Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday July 7 2014
The career of Dave Thomas is the subject of the 100th Where Are They Now article, an excellent achievement from author Peverell Green.
DAVE THOMAS - Born 6th July 1917 Stepney, London.
For an Eastender Dave was born with the grand sounding name of David Watkin John Thomas.
He started his football career with local non-league team Romford where he made a name for himself as a prolific goalscorer. When Jack Tresadern took over as Argyle manager on 1st August 1938 from Bob Jack who had been the manager since the start of the 1910-11 season, he made Dave his first signing as a replacement for departing centre forward Bill Hullett who would soon be on his way to Manchester United.
Dave made his debut on 14th September 1938 in a 2-1 defeat at Southampton with Bill Hullett scoring for Argyle.
He scored his first goal on New Year`s Eve in a 4-2 defeat at West Brom and followed that up in the next league game a 4-3 win at Luton with Fred Mitcheson scoring the other three.
In mid-February Dave scored in three successive games, with Argyle winning all of them, he scored in between goals from Jim Mailey and Jimmy Hunter in a 3-1 win at Manchester City, the following Saturday he score in a 4-1 win at home to Bradford Park Avenue with Jimmy Hunter (2) and Sam Kirkwood also scoring.
In the next game a 2-1 win at Fulham he scored the first goal with Jimmy Hunter scoring the second decisive goal. He also scored in the last three games of the season, throughout his Argyle career he seemed to score a lot of his goals in groups of successive games.
On 29th April he scored in a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, four days later he got the goal in a 1-0 win a home to Norwich and on the next Saturday scored the first goal in a 2-0 win at Home Park over Southampton with Ernie Smith also on the scoresheet.
Due to the start of the Second World War the 1939-40 season was cut short in early September, Argyle and all other clubs played their last game on 2nd September in a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday with Pat Glover scoring the goal.
Local leagues were formed around the country with Argyle playing in the South West Regional League along with Torquay, Bristol City and Rovers, Cardiff, Swansea, Swindon and Newport.
The teams were made up of players who hadn't been called up for active service or were home on leave. Although Dave only played in six games he managed to score in five of them, after playing his first game in a 1-0 defeat at Cardiff he then scored in the last five games he would play for the club until 1945.
He scored the first of his SW Regional league goals when he got the second in a 3-0 win at home to Swansea on 11th November with Harry Lane and Charles Sargeant both scoring.
The following Saturday Argyle beat Swindon 2-1 thanks to goals from Jackie Smith and Dave. In the next game, a 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers Dave scored the winner after Jack Dugnolle had opened the scoring.
On 2nd November Newport were beaten 2-0 at Home Park with Charles Sargeant and Dave both on the scoresheet.
Dave's last game before going off to war was in a 5-2 defeat at Torquay with Jackie Smith also scoring. Despite Dave leaving Argyle still finished as champions.
1945-46 saw football start again, but only on a regional basis. Clubs from Division 1 and 2 (Premiership and Championship) were divided regionally with Argyle obviously playing in the Football League (South). Unfortunately with Home Park badly damaged due to the blitz and a lot of their pre-war players not returning they were only able to put together a makeshift team and struggled against teams of Arsenal's calibre, fortunately there was no relegation that season as Argyle finished bottom of the league.
Although Dave only played in sixteen games he still managed to score nine goals. His first goals came in the opening game in what must be Argyle's highest score draw, 5-5 at Southampton, he scored twice and Ron Brown got a hat trick.
After scoring in a 3-1 defeat at Derby he then scored in four successive games, he scored the second goal in a 2-2 draw at Leicester after Luke Tinkler had opened the scoring.
In the next game he scored a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat at Coventry and the following week scored again against Coventry this time in a 1-1 draw at Home Park. The next game was also at home this time to Luton with the game ending in a 1-1 draw with Dave again on the scoresheet.
In November he got the first Argyle goal in a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa with Douglas Brown also scoring. Dave's last of the season came in a heavy home defeat, 5-1 to Charlton. Dave only played another two games after that with Ron Brown being preferred as the team's centre forward.
