Len Thomas

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Len Thomas
Len Thomas.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth 20 July 1908
Place of birth South Melbourne, Victoria
Date of death 17 August 1943(1943-08-17) (aged 35)
Place of death Salamaua, Territory of New Guinea
Height 179 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 80 kg (176 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1927–1938 South Melbourne 187 (54)
1939 Hawthorn 016 (15)
1940 North Melbourne 006 0(9)
Total 209 (78)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1939 Hawthorn 18 (5–12–1)
1940 North Melbourne 07 0(2–5–0)
Total 25 (7–17–1)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1940.
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Len Thomas (20 July 1908 – 17 August 1943) was an Australian rules footballer who played 187 games with South Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL), before finishing his career as captain-coach at both Hawthorn and North Melbourne. He was the son of South Melbourne player William Thomas.

Football career[edit]

Thomas made his debut for South Melbourne in 1927 and went on to become one of their better players during the 1930s. He won the club's Best and Fairest award in 1931 and 1938. A premiership player in 1933, he played through the centre in their Grand Final victory over Richmond.

In 1939 he moved to Hawthorn where he had accepted the role of captain-coach and the club finished tenth. The following season he crossed to North Melbourne with the same leadership role. Seven games into the 1940 season Thomas decided to enlist in order to take up military service. That left Jim Adamson to take charge for the rest of the season.

Military career[edit]

Although Thomas had attained the rank of Corporal, upon his evacuation from the Middle East in September 1941 he requested that he be allowed to revert to the rank of Private, so that he could serve as a commando. His request was granted. He served with the 2/3rd Independent (Commando) Company, Second A.I.F.

He became the most experienced VFL footballer to be killed in war[a] when he lost his life fighting the Japanese in New Guinea in 1943.[1] He was wounded in the leg during fighting and spent time in hospital, only to be killed when the Japanese pushed the town of Salamaua.[2]

See also[edit]


a East Fremantle’s "Hooky" Doig, a member of that famous football family, played 225 games for Old Easts – sixteen more than Thomas – between 1899 and 1912 before being killed in World War I at the age of forty.


  1. ^ "Roll of Honour". Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  2. ^ "The death of Len Thomas". australianfootball.com. Retrieved 14 February 2020.


External links[edit]