Sir Harry Thomson 1940-2013

14 March 2013 11:46
Harry Thomson the Blackpool goalkeeper and part of the 69/70 team that won promotion to the 1st Division sadly passed away early today after a short illness.

Henry Watson (Harry) Thomson 1940-2013

Harry (pictured on the left in the blue jersey) was an Edinburgh-born [25 August 1940] goalkeeper who was signed by Blackpool from Burnley for a fee of £5,000 (some reports quote £6,000) on 24 July 1969 when he was considered “a shrewd investment”. He had left Burnley, who had retained his League registration, and had signed for Lancashire Combination side Bacup Borough but he did not play a game for the club before Blackpool stepped in and signed him after Alan Taylor was injured and new manager Les Shannon needed an experienced goalkeeper. Shannon commented, “I needed a goalkeeper quickly when Alan underwent his operation. It left me with only one ‘keeper with limited experience and an up-and-coming 18-year-old, David Johnson, with no experience whatsoever. Thomson is a man with a wealth of first Division experience.”

Thomson had begun his football career with Shotts FC and then Bo’ness United before moving to Burnley in August 1959. He had played 117 League games, five FA Cup ties, 15 League Cup ties and four European games for Burnley and, when appearing in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in Naples, the Italian press dubbed him “God in a Green Jersey”. He had toured with a Scottish international side on a World tour in the summer of 1967 and played for a Scottish XI four times, including against Israel in Tel Aviv. He commented on his move, “I’m grateful to Blackpool for letting me get into League soccer again. The best way I can show my gratitude is on the field.” Thomson made his League debut for Blackpool against Portsmouth in front of 15,844 on 9 August 1969 when Blackpool won 2-0 with goals from Micky Burns and John Craven and he was very quickly a favourite of the fans and earned himself the nickname ‘Sir Harry Thomson’.

He played 40 League games, three FA Cup ties and three League Cup ties for the club in that 1969/70 season keeping 16 clean sheets and was instrumental in the club gaining promotion to the First Division.

In December 1970 caretaker manager Jimmy Meadows suspended him for 14 days for a breach of club discipline  and the manager said, “I can only tell you it was for a breach of club discipline. I am not saying any more about it. I know this is a vital time for us to get points but discipline has to be maintained at all times.” A glum Thomson simply said, “I have absolutely no comment to make.”

In late March 1971 the club announced that he would be given a free transfer at the end of the season and at that time he turned down the opportunity to join Barrow.

There were strong rumours that Durban City, the South African club, had made a bid for him in April 1971 but manager Bob Stokoe denied that he knew anything about such overtures. He added, “Any club seeking Thomson’s services would have to approach us to secure his release and we have had no approach.” Thomson was thinking of going to South Africa but eventually opted not to do so and he moved back to his native Scotland.

Thomson played a further 21 League games and two League Cup ties for Blackpool in the 1970/71 season when he shared the goalkeeper’s jersey with Alan Taylor.

He was eventually transferred to Barrow on 11 August 1971 and he proved to be an instant success with the club where he played 66 League and Cup games for Barrow before a breach of club discipline caused the club to terminate his contract.

Regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever to play for Barrow, there was talk of a return to the club in 1976 when Ron Yeats was in charge but nothing materialised. He later played local league football for Barrow Supporters’ Club and retired in the town and in October 2004 was looking after local football pitches on which his grandchildren played!

He was invited to Bloomfield Road for the "Promotion at Preston celebration" evening organised by BSA in 2010 alongside his colleagues from 1969/70but was unfortantly unable to attend.

Scott Thomson his son has said in his message posted on the board: "He had many great memorys of his time at Blackpool and still has many friends in the town.He was diagnosed with throat cancer several months ago.My mother and the rest of my family would like to thank everyone thats kept in touch with my dad over the years."

We would like to send our sincere sympathies to him and his family from all Pool fans at this time.

Source: It's not Orange It's Tangerine