Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Richard John Harold Thomas

Known as
Ritchie Thomas

13 July 1915

Place of birth
Mount Lawley, WA (6050)

30 July 1988 (aged 73)

Place of death
Perth, WA (6000)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 26y 34d
Last game: 26y 55d

Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Senior clubs
East Perth; Essendon

Jumper numbers
Essendon: 10

State of origin

Family links
William 'Digger' Thomas (Father)

Ritchie Thomas

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
East PerthWANFL1933-1941, 1945-194820720.01
Total1933-1941, 1945-194821120.01

AFL: 4,985th player to appear, 10,238th most games played, 11,375th most goals kickedEssendon: 559th player to appear, 912th most games played, 1,069th most goals kicked

A quintessential no-nonsense, hard-as-nails defender, Ritchie Thomas was a key member of East Perth teams on either side of World War II. The son of the Royals’ 1925 Sandover Medallist, William ‘Digger’ Thomas, he shared his father’s almost fanatical dedication to physical fitness, and indeed was widely acknowledged as one of the fittest players going around throughout his 12-season, 211-game league career, which included four games for Essendon during a war-time posting to Melbourne. 

Thomas made his senior debut in 1933, and was on a half-back flank three years later when East Perth overcame both the Grand Final challenge of Claremont and the weight of popular public sentiment, in a tensely fought Grand Final. A stay-at-home backman of the old school (he managed only two goals during his entire league career), Thomas produced much of his best football at centre half back, where he combined considerable strength overhead with perhaps surprising adeptness at ground level, all laced with the trademark Thomas aggression and never-say-die spirit. 

Winner of the Royals’ fairest-and-best award in 1939 (jointly with Dave Miller) and 1940, Ritchie Thomas played interstate football for Western Australia on four occasions, and might perhaps be considered slightly unfortunate to have failed to achieve selection in either of East Perth’s official ‘Teams of the Century’.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.