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on 6 July 2006
Tom Finney's virtues make a stark comparison: honesty, decency, skill, respect for the rules (he was never booked, still less sent off). When he is offered a big pay-day by going to Italy he is flattered, wonders what to do, but declines.

His autobiography is a highly readable account of his life to date. It's very accessible and written in fairly short chapters which would make it ideal reading for the tube or train. When I started this book Finney was just one of a long list of names from the 1940s and 1950s, men that had no individual character for me: Lawton, Lofthouse, Matthews, Mannion, Carter, Finney, Mortensen. Not many people under the age of 65 will even have seen them play. I certainly found out about Finney's playing career but an unexpected and pleasant surprise was finding out about some aspects of Tom Finney the man as well, including insights into his (famous) plumbing business, time as a magistrate and as the chairman of the local health authority (all topics on which I would love to have known more). However, if I remember one image beyond everything else in this book it will be simple and moving way he tells the story of his love for his wife as her health declines. It was the last thing I was expecting but hi distress,cresolve and courage symbolise the man for me.

Most people who consider buying this book will be interested in the football, though, and here Finney the author has at least two problems. First, and there is a "plot spoiler" coming up here, the only league- or cup-winning team Finney played in was the Preston side that won Division Two in 1951, which doesn't sound very promising material. Second, Finney often seems to have been the star of the team, winning two Footballer of the Year awards, but how to get this over in his book when he places such a premium on modesty? The first problem is a little easier to overcome: even if Preston weren't winning there are people around like Bill Shankly, Tommy Docherty and the fearsome Willie Cunningham (coincidently all Scots!) He also played in three world cups (including That Game in Belo Horizonte), a losing cup final side and runners-up in Division One. The second problem is harder to tackle and Finney is "embarrassed" at many points in the book when citing rave reviews or tributes from colleagues; it is one of the few points where the writing style grates.

The only other time this happens is on the subject of controversy. Finney makes his views very clear: what went on in the dressing room stays there, even fifty years on. He was hardly a man who courted controversy anyway: in one match with local rivals Blackpool two players are fighting a running battle. The Preston man goes over-the-top and the Blackpool captain runs up to Finney, the Preston captain, shouting it is " a bloody disgrace" and demanding to know what he is going to do. "Well," says Finney, "I shall certainly have a word with him about it." I loved this because it gives such an insight into Finney's nature. My problem comes when Finney (or maybe his ghost-writer?) tries to inject some "artificial" controversy such as the chapter called "My Battle of Britton", Cliff Britton that is, a Preston manager Finney did not see eye-to-eye with. Britton tells the team not to drink, so Finney as captain orders a beer. And that's it, end of anecdote! At the time it was probably a big deal but by today's standards it is a little tame.

It's a shame because those pages of the book could have been put to much better use. Having never seen Finney play I would love to have known more about some of the ploys he used to take on defenders, the tactics Preston and England used, and maybe an attempt at the biggest question of all, why an England team with so many great players made so little impact on the world stage.

But I am carping about a chapter or two in an otherwise readable, honest account of a man of honour, decency, talent and understated pride. He may belong to an age that is nearly gone but I have nothing butt admiration for the qualities of Tom Finney and his colleagues. If you feel the same way, this book is for you and Tom Finney's fame might only just be beginning as he finds a new generation of admirers.
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I knew Tom Finney was a great footballer but I can't recall ever seeing any film clips of him playing, unlike the other great from the same era, Stanley Matthews, who can regularly be seen on TV when they show him in action in the famous 'Matthews Final'. Likewise I knew very little of Tom Finney the man, except from that well known piece of trivia - as well as being a footballer he was also a plumber. So, for a player widely regarded as one of the best three English born players ever surprisingly little is known about him and to most people like me, under the age of 50, he nothing more than a name.
So I bought this book hoping that it would fill these gaps in my football knowledge but ended up disappointed as I felt that there were too many areas that Sir Tom seemed reticent to write too much about. The probable reason for this is that Tom Finney is obviously a quiet, honourable man and it is against his nature to 'big up' is many achievements as a player as it is also against his nature to be critical of those who played a part in his career. Whilst this is very admirable it unfortunately makes the book a little dull.
There is enough material in Tom Finneys life to make an excellent read but I suspect that it will be best written by a good biographer rather than the man himself.
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on 5 February 2015
I was lucky enough to watch Tom finney in his prime. Preston North End came to St.James park in the late forties and he gave newcastle 's defence the complete run around - with poor Ben Craig, the opposing full back, had no answer to Finney's skill. His story is told with unusual modesty - what a contrast to George Bush's autobiography. It is interesting to wonder how much Finney would be worth today. Perhaps the structure, could be better, probably due to the ghost writer in conversation with Finney. Never -the- less it's an enjoyable read. In conclusion, Bob Shankly devotes two pages in his autobiography, to his appreciation of FInney -that says it all.
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on 25 June 2003
Having been told the tales from my father and other family friends about this great man it was time to read his autobiography. I wasnt dissapointed. Sir Tom Finney comes across as a modest man who obviously had all the ability in the world, whilst still being down to earth. An amazing book which I completely recommend to football fans of all ages.
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on 25 August 2010
I bought this look for my dads 85th birthday, so I havent read this personally. My dad enjoyed the book, he enjoys that era of football, not like today. Although he enjoyed this book, he said he enjoyed the Stanley Matthews autobiography even more.
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on 26 March 2015
Watched Finney play for England against as Scotland when I was young, left a lasting impression. This book highlights the difference between players of his era and today's money driven players. Absolutely excellent book..
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on 28 March 2011
Just had to get this book. My uncle, Andy Beattie (also a footballer many years ago), was friendly with Tom Finney. I met Tom Finney some time ago and I felt it was a great privilege to meet him.
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on 6 January 2015
Lovely to get this book easily and at a good price. Much appreciated by the person who recieved it and has a real interest in the subject of the biography.
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on 3 February 2016
A well written bock, delivered promptly and in good condition, many thanks.
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on 21 December 2005
Although I didn't see him play, this book does let you have the feeling of what times were like for a footballer of this era.
I read lots of autobiographies and this one stands in the top 10%.
Can recommend it as a honest assessment of how it was, fasinating to hear how footballers were at the time virtually slaves to their club!
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