Alec Thomson joined his respected uncle, James, in the Norwood team in 1895 and developed into a regular follower over the next four seasons before the introduction of electorate football ended his career.
Alec, born on 23 June 1872, was a son of James's older brother David and was less than five years younger than his uncle. At the age of 22, Alec shared his senior football debut on 4 May with the opposing team, the Natives, soon to become West Torrens. It was Alec who had more to celebrate as Norwood cruised to victory, 7.8 to 1.3.
After Port Adelaide thumped Norwood in June 1896, 'Onlooker' in The Express and Telegraph said that, apart from Percy Stuart and Alec Thomson, "I cannot single out any of the Norwood players who were particularly brilliant throughout ... Alec Thomson is a fast improving man, and within a season or so he will doubtless eclipse his brother (sic) - that genuine player, J. Thomson. Alec is of lighter build, but he has plenty of dash, rarely fails to get his kick, is fairly fast, and displays a good judgment."
Alec was among the best players as Norwood opened the 1897 season with an historic win over Port Adelaide, 3.11 (29) to 4.2 (26). For the first time, points were counted and six points made a goal. What previously would have been a one-goal win for Port became a three-point defeat. Ironically, it was Port which had moved the adoption of the new rule.
In the equivalent match one year earlier, the Thomson pair from Gawler were prominent as Norwood kicked 4.12 to South Adelaide's 4.5 in a gruelling match which ended in semi-darkness - and as points did not count, the result was a draw.
Alec kicked 10 goals in 1896, eight in 1897 and six in 1898.
He did not experience premiership success, with Norwood finishing second in 1895 and 1896, and, after James retired, third in 1897 and 1898. There were promising signs, however. Summing up the 1898 season, The South Australian Register said: "It was like old times to see Norwood defeating South Adelaide and Port Adelaide at the start of the season, and had not a most disheartening series of misfortunes come over them they might have been at the head of affairs - certainly they could have been second. Nothing, however, could compensate for the absence through illness or other reasons at a critical time of such men as Thomson, Holbrook, Daly (2), Plunkett (2), and H.S. Cowan."
The winds of change were blowing in 1899. South Australia followed Victoria in cutting teams from 20 players to 18, making for a faster, more open style of play. Under football's new electorate system, Norwood had lost its old galaxy of talent - the Daly brothers, Jack Holbrook, Alf Grayson, Alby Green, Bill Elsdon, Peter Fitzpatrick and Alec Thomson.
It was not altogether a bad thing. No longer reliant on a few stars, Norwood picked up some talented juniors who would meld into the premiership team of 1901.
P Robins June 2017