James Finney (17 August 1924 – 1 April 2008) was an English football referee during the 1960s and 1970s, active on the FIFA list. He was born in St Helens in Lancashire (now Merseyside) but was based during his refereeing career in Hereford. Outside football he worked as a brewery representative.
He became a Football League linesman in 1957, stepping up to referee in 1959. He refereed the Amateur Cup final of that year. Finney then took charge of the 1962 FA Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley. Though the normal practice at the time was for the winning captain to keep the match ball, Danny Blanchflower presented Finney with the ball at the end of the game. He is reported to be one of five freemasons to have refereed the FA Cup Final.
Finney had been held in high regard within the domestic game for some time before this match. He was appointed as a linesman in the first European Nations Cup Final held in Paris in 1960, assisting Arthur Ellis. In May 1963, Finney was also the referee during the Scotland versus Austria match at Hampden Park, which he abandoned after 79 minutes. Finney later expressed concern that he thought "somebody would have been seriously hurt".
Later he was selected as one of the English referees at the 1966 World Cup, gaining some notoriety there for his handling of the Uruguay versus West Germany quarter-final in which he sent off Horacio Troche and Héctor Silva. That was the same day on which the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein sent off Argentinian player Antonio Rattin at Wembley, leading to a suggestion of partiality against the European referees.
He officiated at the 1971 League Cup final at Wembley, and had already been appointed to the European Cup final at the same venue. However, he and his wife were seriously injured on 23 April 1971 in a car accident as they were travelling to a Preston-Aston Villa match at which he was due to officiate the following day. Although the pair recovered he was unfit to take charge of the European Cup Final, his place being taken by Jack Taylor. He expressed a hope that he would be able to have a few more matches before he reached the mandatory retirement age of 47 at the end of the 1971-1972 season. However a recurrence of an arm injury shortly afterwards meant that he was forced to retire without refereeing again.
- Birthdate: zerozero.eu website. Retrieved on 2 April 2008.
- "Cup Final referee passes away": ClaretsMad.co.uk website. Retrieved on 3 April 2008.
- The Times, 3 December 1968, p11
- Jim Finney - presented with the match ball by Danny Blanchflower, and also reported to be a freemason: article from MQMagazine Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- Scotland v. Austria Archived 1 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, abandoned after 79 minutes, 1963: Alan Brown statistical website; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- Quote from Finney, Scotland v. Austria: RSSSF.com Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- Two sent off, Uruguay v. West Germany, 1966 World Cup quarter-final: PlanetWorldCup Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- Rattin of Argentina sent off, against England, on the same day, 1966 World Cup quarter-final: PlanetWorldCup.com Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- The Guardian, 29 December 1971, p29
- The Daily Mirror, 13 January 1972, p27
- Profile Archived 19 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine: Richard Whitehead's Where Are They Now? football history feature, from Bob Dunning's website; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
- Taylor, Jack (1976) World Soccer Referee, Pelham, p93-94 (details of accident)
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