Len Ernest Thompson
27 August 1947
18 September 2007 (aged 60)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 22d
Last game: 32y 306d
Height and weight
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 96 kg
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
AFL: 7,765th player to appear, 91st most games played, 235th most goals kickedCollingwood: 671st player to appear, 6th most games played, 27th most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 1,065th player to appear, 585th most games played, 192nd most goals kickedFitzroy: 968th player to appear, 566th most games played, 239th most goals kicked
Great though he undoubtedly was, and as much as he accomplished, one sometimes got the impression that Len Thompson could have achieved almost anything he wanted out of the game had his self-belief equalled his ability, or had he enjoyed at least his fair share of the rub of the green. Combining physical enormity (200 cm, 96 kg) with tremendous athleticism, Thompson sometimes ruled the ruck contests as though he owned them, whilst simultaneously providing Collingwood with a formidable around the ground presence.
The Magpies recruited Thompson from North Reservoir after he had initially been rejected by Essendon, a club which, ironically, would end up struggling in the ruck for much of Thompson's career. Len Thompson played a total of 268 VFL games and booted 217 goals for the 'Woods between 1965 and 1978, winning the club's best and fairest award a record five times, as well as securing the 1972 Brownlow Medal.
Thompson later played briefly for both South Melbourne (20 games and 39 goals in 1979) and Fitzroy (13 games, 19 goals, 1980), but his name will forever be synonymous with Collingwood. Undoubtedly the biggest disappointment of Len Thompson's auspicious, 16-season, 301-game VFL career was his failure to play in a single premiership team, despite appearing in four Grand Finals. He was a regular 'Big V' interstate representative, and achieved All Australian selection after the 1972 Perth carnival. In 1989, Thompson served as coach of Preston in the VFA, but the side's 9-9 record was not good enough for it to make the finals.
When Collingwood selected its official 'Team of the Twentieth Century' Len Thompson was a 'shoe-in' choice to lead the first ruck.
In September 2007 he sadly passed away, aged 60, after suffering a heart attack.
Author - John Devaney