I had airbrushed cigarette card portraits of football stars of the 30s and 40s in mind as I traced this newspaper photograph of Lincoln City full back (1939-1947), Alex Thompson (who would later be one of my teachers at junior school). You can see the coarse dotted screen tones of the original in the background of my drawing.
Unfortunately, by enlarging the photograph, I’ve lost clues to the shape of the face that you can pick up in the small version. They get flattened into amorphous grey areas of pixels when enlarged.
Drawn from Memory
If you allow for his face filling out since his lean, fit footballing days, I don’t think that my drawn-from-memory brush and ink of him as a teacher was too far off the mark. I drew this before I came across the photograph.
Thanks to Find my Past and its links to the British Newspaper Archive, I was soon able to piece together Thompson’s career:
|1937 (aged 19)||Sheffield Wednesday|
|1939 (21)||Lincoln City|
|1948 (30)||Tranmere Rovers|
|1949 (31)||Boston United|
He was born in Sheffield, 8 December 1917, and died there in August 2002, aged 85.
“A polished, compact, two-footed player”
His career is probably best summed up in this article from The Lincolnshire Echo, 14 June 1948:
Tranmere Sign City Full Back
ALEX Thompson, Lincoln City full back, was transferred to Tranmere Rovers at what is described by Sincil Bank as “a very satisfactory figure”, on Saturday.
Thompson came to Lincoln from Sheffield Wednesday in June, 1939, and war interrupted his career as a player.
He came back to the club in the early part of 1946, and almost immediately impressed as a polished, compact, two-footed player, who was likely to do well.
Alex played regularly in the first team in season 1946-47 until a knee injury put him out of the game for some weeks, and returned after an operation.
He appeared in the first game of last season, after which Stillyards came in, playing so well that Thompson never got a chance to regain his place.
A change of club is likely to do Thompson a great deal of good, and with Tranmere he may regain the form which so impressed the Lincoln crowd when Thompson returned from war service
He made only one more professional appearance, for Tranmere, and ten years later he was teaching at St Peter’s junior school. For me, his thwarted career as a footballer explains his famously grumpy attitude but he was a suitably fascinating character and a great storyteller. I feel lucky to have had him as one of my teachers.
Barry Hugman’s Footballers, Alex Thompson