fans, abreast of the news.
The majority of the people listed next have helped us for endless hours over countless days – some only for the experience of being involved in such a special occasion.
Even late into Thursday night, the Club office is still brimming with activity, as we put together a special souvenir Sir Tom Finney tribute programme for the Walsall match on Saturday, a programme which is free with every purchase of our normally produced The One And Only.
Sam Budd, Ian Smith, Laura Morris, Dave Kendall, Oli Wheeler, Hannah Broadley, Joe Cooper, Adam Sharples, Hannah Lupton, Martin Atherton, the Lancashire Evening Post, BBC Radio Lancashire and all the other various photographers and contributors - thank you.
As much as Sir Tom was a man of the people, of this great city and of this football club, he was a family man first and foremost.
To Brian, Barbara and the Finney grandchildren. We hope we have made you half as proud of us, as we all are of the man you are blessed to call family.
To Sir Tom, enjoy your reunited life with Elsie.