FORMER Hunslet and Bradford Northern player Tommy Thompson has passed away.
Thompson, one of the fastest and most elusive wingers of the 1960s and a real crowd-pleaser, died on Tuesday 18 October after a long illness. A former Hunslet Junior, he made his debut for his local side on 24 November 1962 in a home victory over Liverpool City; the Parksiders, who had won the Yorkshire Cup the previous month with a 12-2 triumph over Hull KR, went on to secure the Division Two championship by the end of that campaign.
The following season he was in the team that beat holders Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue 14-7 in the Challenge Cup first round replay. A total of nearly 41,000 attended the two ties and Hunslet were promptly installed as the bookies’ favourites to lift the Cup, only to lose to underdogs Oldham in the quarter-final.
A Yorkshire county cap – Thompson crossing the whitewash against Cumberland in 1969/70 with yet another trademark touchdown – the flyer’s final game (his 222nd) for Hunslet was on 26 September 1970, in a home reverse at the hands of York, in which he scored the last of his 90 tries for the club.
Tommy Thomson missed out on the 1965 Challenge Cup Final against Wigan but was on Hunslet’s left flank in the Yorkshire Cup Final against the recently re-formed Bradford Northern in the October of that year, crossing the whitewash in a shock 17-8 defeat at Headingley.
Perhaps his finest season for the south Leeds outfit was in 1967/68, when he scored 28 tries – many of them solo efforts from long range – in 36 appearances. That was a highly notable achievement, given that the Parksiders had slipped from their earlier pre-eminence, closing 21st of 30 teams in the final table with 13 wins and 21 defeats in 34 fixtures.
Thompson transferred to Bradford in the 1970/71 season and, in the next three campaigns, played 19 games for Northern, notching six tries.