PLAYERS - THOMSON, James  
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James Jack THOMSON

STATISTICS

Guernsey Number:
Career: 1891 to 1896
NFC Games:
NFC Goals:
Debut:
Finale:

Premierships: 1891, 1894
South Australian Games: 1
 

Jimmy Thomson was the first Gawler player to appear in intercolonial football and was a member of two Norwood premiership teams.
A talented allround sportsman, he showed great early promise as a follower in three seasons with Gawler when it was a member of the SA Football Association and was vice-captain in 1888. With Gawler's withdrawal from the competition, he moved to Norwood in 1891 and was named second-best player in the two-goal win over Port Adelaide to clinch the premiership.

In 1892 he shaped remarkably in all departments and kicked four goals. In 1893 he was a half-back flanker in the SA team which lost to Victoria at Adelaide Oval and finished the season at centre half-back for Norwood.

In 1894 he missed another chance to represent SA when Norwood players pulled out of the team because the SAFA would not provide a first-class carriage for their rail trip to Melbourne. Instead, Jimmy and his mates - the Daly brothers, Percy Stuart, Os Bertram, Alby Green, Alf Grayson and co - played in the SAFA team which beat Yorke Peninsula 5.1 to 4.5 at Adelaide Oval. In the premiership decider that year, Jimmy took a brilliant saving mark early and was in the best players as Norwood sealed victory over South Adelaide with a desperate late goal  from 'Bos' Daly.

'Onlooker' in The Express and Telegraph in 1894 rated Jimmy "about the best all-round man in the Norwoods ... As a follower, back man, or a forward player he is equally at home, and he always performs quietly and conscientiously".

Jimmy played at centre in 1895 and 1896. The Adelaide Observer reported his form near the end  "fell off very much" and it was surprising to see how the famous Jimmy Thomson was put in the shade by the Port representative, Ken McKenzie. Meanwhile, Jimmy's nephew Alec was on the rise as a follower in the same Norwood team.

During some lively banter in 1935 mention was made of another Gawler footballer, James 'Sorry' Tierney, West Adelaide Magarey Medallist in 1908, prompting Jimmy to say: "They didn't have a Magarey Medal in my time; if they had I might have got one." Years before, he added, "young Tierney" had expressed himself: "If I can play as well as Jimmy Thomson I won't care."

Jimmy married Isobel Bews in 1899 and joined the Eagle Foundry, a family business founded at Gawler by his remarkable father, David, who campaigned for the eight-hour day as a young Scottish immigrant and was a union member for 65 years, even as an employer. Jimmy was the last of four brothers to run the  business.  

He died at 77 on 15 November 1944, just after the return of the foundry's gilded eagle emblem which high-spirited airmen had taken to New Guinea early in World War II.  It was presented to the people of Gawler by members of 86 Squadron RAAF in memory of local flier PO Ivor Hatcher, killed in action in 1943.

When Jimmy's brother Robert King Thomson died at 81 in 1939 it was reported he too had played for Norwood,  but we do not have records to substantiate that.

P Robins June 2017


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