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One Hit Wonder: Tommy Lawrenson

23 June 2015

It’s fair to say Tommy Lawrenson, father of Mark lived the dream of every Preston North End fan.

Born in Preston, Lawrenson had the honour of representing the Lilywhites in the 1950s, and as if that wasn’t special enough, he played in the same team as Sir Tom Finney, and watched on as his son later went on to also make a big mark on the Club.

But for Lawrenson, football was more of an opportunity of earning a living then a fantasy fulfilled, as Mark who spoke to the One And Only explains.

“Funny enough, my dad just wasn’t that interested in football which sounds mad,” told Lawro.

“He was a technical drawer and he only use to play football to make enough money to buy a shop which in the end he did. Although he loved football it just wasn’t the love of his life so to speak.

“He was offered a two-year contract at Everton. He only lived 29 miles away from Goodison Park, but he still turned it down because he said it was too far so that tells you something about his mentality.”

Lawrenson joined the Lilywhites from Leyland Motors back in April 1949, but it wasn’t until the 1954-55 season where he made his one and only appearance for the Club in a 3-1 defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

But as it became obvious that Lawrenson’s focus laid outside of football, he dropped down the leagues to play part-time for Southport a year later, despite his ability suggesting he should have played at a higher level.

During his time at the Sandgrounders, he helped them finish fifth in the Third Division North; their highest finish in 30 years.

“He was a winger and quite an attacking player,” described Mark about his dad who died in 1996.

“I never saw my dad play for Preston or Southport because that was a bit before my time, but there was a very famous local amateur team called Penwortham Rovers and he was the coach, but occasionally he’d go and play for them.

"He mainly played in the reserves for North End and in those days you use to get crowds of 17 to 18 thousand, because it was that big a club as everybody knows.

“I was about seven or eight when he played for Penwortham, but you could tell then that he was a really good player, but it was like the waves washed over he just wasn’t that bothered. It would have driven me mad because he had so much ability but he was just ‘oh well if I play next week then great, but if I don’t, I don’t’ kind of attitude. He was just one of those guys.

“I have a great photo of him from his only game for Preston which the former Tottenham programme editor sent me. He’s sandwiched in-between Sir Tom Finney and Sir Alf Ramsey.

“Because I live in Southport I often had people coming up to me saying that they use to play football with my dad, and they all said he was far too good for them. I love football and I would go and watch anybody go and play, but my dad wasn’t like that. He was a better cricketer then he was a footballer.”

Mark of course went on to have a long and distinguished career in football, representing his home-town club Preston, whilst winning 10 major honours with Liverpool.

Although claiming that football was never really Tommy's true passion in life, the 57-year-old admits that didn’t stop his father from bursting with pride when it came to Mark's achievements in the game.

“My mum and dad were very proud of what I did in my career, but of course I owe a lot to them, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

“When I was a kid my mum use to drive me everywhere, she was our taxi driver who drove me to play in all sort of games, in all sorts of different places.

“My dad would come along and watch but again he was just like ‘well if he’s any good, he’s good there’s nothing I can do about it, other than help him’.

“He had a very relaxed attitude, but nonetheless Preston was and always has been mine and my dad’s team.”

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