Bobby Thomson (footballer, born 1943)

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Bobby Thomson
Personal information
Full name Robert Anthony Thomson[1]
Date of birth (1943-12-05)5 December 1943[1]
Place of birth Smethwick, England[1]
Date of death 19 August 2009(2009-08-19) (aged 65)
Place of death Dudley, England
Playing position Left-back
Youth career
1959–1961 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1969 Wolverhampton Wanderers 278 (2)
1967 Los Angeles Wolves (guest) 12 (3)
1969–1972 Birmingham City 63 (0)
1971 Walsall (loan) 9 (1)
1972–1976 Luton Town 110 (1)
1976 Hartford Bicentennials 24 (0)
1976–1977 Port Vale 18 (0)
1977 Connecticut Bicentennials 25 (0)
1977–1978 Worcester City 14 (1)
1978–1979 Memphis Rogues 51 (1)
1979–1980 Stafford Rangers 16 (0)
1980 Memphis Rogues 27 (0)
1981 Willenhall Town 3 (0)
Solihull Borough
Tipton Town
National team
1963–1967 England U23 15 (0)
1963–1964 England 8 (0)
Teams managed
1977 Connecticut Bicentennials
1979–1980 Stafford Rangers (player-manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Robert Anthony "Bobby" Thomson (5 December 1943 – 19 August 2009) was an English professional footballer. He made 478 appearances in the Football League and won eight caps for England.

Something of a legend at his first club – Wolverhampton Wanderers, he is considered to be one of the finest full-backs ever to have played for the team.[2] Departing Wolves in 1969, he then moved on to Birmingham City and then Luton Town. He was promoted out of the Second Division with all three clubs. His later career involved moving between numerous clubs, both at home and abroad. He spent time as player-coach at Connecticut Bicentennials and player-manager of Stafford Rangers.

Playing style[edit]

Thomson was an exceptionally fast full-back and was also extremely adept at back-pedalling.[2]

Club career[edit]

Thomson was born in Smethwick, then in Staffordshire. He joined local side Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1959 upon leaving Lyndon High School in Solihull.[3] He signed professional forms in July 1961, before making his senior debut on 27 January 1962 in an FA Cup tie against Black Country rivals West Bromwich Albion. Between his debut in 1962 to 1967 he missed just 11 first team games.[4]

Unfortunately for Thomson, he was too late for the glory years, and instead came through under the tail-end of manager Stan Cullis' sixteen-year reign. Their best finish during Thomson's time was fifth in the First Division in 1962–63. The club fell to the Second Division in 1964–65. They won promotion at the second time of asking – in 1966–67, as runners-up. In Summer 1967 he was part of the Wolves side that played in the United States, guesting as the Los Angeles Wolves, under which guise they won the United Soccer Association league championship.

In March 1969, Thomson moved on to Birmingham City for £40,000,[3] teaming up with his former boss Stan Cullis, though Cullis retired early the next year. He played 44 games of the 1969–70 campaign, in a settled back four made up of Thomson, Dave Robinson, Garry Pendrey, and Ray Martin. However he fell out of favour under new boss Freddie Goodwin, and featured just 15 times in 1970–71. In 1971–72, Birmingham managed to gain promotion to the top tier, as runners-up behind Norwich City.[5] He did not play any first team games however, and instead spent part of 1971 on loan at nearby Third Division club Walsall.

In 1972, he moved on to Luton Town, another Second Division side with ambitions of top-flight football. Thomson's teams had a knack of finishing second in the second tier, as the "Hatters" achieved this in 1973–74, as they watched Middlesbrough sprint away with the title. Luton were unfortunate to go back down in 1974–75, finishing a mere point from the safety of Tottenham Hotspur in 19th.

In 1976, his career drawing to a close and his best days behind him, Thomson went back to the States, spending a short period with Hartford Bicentennials. He returned to the Football League, and the West Midlands, with Third Division Port Vale in October 1976.[1] He made an 'impressive' debut in a 3–2 defeat to Wrexham at Vale Park on 16 October 1976 and earned himself both a regular first team spot and the captaincy.[1] He played 24 games for Roy Sproson's "ValiantS2 in 1976–77, before he returned to the re-branded Connecticut Bicentennials as the player-coach in March 1977.[1]

He stayed with the Connecticut Bicentennials for two years, before returning to England with non-league Worcester City. He later became player-manager of Stafford Rangers. Another spell in the USA with Memphis Rogues in the NASL followed, before he joined Brewood, Solihull Borough and then Tipton Town.

International career[edit]

Thomson won eight full caps with the senior team between 1963 and 1964.[6] He was selected by Alf Ramsey and made his full international debut on 20 November 1963 in an 8–3 Home International victory over Northern Ireland. His final international appearance came in December 1964.

He also played fifteen games for the England under-23 team, which was a record.[2][7]

Later life[edit]

He was married to Jan and had three children. After retiring from playing, he ran a sports shop in Sedgley in the West Midlands.[4] He was known to take part in Wolves All Stars charity games from his retirement up until his last years, as well as help coach youngsters in Oldbury.[2]

He died of prostate cancer at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley at the age of 65. He had defeated a first occurrence of the illness, only to succumb after suffering a relapse.[2]


with Wolverhampton Wanderers
with Luton Town
  • Football League Second Division runners-up: 1973–74


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 290. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Wolves legend Thomson dies, 65". Express & Star. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Matthews, Tony (2001). The Wolves Who's Who. West Midlands: Britespot. p. 205. ISBN 1-904103-01-4. 
  4. ^ a b Matthews, Tony (2008). Wolverhampton Wanderers: The Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 978-1-85983-632-3. 
  5. ^ Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9. 
  6. ^ "Bobby Thomson". Post War English & Scottish Football League A – Z Player's Database. Neil Brown. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Courtney, Barrie (27 March 2004). "England – U-23 International Results – Details". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 5 July 2011.