In the latest in our series of players from before your time, Malcolm Johnson looks at Lewis Thom, another winger who would have been a SWXI contender had those voting been much older.
Date of birth: 10.4.44, born: Stornoway in the Hebrides
Height: 5ft 7in Position: Left winger
City apps: League: 45(2), goals: 4, FA & League Cups: 9, goals: 2, Total: 54 (2), goals: 6
Scotsman Lew Thom began his professional career with Aberdeen as a teenager and made a total of 46 top flight Scottish League appearances for the Dons and for Dundee scoring seven goals. He came south of the border in September 1965 to sign for Shrewsbury Town, playing in 49 Third Division games with five goals scored.
He became one of several new players brought in by manager Ron Gray as part of his rebuilding of the dismal Imps sides of the mid-1960s, joining City in May 1967. Although signed after the transfer deadline he was eligible to play in the final game of the season at Stockport as the hosts had already secured the championship and City were confirmed in 24th place. In a remarkable turn-round City won the game 5-4 with Thom scoring on his debut.
The following season the winger was part of City’s record run to the Fourth Round of the Football League Cup and was a regular in the side apart from a brief spell when a 4-3-3 formation was adopted.
In the summer of 1968 the signing of Dave Smith to play on the left wing meant Thom’s opportunities were limited to only a dozen appearances including a few games in midfield with Smith outside him. He was released at the end of the 1968/69 season and joined Bradford (Park Avenue) for what was to be their last season in the Football League scoring one goal in 31 appearances. After a brief spell with Altrincham he then returned to Scotland playing for several clubs in the Highland League.
One of the best crossers of a ball I’ve seen for City – all it needed was for someone to be at the far post and you could guarantee Lew Thom would land the ball on his head to be nodded into the net. The difficulty was in getting him into a position to do that, as although quick enough he had limited ability in beating a man or crossing the ball from a tight situation – but if he could be played into the right position it was a goal every time.
Two that stick in the mind are the crosses he supplied for two of the goals Norman Corner scored in his hat-trick in the 5-1 win against Bradford at Park Avenue in April 1968. Given Thom’s record of supplying crosses for others it was ironic that one of the few goals he scored for City came when he was on the end of a cross himself to head the equaliser against Derby County leading to the replay in front of Sincil Bank’s record crowd, thus earning himself a small place in City’s history.
Thanks to Malcolm who has officially joined the team as a historian. Watch out in the upcoming bumper ‘A City United’ for his piece on Norman Corner.