Tommy Thompson - the Englishman who scored in 4 Winning Irish Cup Finals for Linfield

Posted : 10th April 2020 at 10:43:11

In this period of enforced football inactivity has earlier today continued the historical 'memory lane' theme, by recalling with pride and affection the 1948 Irish Cup Final on this April 10 anniversary date, exactly 72 years ago today.

A glance at the team line up below reveals some of the biggest names in this club's proud history - Alex Russell, Davy Walsh, Alfie McMichael, Bob Bryson and the legendary Billy Simpson, among others.

But this tribute article recalls the exceptional service of another of the Linfield heroes that day

Englishman Tommy Thompson may perhaps have been the forerunner to another more recent Linfield forward with the same surname who had a real romance with the Irish Cup competition.

While the legendary Peter Thompson can boost a unique record of never having played in a losing Irish Cup tie, his predecessor Tommy Thompson also had a rather remarkable and fantastic claim to fame, in having scored in 4 winning Irish Cup finals - in 1942, 1948, 1950 and 1953.

A glance back at the team line ups in the 4 winning cup finals reveals the following

Linfield team which defeated Glentoran 3-1 in the 1942 Irish Cup Final on April 18, 1942 at Celtic Park was Redmond, Kirkwood, Feeney, McKeown, Mould, Brolly, Thompson, Wright, Peppitt, Ormston, Baker.

The goals were scored by Thompson (2) and Peppitt

Linfield team which defeated Coleraine 3-0 in the 1948 Irish Cup Final on April 10, 1948 at Celtic Park was : Russell, McCune, McMichael, Liggett, Bryson, Walsh, Thompson, Bardsley, Simpson, Russell and McKenna.

The goals were scored by Thompson. Simpson and an own goal.

Linfield team which defeated Distillery 2-1 in the 1950 Irish Cup Final on April 22, 1950 at Windsor Park was : Russell, McCune, Houston, Smyth, Hamill, Walsh, Thompson, Currie, Simpson, McDowell and Dickson.

The goals were scored by Thompson and McDowell

Linfield team which defeated Coleraine 5-0 in the 1953 Irish Cup Final on April 25, 1953 at Solitude was : Russell, Keith, Lewis, G. Nixon, Hamill, McMillen, Thompson, McDowell, Walker, Dickson and Lunn.

The goals were scored by Thompson (2), McDowell, Walker and Dickson.

So, on this anniversary date of the 1948 Irish Cup Final, turns the spotlight on the goalscoring hero Tommy Thompson whose nephew has recently been in contact with the club from his Doncaster home in South Yorkshire and who advises that the wider family circle will appreciate this tribute to their dearly beloved family member.

As always with these historical profiles, our source of information is the treasure trove of the personal handwritten archives of the former chairman - the late David Crawford.

Tommy Thompson was born in South Yorkshire on November 11, 1919 to a family whose roots were in Esh Winning, County Durham. Like many with a background in Yorkshire and the North East of England, he was a coal miner and perhaps appropriately for a boy born on the first anniversary of the signing of the Armistice after the First World War, he was a military player.

Tommy was a member of the Leicestershire regiment stationed in Carrickfergus between 1940 and 1943 and he was demobbed in 1946.

In December 1941 he married Carrickfergus girl (Elizabeth) Shirley Robb and they lived at 24 Rosebrook in the East Antrim town.

Tommy who was the son of Joseph and Helen Thompson and he won his first cup medal with Tunbridge Wells FC

He signed for Leicester City before the outbreak of war in 1939 and he scored one goal in 17 appearances for the East Midlands club who released him in 1945 after the war to join Linfield.

He was a winger who could play on both left and right flanks and during his war time service in Ulster, he guested for Belfast Celtic seconds in 1940 winning a Clements Lyttle cup medal with them in 1940.

He signed for Linfield in August 1941 and by the time he left the club 13 years later in 1954, he had made a total of 303 appearances for the club, scoring 130 goals.

As well as the 3 Irish Cup winning medals already referred to, Tommy Thompson also won the following honours with Linfield

Irish League winners medals in both 1948/49 and 1949/50.

3 Gold cup winners medals - Tommy scored in the 5-0 win v Glenavon at Solitude on November 24, 1948 and he scored twice in the 3-2 win v Portadown at the Oval on October 26, 1949. He also played in the 5-1 win in the final against Glentoran at Solitude on September 20, 1950

2 City cup winners medals - 1949/50 and 1951/52

1949/50 Ulster cup winners medal

1941/42 County Antrim Shield winners medal - 2-0 v Larne at Grosvenor park on April 25, 1942

1947 Steel and Sons cup winners medal with the Swifts v Crusaders

He also won 8 inter league caps between 1947 and 1952 and 2 regional league caps in 1946/47.

Tommy made his Linfield debut in a 3-1 league win away to Cliftonville on December 22, 1945, although his first appearance as a war time player had been on August 23, 1941, scoring twice in a 3-2 home defeat by Distillery in the Gold cup.

David Crawford's records also highlight three other notable points of significant historical interest - Tommy played in the infamous Windsor Park 1-1 draw against Belfast Celtic on December 27, 1948 - remembered for all the wrong reasons. He was left out of the team for the first time in 152 matches for the 1-0 home win against Glentoran on March 22, 1952 and he was awarded a benefit season in 1952/53, in recognition of his long and faithful service to the club.

Tommy Thompson's season by season stats are listed as below

1941/42 - 33 appearances and 17 goals

1945/46 - 2 appearances

1946/47 - 31 appearances and 15 goals and 8 Swifts apps and 6 goals

1947/48 - 23 appearances and 14 goals

1948/49 - 39 appearances and 16 goals

1949/50 - 48 appearances and 20 goals

1950/51 - 53 appearances and 25 goals

1951/52 - 30 appearances and 12 goals

1952/53 - 37 appearances and 10 goals and 2 Swifts apps and 1 goal

1953/54 - 1 Swifts appearance

Tommy's nephew David Thompson who’s been in touch with recently, writes

"Tommy had a younger brother called Joseph Henry Thompson (my dad) who moved down from a village called Esh Winning, west of Durham to Denaby, South West of Doncaster. This is where Tommy was born. Later, they moved to 53 Forth avenue, East Woodlands, Doncaster. My dad (Tommy’s brother) worked down the local Colliery, Brodsworth, where Tommy also spent time, while also in the military and playing football. In Northern Ireland Tommy met my aunt Shirley and they set-up home in woodlands, Doncaster and had a son and daughter also called Tom and Shirley. Tom had one child, a girl called Maxine and Shirley had 2 girls, Michelle and Kay. After football Tommy worked at the same coal mine as I did but when I was very young, I spent a lot of time at uncle Tom's and Auntie Shirley's, so I have very fond memories of him. I was so proud and honoured when Shirley, Tommy's daughter, insisted that I have one of his medals after my own dad died. It was a lovely gesture and keepsake memento of a man whose footballing achievements our family are all rightly proud of. "

Tommy Thompson, Linfield Triple Irish Cup winning goal scorer, passed away on October 9, 1979, aged 60 and he was laid to rest in Redhouse cemetery in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

His Carrickfergus born wife Shirley passed away in February 2005.

Tommy earned his place among the Greats who, by their outstanding achievements, helped make this club the Great institution that it is today.

Audaces Fortuna Juvat

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