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First Team News

John Welsh Recalls Pride Of Being Pallbearer At Sir Tom Finney’s Funeral

14 February 2024

First Team News

John Welsh Recalls Pride Of Being Pallbearer At Sir Tom Finney’s Funeral

14 February 2024

They may have come several decades apart, but Sir Tom Finney had a big influence on John Welsh’s time as a player at Preston North End, and even now as a coach.

When the midfielder arrived at Deepdale in 2012, he was aware of the PNE and England legend, however now admits at that point in time he didn’t fully appreciate the stature of the man in the club’s history.

That quickly changed, though, and if he didn’t know by the time of his passing, then he certainly did in the weeks that followed.

Two days on from the great man’s death, ‘Welshy’ led the North End team out at Deepdale with ‘Finney’ covering the back of his shirt, and also headed the tributes for the one-club man’s family.


That was a privilege in itself, but then came something even greater as he was asked to be one of just six pallbearers at Sir Tom’s funeral.

John said: “I was immensely proud. You try to keep your professional and personal life separate as much as you can because football is your job and you want to do your best at that, and at the same time you want to keep your private life private.

“But in that moment it was a massive occasion for both. For me personally to be asked to do that, knowing what Sir Tom meant to the football club and the footballing world, I just felt a lot of pride and my family was proud of me.

“I managed to meet some of Tom’s family and the stories you hear from some of the older players, some of the names that went to the funeral as well, it becomes clear what he meant.

“Even though I knew about his icon status and what he meant to everyone, I think it was an eye opener.

“It was a deeply sad but unbelievable day to be involved in. I was very surprised but incredibly humbled to go and do it.”

John had the honour of meeting Sir Tom once during his time with North End, shortly after his arrival at the club.

The Liverpudlian’s interaction with Finney – he feels – encapsulated what he was all about, given that all he wanted to know was how John’s family were settling in Preston.

Now, a decade on, and working as a coach in PNE’s Academy, John tries to carry some of Sir Tom’s characteristics with him in his job.

John said: “When you go to events or you meet an older fan, all they talk about is Sir Tom Finney. Not just how good he was, but what he did off the pitch and being a plumber.

“I think everything you hear gives you a better understanding of the man rather than the player.

“He was humble and hardworking, and I think that has set the standard for the football club.

“It typifies its culture. I look at Preston North End as a united, family football club where everybody just wants to do their best, and I think he embodies that.

“He led the charge in what Preston North End is about.”

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