Keith "Butch" Thompson
Born: July 1929 Died: Nov 16, 2020
Came from: Culcairn Went to: Queanbeyan-Acton
First game: 2 May 1948 Last game: 2 May 1954
Appearances: 100 Goals: 4
Best & Fairest: 1950
League Rep: 5
Other clubs played for: Whitton 1946, Culcairn 1947, Queanbeyan-Acton 1954-56, Tocumwal 1957-66.
Premierships: Queanbeyan-Acton 1954, 1956.
Club Best & Fairest: Queanbeyan-Acton 1955, 1956, Tocumwal 1957, 1958, 1960. ACTFL Best & Fairest: Runner-up Mulrooney Medal 1954.
KEITH 'Butch' Thompson grew up in Whitton and played his initial First grade match for the Tigers as a 16-year old back flanker in 1946 then he joined the NSW Railways as a clerk and moved to Culcairn for a year before being appointed to the Griffith Railway Station in 1948 when he joined the Griffith Swans. He played at centre half back in Griffith Swans first ever South West League premiership in 1952 team coached by Tom Roulent, ironically defeating Whitton (this almost caused a major rift in the family--his father Bill was a Life Member of the Tigers and he had several brothers and cousins playing as well!!)
He played 100 matches for the Swans and won a Best and Fairest at Griffith in 1950, mainly at CHB and also in 1951 he played at Narrandera in a Riverina Select team that played a VFL team made up of the players to just miss selection in the Victorian team that played in the Australian Carnival. Thompson was one of the best players against some of the biggest names in VFL football at the time, such as Lou Richards.
Two of his other brothers Norm and Jack "Jazbo" Thompson were legends of Riverina football and as they played for three different clubs they would often oppose each other and their was usually a fierce contest between them. All three were good enough for the VFL but to play in Melbourne in the 1950s was not the life changing opportunity it is today.
He was then transferred to Queanbeyan with the NSW Railways in 1954, where he played starring roles in Queanbeyan-Acton's Premierships under Roy Watterston in 1954 and Lindsay White in 1956 and in the losing Grand Final team of 1955, mainly as a centre half back and in the ruck.
He won two Best and Fairest Awards (1955, 1956) for the Combine in his three years at the club. He was runner up in Mulrooney Medal for B & F in the ACTAFL by 1 vote in 1954 after missing the last 3 matches due to his mother being quite ill and then passing away. He also represented the ACTAFL a number of times.
Thompson was transferred in his job with the NSW Railways and was head clerk at the then very busy Tocumwal Railway station, then a very busy rail junction. He retells the story that he did not start work for his first week as he arrived as Tocumwal was threatened with the 1956 floods and spent his first week on the sandbags!!
Thompson had played a starring role in Queanbeyan-Acton's Premiership in the Canberra League in 1956 and legend has it that he was actually transferred mid-year but the Queanbeyan President had some contacts high up in the NSW Railways and was able to defer Thompson's transfer to the end of the season.
What might have been as Tocumwal lost a tight Grand Final to Strathmerton by 7 points. Don "Doughy" Macdermid, who played in the 1956 side, would state later that Keith Thompson cost Tocumwal a flag -- if he had transferred when he should have then he may have been the difference between winning and losing!!
Unfortunately for Butch, the Bloods then had a period where they were at the bottom of the ladder -- he started as a ruck-rover, then to centre half back then finished his career as one of Tocumwal's and the Murray League's toughest and most respected fullbacks.
His partnership with back pocket Terry Hewitt was legendary and is still one of the best defensive pairings in Tocumwal's history. Butch was short sighted and relied on "Spurry" to tell him where the ball was and tell him the score and because of this he played his full forwards very close -- he was in touching distance all the time. His long 50-60 metre drop kicks from fullback were an attacking weapon for Tocumwal.
Thompson joined the committee then was Secretary for 3 years when the club recruited Don Whitten to the club and climbed up the ladder. He played in two losing Grand Finals in 1965 and 1966 and then retired at 38 years of age due to a shoulder injury, but remained as a trainer and selector in the 1967 Premiership.
Butch captained Tocumwal for several years and was a three time Best and Fairest winner in 1957, 1958 and 1960 and was a regular representative for Murray League, being in the side that defeated St Kilda in 1960 (only the second and last time a country team beat a VFL team) and then keeping Hawthorn's then VFL leading goalkicker John Peck to 2 goals as the Hawks narrowly defeated Murray League at Tocumwal in 1963.
After 11 years and 160 Senior matches in Tocumwal, he moved back to Griffith to take a senior position for the Railways in 1968 and was Chairman of Selectors from 1968-73, which included the Griffith Swans second SWDFL premiership win. He coached Under 14s through to Under 19s for a number of years and was also President of the Swans Juniors for many years and heavily involved in the Swans Supporters Club before taking on the Senior Club President's role in 1974, a position he held for 4 seasons. He was also a selector for the South West League for many years.
He was also a Life Member of the Griffith Swans Junior Football Club and the Swans Supporters Club.
His wife Joy was a long serving Ladies Committee member and their two sons Greg and Neil played senior football for the Swans.
Eldest son Greg also played for Tocumwal and served as Secretary for a number of years and is also a Life member of the club and his grand-sons Matthew and Andrew also donned the "Bloods" red and white from 2003-05.
Butch Thompson is a Life Member of all three clubs which is testament to his ability as a footballer but also that he gave as much if not more off the field.
Keith is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Joy, and family in Greg and Maryanne, Gay and Michael Murphy and Neil and Fiona, 10 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. - Story by Dr Greg Thompson.