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Tommy Finney by Adrian Lawrenson
Tommy had an eventful, if not traumatic twelve months at Knowsley Road. Born on 11 January 1940 and related to the famous Creevey family from Pocket Nook, he signed for Saints along with three other lads from his amateur club, Blackbrook RLFC, Brian McGinn, Jimmy Measures and Derek Brown.
He made his debut against Hull FC at the Boulevard on 8th April 1961 at scrum-half, with nine other reserves and drew a win bonus when the team, led by Abe Terry, put up a tremendous show and a marker for the following week’s semi-final against the same opponents was laid down with a 9-4 victory.
However, storm clouds were brewing. The previous week in the A team, Tommy had received a high shot in the mouth and the impact of the tackle had been so forceful that it had left teeth marks on his opponent’s arm. The tackler showed the referee the marks and Tommy was duly dismissed for the apparently heinous crime of biting his opponent.
Tommy would have been waiting for the Disciplinary Committee to meet when he made his debut that day at Hull. For his alleged misdemeanour, he was later banned sine die from the game. On the face of it, the boy’s rugby career was over at the age of just 21.
The player lodged an appeal which pleaded mitigation and from personal memory, this writer remembers Tommy training on his own on the playing field at McDonald Avenue. All was not lost. It transpired that the tackler had written a letter to the rugby league to explain the mitigation and the ban was duly lifted, but not until after twelve weeks had passed.
Tommy was free to play again and was scrum-half in the first team against Liverpool City at Knotty Ash against Liverpool City on 21st April 1962 in a 14-2 win. Eleven days later, Tommy’s final outing was at Fartown, against Huddersfield, the forthcoming Wembley finalists in a 16-9 win. This game was noteworthy for the fact that the BBC had brought a film crew to focus on Huddersfield for a preview of the Challenge Cup final and just happened to have the cameras rolling when Tom van Vollenhoven scored one of the best tries of his career. This was later shown on the Sportsview programme on the following Wednesday evening.
Tommy had a fairly unique career, with three away games and three wins and never played at Knowsley Road with the seniors. His route to the top was undoubtedly blocked by the likes of one Alexander James Murphy, together with Wilf Smith and another aspiring youngster in Jeff Heaton.
As well as being a lively customer in the number 7 jersey, he was invariably a fine all-round sportsman, who also played football for St Helens Schoolboys in the left half position. He was a member of the schoolboy team that turned out against Salford Schoolboys at the Cliff, the former ground of Broughton Rangers, where Manchester United trained for many years. His team mates that day included his future Saints colleagues Brian McGinn and Derek Brown, who were also capable all round sportsmen. After Tommy left Saints, he went back to his roots and played football for the local Blackbrook club. He remains a staunch supporter of St Helens RFC to this day, however
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|8th Apr 1961||
|21st Apr 1962||
|2nd May 1962||
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|
|WINS : 3 | LOSSES : | DRAWS :|
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