Preston mourn Wearside-born legend Tommy ‘Topper’ Thompson

Tommy Thompson
Tommy Thompson
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Fencehouses-born former England striker Tommy Thompson has died at the age of 86.

Thompson was a legendary figure, notably at Preston North End, scoring 222 goals in 444 league games – an average of exactly a goal every two matches.

“Topper” Thompson, capped twice by England, made his biggest impact as an outstanding inside-forward at Deepdale in the 1950s side which featured Sir Tom Finney, grabbing 128 goals in six seasons with the Lilywhites.

In Preston’s memorable second-place finish in Division One in 1957-58, Thompson enjoyed his greatest campaign, firing 34 league goals – a top-flight club record. He managed 17 goals in a run of 11 games that term, another Preston best.

Thompson began his career with Newcastle, hitting six goals in 20 appearances, before moving south to Aston Villa with former Magpie manager George Martin in 1950. He granned 76 goals in 165 games for Villa, more than paying back his £12,500 transfer fee.

Thompson moved on to Preston in 1955, costing £27,000, and memorably made an instant impact, scoring inside the first two minutes of his debut, later signing for Stoke City and Fourth Division Barrow.

Thompson’s international career was restricted to games against Wales and Scotland, with the latter clash – at Wembley in 1957 – seeing him alongside Sir Tom and Sir Stanley Matthews in the England attack.

Recalling playing against the Scots in an interview with the Lancashire Evening Post in 2007, Thompson said: “I shall never forget the Wembley international against Scotland.

“Stan Matthews was outside right, I was inside right and Tom was centre-forward.

“What a sandwich that was and what an honour to play alongside two true legends.”

In addition to his two full caps, Thompson played and scored for the England B side.

He also turned out for the Football League and the FA in representative games.

After his career ended, Thompson worked in a family joinery business.