United In A Sad Cause
Forty nine summers ago, Steve Kindon and Dave Thomas were brothers in arms as Burnley celebrating winning the FA Youth Cup for the only time.
Now both 66 and having narrowly missed out on being team-mates at Molineux as well, they will be together once more in the coming months in the winger’s hour of need.
Thomas is losing his sight and the football community are pulling together to help ease his plight. A fund-raising dinner is being held at the club where they both made their name and a follow-up function will be held in these parts in the autumn.
“Dave and I go back a long way and are still in regular touch,” Kindon said. “We made our way in Burnley’s first team at a similar time and had the thrill of helping the club win the Youth Cup by narrowly beating Coventry over two legs.
“It is very sad what has happened to him but he is back living in the north-east and is cheerfully getting on with his life. He isn’t one for feeling sorry for himself.
“We like the reminiscing because not too many of us got through from that youth team. Tommy Docherty’s son, Mick, was among us, so were Eric Probert and Alan West who had decent careers. But most of the others didn’t make it at League level.”
Thomas, who has raised more than £17,000 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity, played one of his first games in senior football in his pal’s absence at Albion in November, 1967.
“In those days, you played the reverse of the first-team fixture in the Central League on the same afternoon and I was in the reserves that day at home to Albion,” Kindon added.
“We won 7-1 and every time the tannoy announcer came on to announce our goalscorer, he also seemed to be bringing the news of another Albion goal at The Hawthorns. Our first team were beaten 8-1!
“Of the squad we had, I was rare in coming from relatively close in Warrington because so many of our players like Dave Merrington, Arthur Bellamy, Les Latcham, Ralph Coates and the ‘Bedlington Terrier’ Brian O’Neill were from the north-east.
“We used to practise on the top pitch at the training ground on a Friday because it was identical in size to Turf Moor and good for going through the free-kick and corner routines.
“After a few minutes, though, the manager Harry Potts would say: ‘Right, lads, time for a game’. And he made a point of saying once that it was Geordies against non-Geordies.
“In other words, it was our keeper, Harry Thomson, and me against the rest! Harry, who was from Scotland, came over to me and said: ‘Kindo, I’ve got a plan…..you go in goal and I’ll take all the others on!’ We never saw the ball but it was only a bit of fun for a few minutes.
“Harry Potts was from the north-east as well and had a brilliant scout up there called Jack Hixon, who used to send down so many good players. I used to go and see him when I was after-dinner speaking in the area. He has passed away now.”
- * In the Coventry side in May, 1968 were Jeff Blockley and Dave Icke, the latter serving as a goalkeeper before becoming a TV presenter and then an evangelist. The Sky Blues won the first leg 2-1 but lost the return 2-0 on a rain-lashed night on which the crowd of 14,000 was some 800 more than for the first-team visit of Leeds to Turf Moor the following day.