0 Norman Rimmington: Barnsley's ultimate football servant

 73224256 rimmo3Norman Rimmington clasps my hand between his. The hard, enveloping hands of a goalkeeper, mechanic and fitter. Hands that have pounded shoulders and thighs on the treatment table.

Hands that have tended the Oakwell pitch and scrubbed clean mountains of muddy kit. Hands of a Barnsley fixture and legend.

Hands that signed a contract for £3 a week in 1946. Take it or leave it or head back down pit.

Hands that grasped thin air as the late, great Sir Tom Finney lashed a hat-trick past him in 1947. Hands that stayed loyal through thin and through thick. But mainly through thin.

Here's Norman in the Oakwell laundry room - or 'Rimmo', as he's known to all at the club - still grafting for his beloved Barnsley at the age of 90. Looking out on the club car park, at the white Range Rovers and Mercedes, extravagances even Finney could only dream of.

"Tom Finney were the finest player I ever saw," says Norman of the Preston North End and England great, whose funeral takes place on Thursday.

"When Barnsley played Preston in the FA Cup, it were no score at half-time. Start of second half, our centre-half said to our left-back: 'Give me five minutes with him, I'll sort him out.' They beat us 6-0 and he scored three of them.

"It were his change of pace, he was so quick over 10 yards. He could play outside-left, he could play outside-right, he could play centre-forward. Tom Finney were every bit as good as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo."

Better, therefore, than Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, who recently signed a new deal worth £299,997 a week more than Norman's first contract with the Tykes.

"He's going to earn £85m in five years," says Norman in his thick Yorkshire drawl. "What do I think about it? I'll be honest, I can't get me head round it."

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