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Villan on the Spot: Garry Thompson

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Villan on the Spot: Garry Thompson

In our regular feature series, supporter Colin Abbott meets up with a series of former players to discuss their time with Villa. Next up we chat to Garry Thompson.

Garry Thompson had a physique to die for, was hard as granite and constantly tormented defenders.

His 11 goals were instrumental in Villa going up in 1987-88 and no-one present at St Andrews just before Christmas will ever forget his brace of headers to take his tally to five goals in three games - and secure a festive treat against our neighbours.

Q] How did you come to sign for Villa?

A] When I was a kid, 18 or 19, Villa were interested in taking me from Coventry but it never worked out, which was a bit disappointing because I was a big Villa fan.

When I was leaving the Albion a few years later I met Graham Turner and presumed Villa would go and get a deal done but Sheffield Wednesday blew everyone else out of the water.

I went to Hillsborough for a year and in the second or third last game of the season we played Villa.

As I was walking up the tunnel Ron Wylie, the assistant manager, asked if I'd be interested in going there.

I told him I'd gladly walk back. He told me they would get it sorted.

I ended up going to Doug Ellis's house and he said it was one of the easiest deals he ever did.

Q] Who was your boyhood hero?

A] I saw my first Villa game when I was eight and my hero was Brian Little.

He was different - he carried the ball, he scored goals and he looked like a rebel.

He was a hell of a footballer.

Q] Who was the biggest influence on your career?

A] I would have to say Ron Wylie because he bullied me from being a kid at Coventry and turned me into a centre-forward.

He took me to West Brom and was instrumental in me coming to Villa.


Q] Most difficult opponent?

A] Possibly Colin Hendry.

The year we got promoted we were toe-to-toe with Blackburn for a long time and he and I had some real battles.

But possibly one of the hardest players I ever played against was Allan Evans.

During my years at Coventry and West Brom, whenever we played Villa, Allan Evans and Ken McNaught made it their mission to kick me from pillar to post!

Allan was the same in training. I love the bloke. He's a top geezer and very humble.

Q] Most memorable game?

A] Scoring two goals against Blues at St Andrews was out of this world, especially being a Villa fan. I knew how much those meant.

Earlier in the season they had beaten us at Villa Park.

That game was my first derby and Gary Shaw and I were like little kids, even though we weren't playing.

We did our training in the morning and then watched the game from an executive box and we were both devastated.

But beating them in the away game was beautiful!

Q] What was your worst injury?

A] I was out injured for a fair amount of time.

It started as a groin strain early on and developed into a career-threatening injury.

At the end of the 1986-87 season my career was basically over.

Villa had been relegated - and they couldn't find out what was wrong with me. It was a serious worry.

The club even made me an offer to retire.

But Jim Walker saved my career. He took me to see a guy called Paddy Harmer in Chesterfield. This bloke prodded me everywhere and found a hole in my stomach.

It turned out to be an inguinal hernia. He then recommended me to a specialist in Harley Street who told me he'd operate and I'd be playing again within eight weeks.

I also broke a leg in three places when I was at Coventry.


Q] What was the stand-out moment in the promotion season?

A] Graham Taylor walked in like a whirlwind and basically slaughtered everybody in the club.

He knew there were good players there, but there was just not enough drive.

He upset a few people, got rid of players and bought in what you'd call good honest players. But he turned it around.

I remember a game up at Bradford. I played a one-two with Stuart Gray, who was making his debut, and I ended up on my backside as he bent it in the goal.

I sat on the floor smiling and thinking the game had gone so well.

I thought to myself, "We're going up. He's done it, he's got a team together; we've got team spirit and ability."

And this was early on, before Christmas.

Bang - we were off and running.

Q] Why did you leave Villa?

A] Graham had got us promoted but I never really played after that.

Alan McInally was tearing it up and I wasn't happy because I have to play.

Alan told me he was off to Bayern Munich and I should have waited for another chance.

But I needed to play so in the end.

Q] Do you see any of your former team-mates?

A] I see Gary Shaw and Tony Morley at Villa and I also saw Tony Daley, Dalian Atkinson and Cyrille Regis at an event not long ago.

I am always down there with my son because he's Villa daft.

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AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 28th July 2015