Dave's Brother Bob, who played as an inside forward, had joined the club from Brentford at the end of the previous season.
The 1946-47 season saw them become a strike force to be reckoned with. With teams reverting to their pre-war status Argyle took their place in Division 2.
The brothers only missed one game each and between them scored 36 goals with Dave finishing the season as the club's leading goalscorer with 19.
He got his first in a 2-2 draw at home to Coventry with Syd Rawlings also scoring. A month later he scored twice in a 3-1 win at Barnsley with Stan Dixon getting the third goal.
In the next away game he scored the Argyle goal in a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham. Keeping up his run of scoring in away game he scored the first goal in 3-2 defeat at Newcastle with Luke Tinkler scoring the other goal.
The next Saturday in a 2-1 win at home to West Brom both bothers, Dave and Bob scored. Dave scored in both games over Christmas against the team that would finish the season as champions, Manchester City. On Christmas Day they were beaten 4-3 at Maine Road despite two goals from Syd Rawlings and one from Dave, on Boxing Day at Home Park City again won by one goal, this time 3-2 with Dave and Ellis Stuttard both scoring in a game watched by a crowd of 29,256.
Dave scored his next goal on New Year's Day in a 4-1 defeat at Chesterfield.
It was the start of a run that goalscoring greats such as Sammy Black, Wilf Carter and Tommy Tynan, in fact no other Argyle player, has got anywhere near when he scored in ten successive league games. Three days after his last goal he scored in a 4-1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday, Dave and Bob got the first two and Bill Strauss and Syd Rawlings the others.
He then scored in a 3-1 defeat at Fulham and followed that one up with another in a 3-1 win at home to Bury with Syd Rawlings and Len Boyd also getting on the scoresheet.
The following Saturday on 1st February Dave scored twice and Bob and Syd Rawlings one each in a 4-3 win at Luton. In the next home game a 4-1 win over Leicester, Dave, Luke Tinkler and two own goals saw Argyle to an easy win. On 1st March, he obviously liked to score on the first day of the month, he scored in a 3-2 defeat at home to Southampton with Allan Watkins scoring the other goal.
His next came in a 3-2 win at home to Barnsley with Syd Rawlings and Len Boyd also scoring.
He scored the Argyle goal in a 2-1 defeat at Burnley and finished off his ten game scoring sequence by scoring in a 4-3 defeat at home to Spurs with Syd Rawlings and an own goal not enough to save a point.
In every one of the ten games Dave scored the first Argyle goal of the game. Despite playing in nine of the last ten games he never scored again that season. Dave's Brother Bob, never settled in Plymouth and left the club to join Fulham at the end of the season.
1947-48 saw a new centre forward arrive at Home Park, Maurice Tadman, and even though Dave had finished the previous season as leading goalscorer after trying them both out new manager Jimmy Rae picked Maurice as his first choice number 9.
Dave scored in the second game of the season a 2-1 defeat at Leicester but didn't score again until 20th December in a 3-0 win at home to Newcastle when he scored in between goals from Frank Squires and George Dews.
In January he got his first cup goal for the club when he scored in a FA Cup third round game at home to Luton watched by Argyle's best crowd of the season of 36,195, unfortunately they didn't see a win with the Hatters winning 4-2.
The following Saturday Dave played in his last game, a 2-1 win at home to West Brom with Maurice Tadman and Bill Strauss scoring the goals.
After making one hundred appearances from which he scored a respectable 44 goals Dave was transferred to Watford.
Dave spent three seasons at Vicarage Road and finished their leading goalscorer in two of them before moving on to Gillingham.
While at Watford he made 105 appearances and score 41 goals.
Despite being 33 Dave continued to score goals, in his first season for the Kent club he once again ended the season as leading goalscorer and the following year he was the joint leading goalscorer with team mate Derek Lewis.
After playing for Gillingham 80 times and scoring 42 goals at the end of the 1952-53 season he retired from league football.
Dave hadn't entirely retired from playing football, he finished off his career at non-league Sittingbourne.
When he retired Dave lived in Dovercourt, a small seaside town in Essex where he died on 30th March 1991 aged 73.
Date:Monday July 7 2014
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