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"God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast and when I run, I feel his pleasure."

Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

Guiding me home & away

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The autobiography, Dave Thomas, Hornet Books, 2019 ISBN 978-0-8857657-7-0

In 2008, former England international footballer, Dave Thomas, was aware that his eyesight was deteriorating and he was referred for a field of vision test to renew his driving licence. Shortly afterwards he received a letter from the DVLA stating that his overall vision did not meet the DVLA criteria. He was no longer deemed to be safe to drive. The letter was short and to the point: “We are sorry to inform you that you are unable to drive again”. Dave Thomas’s life changed totally in that moment.

The book charts the career of Thomas, Burnley, QPR, Everton and England followed by struggles at the end of his career. He made eight appearances for England in a 13-month period. Then, aged 25, his England career was over. He never played for England again. Why? “I wish I could answer that”, he replied. “I was at QPR playing great football because you had to be playing well for your club to get into the England team - now you can get in the England team even if you’re not playing in your club team, which I find unbelievable because you wouldn’t have got in, in my day. When I went to Everton, I was probably playing better there than I had been in QPR and I never even made a squad. My managers at Everton could never work out either why I was never called up for England”.

He was part of the greatest ever QPR team with Stan Bowles, Gerry Francis, Frank McLintock and others which finished second to Liverpool in the league in 1975-76.

The book is an interesting “social history” of football in the 1970s, revealing how different the current Premier League is in terms of money, facilities, backroom support and the quality of the pitches, to name but a few.

The latter chapters of the book describe his coming to terms with the sight loss, obtaining a guide dog and then becoming passionate about raising money to help others get dogs. An enjoyable book with a great human story.

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