Willie , William, Thomson was a man whose footballing career, indeed most of his personal life, was a simple, open book. That is except for the last years of the latter and his death. He was born in 1868 in the town of Cardross, his parents from away, his father, also William, from Fife, his mother from Lanarkshire. And he followed his father to trade, the elder William employed at first to tend a country-house and then moving the whole family to Dumbarton and working as a jobbing-gardener. We also know that William Jnr. never married. We know too that from at least 1881 to 1921 and perhaps beyond he stayed at the family home on the High St., his father dying there in 1915, his mother in 1927 and his brother in 1939. And we know he was both a small man and a fine footballer.
Arriving in Dumbarton still as a boy Thomson learned the game locally, initially as an inside-forward. He joined Dumbarton in 1888 but did not even begin to break into the First Team until 1891 and then with only two appearances in the first season of the Scottish league, when his town's team stared the title. But the following season, when the title was won, and the next he was preferred as first choice, mainly over James Galbraith, won a first cap in 1892 and a second in 1893, which clearly attracted the attention of Aston Villa.
However, although he did go to Birmingham Willie did not settle, moving rapidly on to Manchester and Newton Heath, today's Manchester United. Yet again it did not work out. He made only three appearances before in 1894 returning North and back into the Dumbarton team but not now as a forward but as a half-back, seemingly sharing his new role with his younger namesake, Daniel. In fact for two, perhaps, three seasons that seemed to be the case even as Dumbarton dropped out of the League, relegated to the Second Division in 1896 and resigning from it in 1897.
But clearly even outwith the top and second flights Willie was doing enough in 1898 to be awarded two more caps, both at right-half. Moreover, both international games were good wins and Thomson must have done well so that, even as he approached thirty, Clyde, struggling in the First Division, came in for him. In fact he seems to have made little difference as Clyde was relegated, might have done better as they immediately won promotion, but by 1900-01 was perhaps running out of legs. Clyde would relegated once more by which time he had left to re-join his home-town club once more for a four-game last hurrah.
Retirement from football also seems to have signalled for Willie a change of profession. From 1901 onwards he is recorded as a boiler-making/engineering labourer. That is until some point after 1921, aged fifty-three plus, when he simply fades away. Family deaths are signed out by his sister and her husband. His own death is not registered in Scotland, suggesting abroad but even then nothing jumps out in the English registers or even further afield. It is a pure mystery.
1871 - "Mardenberk Lodge", Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire
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