Distillery honours football great Finney

Published Monday, 17 February 2014
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Lisburn Distillery paid tribute to footballing great - and possibility its greatest ever player - Sir Tom Finney at the weekend following the 91-year-old's passing on Friday.

Distillery honours football great Finney
Finney played over 400 times for Preston and once for Distillery. (© PA)

The club said Finney was possibly the best ever player to pull on a Distillery shirt after he appeared for the Whites in their historic European Cup clash against Benfica in 1963.

At the age of 41, over three years after hanging up his boots after playing for Preston North End for his entire career, the forward came out of retirement to play for the Lisburn side.

Distillery manager, George Eastham Sr, having narrowly beaten Linfield to the league championship the year before, decided he needed a little extra fire power up front and called on the help of his friend, Finney, to help tackle Benfica and its stars including the likes of Eusebio, Jose Augusto and Antonio Simoes.

The Portugese side were the beaten finalists in the competition just four months before they took on the Lisburn part-timers.

And no doubt as the Whites lined up in front of the 20,000 strong Windsor Park side in September 1963, the appearance of Finney in a number nine shirt must have caused some head scratching.

In a thrilling encounter, the Lisburn side held the European giants to a 3-3 draw, with the home side never going behind.

Finney, however, decided not to play in the away leg, and when the Lisburn men headed off for the Lisbon return fixture they were soundly beaten 5-0.

On Saturday the club, ahead of its Championship 1 home match against Dundela, paid tribute to its former player with a minute's silence.

Lisburn Distillery club chairman Jim Greer said: "The club was indebted to him many years ago when he came over and played for us in that memorable match against Benfica.

"Although he came out of retirement to play it was a huge thing at the time.

"He was a great servant to Preston North End as we know and he was one of the best players in the world at that time.

"So for Distillery to get him to play for just one match was an achievement in itself and football is a sadder place for his loss"

Finney played 433 games for Preston and won 76 caps for England during his playing career.

Over the weekend, at football grounds across the UK, thousands paid tribute to Sir Tom, who was hailed as one of the greatest ever footballers to grace the English game.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
John in Belfast wrote (341 days ago):
They were a belfast team not a lisburn team.
s magowan in belfast wrote (342 days ago):
Was privileged to be at this game and though not a Whites supporter I cheered them on.Tom Finney who at this stage was something of a Veteran,but his skills were on a par with the big names in a star studded Benefica team.A great night of football from a great Distillery team,pity they had to leave their Grosvenor park home and move to the outskirts of Lisburn.
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