Friday, 7 April 2006

Geoff Thomas

Tonight, last night, Thursday night was a bit special. Even if you don't know who Geoff Thomas is or what on earth (or where) Crytstal Palace Football Club is, you'll have heard of leukaemia. And if I told you that Geoff Thomas is one of my personal heroes then of course it's a little sad and fitting the one dimensional male profile that he is a footballer and Crystal Palace are my team and he was the captain in our most successful period, the one in which I fell in love with the game. Yeah, I know how sad it sounds and I've stopped caring. And when Geoff (see, I call him by his first name) was diagnosed with leukaemia it really meant something. It's part of the aging process I suppose and short of having a close relative or friend die, having a hero fall seriously ill is something to come to terms with. Anyway, Geoff got very ill and is getting better all the time (look at and give a little something please) and I am proud that last April a colleague and I raised a decent sum for his campaign. And I am proud that I went to his testimonial tonight/last night/Thursday.
(Geoff Thomas, right, meeting his old manager and team mates)
Sporting heroes don't always grow old gracefully in the way that actors, musicans etc can. But it sometimes helps to be reminded of why they're your heroes. Geoff's charity work is entirely consistent with his on-field determination from days gone by. Mark Bright, Ian Wright, John Salako, Richard Shaw, Phil Barber, Dave Madden and co were all important to me once and seeing them come together for something like this reminded why. I could bang on about how football has changed for the worse, how fantastic these players were and so on but each generation is different. I will always think back to these people when thinking about heroes and when I think about my own illness (see, I had to make this about me) I will always be inspired by Geoff.

But I'll also be inspired by those close to me. Around the time I, unknowingly, started my descent towards heart failure, two friends, Logan and Sam were taking part in the British Heart Foundation's London to Brighton cycle ride. I will always consider acts like this to be of the utmost importance. And although I'm not going to start a foundation or take part in massive events, I am going to take the time to consider how to make my life better, perhaps really going for the weight loss to take the pressure off the heart rather than the half-hearted (sorry) and limp efforts I'm making at the moment. When I'm back in action properly I will take the time to consider what I can do to help those around me, even if in small ways. I have no intention of ever applying for hero status, simply alive will do.
(Mark Bright. Legend. Fact.)
Thank you Geoff. You gave me such pleasure in the late eighties and early nineties. I fondly wish we had won the 1990 FA Cup Final against Man Utd. But you really gave me and my brother something special then. And tonight/last night/ Thursday you allowed me and my friends to come together and discuss an event that we were all involved in and our parts in it, even though we didn't know each other at the time. It's great to be a one-dimensional male every so often. And Geoff, I thank you for reminding me of that.
(Geoff Thomas and Bryan Robson before the start of the 1990 FA Cup Final, the game we came together to re-create in south London tonight, last night, Thursday).

(And thank you to Paul Wright of as the first three photographs are his (well, maybe not the first one and as of Friday morning not the second either which is a blatant steal from the current bun) and I haven't even attempted to get permission. Sorry and thanks)