'My ex-England team-mate Alan Ball stabbed me in the back at Portsmouth and I never forgave him' - Former Everton and Burnley winger Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas has revealed how he was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Alan Ball at Pompey.

Friday, 11th February 2022, 8:00 am

And it prompted him to vow to never again return to the ‘skulduggery’ of the professional game.

Former Everton, Burnley and QPR winger Thomas joined the Blues in the summer of 1982 and went on to make 31 appearances.

During the final two years of his four-year Fratton Park stay, he oversaw the reserves and youth team as a coach, with the likes of Lee Sandford and Brett Angell emerging.

But the manner of Thomas’ departure at the hands of ‘Marmite’ manager Ball – a former England team-mate – still rankles.

He told The News: ‘I didn’t have the best time at Pompey, I will be very, very honest with you.

‘I didn’t play well for Pompey, I didn’t perform to the capabilities that I knew I could, and had niggling hamstring injuries.

‘I finished playing aged 34 and Mr Deacon told Alan Ball that he’d like me to be youth-team and reserve-team coach, combining the jobs, on a two-year deal.

Dave Thomas claims Alan Ball 'stabbed' him in the back at Pompey. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Allsport

‘If it had been Ball’s choice, he wouldn’t have had me. I never truly felt I was part of the coaching staff. Then, when we had the chance, he stabbed me in the back.

‘With my coaching contract coming to an end, Mr Deacon told me: “David, I'm not renewing your contract”. I wouldn’t be replaced, though, with first-team coach Graham Paddon to look after the youth team in addition to the reserves.

‘Then, two weeks later, Ball’s big buddy Peter Osgood had my job. I never forgave Bally for that. Ever.

‘Bally always kept me well, he never had a go at me, was always very respectful. I got on well with Graham (Paddon), who took the reserves when I was there to allow me to concentrate on the youth-team, which was better for me.

Dave Thomas spent four seasons at Fratton Park, two of which were as a coach, before leaving in the summer of 1986

‘But sometimes after training they would go for lunch and leave me at the club, never asking me to go with them. I used to go out with the physio John Dickens instead.

‘I was done up like a kipper. Bally was the sort of guy you either liked or hated, complete Marmite.

‘Everyone likes honesty, of course they do, and sometimes honesty hurts. So don’t go behind my back and get your mate in when you’ve verbally told me there isn’t a youth-team coach.

‘After leaving Pompey, I got a phone call from Bruce Rioch at Middlesbrough, who offered me a job.

Former Pompey player Dave Thomas with his guide dog Hannah. Dave is registered blind

‘I said “You can offer me the England job Bruce, but football’s not for me”. I couldn’t stand the skulduggery.’

Thomas would return to the game at Bognor, yet never to the Football League.

He later ran his own gardening business, worked as a PE teacher at Bishop Luffa School in Chichester and left the south coast in 2010 to return to his native north-east.

Thomas added: ‘Bognor got my mojo back.

‘I played there for a year and then coached – and had the best six years. I absolutely loved it.

‘Jack Pearce remains a life-long friend, what a great club. I coached them two nights a week and went to the matches, it was fantastic.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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