*BS*Watching the early pre season build up at Crabble and all the hard work going on behind the scenes it can’t be denied that the club is already showing a great deal of ambition.*BF*
It now seems that this hasn’t gone unnoticed, particularly when you consider the recent signing of midfielder Steven Thomson.
The 34 year old had received offers from other Blue Square Bet South clubs which would have been far more convenient for him personally but when his old teammate Nicky Forster told him about his plans for the Whites next season he quickly came on board.
Thomson, who appeared for St Mirren in the SPL last season, was keen to point out that moving to a new level of football hadn’t affected his passion for the game or his drive to succeed. He said: “One thing I didn’t want to do was go part time and just go to any team and play out the rest of my career. I’d rather go to a team that takes things seriously”.
Looking back at Steven’s career you can definitely see that he’s not a man that does things by halves. Even his early experiences of playing football were at a very high standard. Growing up in Glasgow he developed an incredible training regime before he had even reached his teens.
He explained, “After playing for a local boys club I was invited to go and train with a few clubs, so at the age of 10 I found myself training with Rangers on a Monday, Celtic on a Tuesday, Hearts on a Wednesday and Hibs on a Thursday”.
This bustling schedule was only cut down when Steve reached 14 and was advised to choose one club over the others in order to make more time for his studies. He ended up siding with Glasgow Rangers but opportunities were pretty slim at that time as the club had around 80 professionals on its books.
In a bold move 16 year old Steve decided to cross the border and secured a place at Crystal Palace. Steve admits that the initial move was a little strange but he was helped by two of the Palace first team members and fellow countrymen Dougie Freedman and David Hopkin.
Eventually both men ended up leaving Palace with Freedman heading off to Wolves and Hopkin moving to Leeds, only to return to the Eagles at a pivotal time in Thomson’s career.
In the meantime Steve had worked hard in the youth team and at 17 signed his first pro contract. He then set about working his way through the reserves and onto the senior substitute list for the club’s spell in the Premier League. It was at this point that his old friends, Freedman and Hopkin, returned to the club.
“They both came back when I broke into the first team so I actually got to play alongside them. I’ve kept in touch with them both, in fact Dougie still gives me advice now and he played ‘til he was 37 so I hope I can take it all in!”
Thomson made his full senior debut for Palace at the age of 19 under manager Terry Venables. This kick-started a professional career that spanned 18 years and saw him play for the likes of Palace, Peterborough, Falkirk, Brighton and St Mirren.
*BS*Facing some great players…*BF*
Looking back, Steven has a number of moments that simply stand out above the rest.
In his his penultimate season at Palace the team went on a on a stunning run in the Worthington Cup which saw them beat the then Premiership outfit Leicester City and also take a one goal advantage to Anfield for the second leg of the semi final.
He recalled, “Unfortunately we got beaten 5-1 at Anfield but just playing in that atmosphere was an unforgettable experience”.
Steven also remembers the game well because he faced one of the best opponents he has ever come up against, Gary McAllister.
“He played brilliantly in that game and carried that form on for the rest of the season. I mean he was 38 at the time and I remember thinking ‘what must he have been like at 28?’ We came up against a brilliant Liverpool side that day which went on to pick up the UEFA and FA cups alongside the Worthington that season. I like to think we kick-started them!”
*Lpic1*But this isn’t Steven’s only big cup run, he also enjoyed success in the Scottish Cup with Falkirk. They battled all the way to the final and were unlucky to lose to Rangers by a single goal.
Thomson also has fond memories of representing his country at under 18 level and also being considered for the full national side whilst at Crystal Palace.
In short Steven has a key asset which isn’t naturally acquired and only comes with patience and hard work – experience.
His footballing pedigree is amplified by the top managers he has worked with including Terry Venables, Steve Bruce, Trevor Francis, Steve Coppell and Dave Bassett, plus he has come up against some of the most testing opposition, players like Gary Speed, Alan Shearer and a young and practically unplayable Kieron Dyer to name but a few.
However, it’s his two and a half years spent as captain of Falkirk that really puts the icing on the cake. He said: “I’m a very vocal player on the pitch which is probably why I was asked to lead the team. I really enjoyed being a leader on the pitch but wasn’t too keen on all of the off-field functions that came with the role”.
*BS*Looking forward to a new challenge…*BF*
Steven’s level headed mindset has also been applied to the new challenge of life in the Blue Square South. “I’m under no illusion that I’m just going to walk in from the league and find it easy. I know I’m going to have to work hard and I’m expecting a very high standard”.
Steven will have to adjust to a number of changes. For instance, he’s been used to training every day for the last 18 years. However, he said he was yet to adapt to the biggest change of them all: “One thing I’ve got to get used to is calling ‘Fozzy’ the ‘Gaffer’. I’m sure it’ll stick in time!”