Nice Work If You Can Get It
No Doubting Thomas Contentment
Dave Thomas, the former England midfielder who failed to come off as a £325,000 Molineux signing, insists he’s perfectly happy in his retirement – and has the sun tan to prove it.
The Durham-born 58-year-old stood down in July following 17 years as a PE teacher, having previously lost the match-day summarising work he did on the airwaves for several seasons.
But, from his home near the Hampshire/Sussex border, he said: “I’m still enjoying life and doing a few of the things I want to do.
“I’ve just had a lovely cruise round the Canary Islands, giving five lectures on football and meeting interesting people, so things are good.
“I suppose I am okay at that sort of thing as I’ve been teaching for so long and am used to standing up and talking.
“Yes, I miss the local radio work because I regularly watched Portsmouth, Southampton and Chelsea but I still go to all Pompey’s home games and saw their win in the UEFA Cup last week.”
The Thomases have lived down south for 26 years since he pitched up at Fratton Park as the last stop in a seven-club career that also took him from Burnley to QPR, Everton, Wolves, Vancouver Whitecaps and Middlesbrough.
He also won eight caps for England in the mid-1970s but regrets to say that his time in the West Midlands from 1979 to 1981 was not a happy one, although he played four of the games in Wolves’ triumphant 1979-80 League Cup run and appeared in the away leg of the UEFA Cup tie against Eindhoven the following season.
“I frequently seemed to be at odds with the coach, Richie Barker,” he recalls. “I always played in rubbers rather than boots and had my socks pulled down because I hated wearing shin pads.
“Richie was repeatedly on at me and I was a bloody-minded sort, so we often didn’t get on. I didn’t know why people like Alf Ramsey and Don Revie had been okay with me doing that but he wasn’t – especially as someone as brilliant as Jimmy Greaves wore rubbers as well.
“I played 16 first-team matches for Wolves and probably a lot more in the reserves, so it isn’t a period of my career I look back on too fondly. Even so, there were some great lads there who I still ask about.”
So how did Thomas survive on a Burnley pitch that often cut up badly and while playing in an era when football was much more physical?
“I played on the wing, remember,” he adds. “It was the silly beggars in the middle who tended to get injured.”