Filling the shoes of a club legend is by no means an easy feat to achieve just look at the dilemma the Roosters are in this year with the retirement of Brad Fittler.
The great Bob Fulton departed Manly after captaining the club to the 1976 premiership not only was he the captain but the 5/8 and basically the whole game plan was based around him. How could we possibly replace such a legend?
A slightly built Narrabeen junior with a great step and deft passing game had been running around in the lower grades for a few years and had tasted first grade during 1976. He played mainly as a centre in those days but he had all the skills and determination to make a great pivot. So with Bozos departure Alan Thompson was thrown into the key 5/8 role in 1977.
Although another premiership was not forthcoming in 1977, it was a seem less transition for Thommo into the Bozos old position. His defence was immaculate around the rucks however his attacking game and his uncanny combination with fullback Graham Eadie produced many a Manly victory. Thommo seemed to be able to hit Wombats chest with a long cut out back line pass almost anytime in a game. For those of you remember the great man, once Wombat was in the clear a try was almost always forthcoming.
Alan was an integral part of the 1978 march to premiership glory, possibly the greatest semi final campaign of any side in history 5 games in 16 days including 2 mid week replays.
Over the next few seasons Thommo represented his county with distinction in 7 tests whilst he wore the sky blue NSW jumper on 10 occasions including the early State of Origin matches where he did battle with a young Wally Lewis.
Further premiership glory eluded Thommo although he did play in the losing grand final sides of 1982/83. In a majestic career Alan Thompson played in 261 first grade games for the Sea Eagles scoring 62 tries and 2 field goals.
Coaching beckoned for Thommo and he coached the 1988 reserve grade led by Peter Cullum to the premiership. In 1989 he took over again from Bob Fulton as coach of the first grade. Unfortunately it was a disappointing year for the club with some internal disputes (an unhappy Dale Shearer) and a change in the playing roster occurring after the comedown from the glorious 1987 premiership team (eg Fattys departure to Easts).
He was controversially replaced by Graham Lowe at the end of the season, the first outside coach of the Sea Eagles since Wally Oconnell came to the club in the 1950s. Suffice to say Thommo didnt leave on great terms which is a shame considering his magnificent contribution to the club over nearly 20 seasons. Alan Thompson another great Sea Eagle.