The 1995/96 season had begun with an unbeaten nine match run, with five goals coming from STEVE FINNEY.
Steve was signed in the June from boss Steve McMahon’s old club Manchester City, where he was a regular scorer in the Central League and had toured Japan and South Africa with the first team. Steve spent his early days at Preston, joining the Deepdale club at the age of thirteen, but his progress had been hampered by a knee operation on his 17th birthday. He left soon after John Beck took over as manager during 1992/93. “We were told to get the ball forward early,” he remembers. “I played a few short passes so we soon fell out !”
When he arrived at the County Ground, Steve had just a handful of League appearances to his name and did not expect to be first choice. However, a pre-season injury to Peter Thorne gave him his opportunity. After that opening flurry, which helped Town to seven wins in nine, the first defeat came at Wrexham - the first game Steve did not start ! But another four victories quickly followed and Steve continued to find the net with six more before Christmas. His quest to finish 1995/96 as top scorer ended in March, however, when he suffered a fractured fibula at Burnley. After his recuperation, Steve found goals harder to come by in the First Division and when Town signed Chris Hay in the 1997 close season, there was additional competition for places up front.
In mid-October Steve went to a post-Beck Cambridge United on a month’s loan. There was renewed optimism when he returned with the chance to fill a vacancy created by the sale of Wayne Allison. Steve duly scored in three successive games in December. But after netting 21 goals in under 60 full appearances, he signed for Carlisle in July 1998, in the Michael Knighton era.
Steve hit six goals in 22 games there before the extrovert chairman decided to sell him to Leyton Orient - without manager Nigel Pearson's knowledge - on transfer deadline day in the following March. But his stay in east London was brief. On the eve of a play-off fixture Steve chose to put family first and return to Cumbria for the birth of his daughter Molly and his Orient career was over.
At the start of the 1999/2000 season, Steve signed for Gretna - then in the Northern Premier League - but played just one game there before moving on to Barrow and quickly on to Chester. His final port of call was at Altrincham before he decided that ‘enough was enough’.
“My knees just gave up,” said Steve. “I put it down to playing on the artificial pitch at Preston for years.” He then spent six months doing, in his words, “absolutely nothing” before he became a driving instructor and set up his own driving school, based in Penrith. Married to Debbie, Steve also has a son Harry.