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Guiding Me Home and Away By Dave Thomas

Release date: 27th September, 2019
Publisher: Hornet Books

List Price: Ł16.99
Our Price: Ł13.81
You Save: Ł3.18 (18%)
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I was fortunate enough to see Dave Thomas playing during his heyday. He was an exceptional midfielder who combined pace and vision with excellent distribution, a wonderful ability to scoot past defenders as though they weren’t there and a useful knack of finding the back of the net. He should have played for England 50 times, not eight.

Like so many others sporting memories, the permanent image of Thomas flying down the wing is filed away in the mind’s deepest recesses. We always remember our sporting heroes as they were rather than what they become; the ageing process take no account of how many international caps they may have won.

Nevertheless, we imagine that because they were so fit, so dedicated, sportsmen and women will remain sprightly well into old age.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily follow. Doddie Weir and Stiliyan Petrov, for instance, are two who succumbed to diseases which prove that our sporting heroes are human after all.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a newspaper interview with Dave Thomas; it was one of the most poignant I’ve ever read. Dave Thomas, he of boundless energy, socks rolled down, was now registered blind. Buying his book was a must.

With David Roberts and Bob Young, Thomas has written Guiding Me Home and Away, the proceeds from which are going to support Guide Dogs. It’s an inspirational story.

Essentially, Guiding Me Home and Away is a biography which recalls Thomas’s breakthrough at Burnley, once a conveyor belt for exceptional talent, and his father’s rejection of a (then) massive signing-on fee offered to persuade young David to sign for Leeds. Refreshingly, Mr Thomas senior advised Leeds that his son had signed a contract with Burnley and that was that.

After Turf Moor, Thomas moved to QPR then onto Goodison Park where many believe he was at his peak (although his England appearances came when he played for QPR), before heading to Wolves, Vancouver, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth. His professional career spanned almost 20 years.

Post-football, the focus of Thomas’s tale shifts subtly. He became a PE teacher in his native County Durham, but it wasn’t until 2008 that a letter from the DVLA advised him to stop driving with immediate effect. Visiting Epsom races with his wife not long after, the need for a guide dog becomes painfully evident.

It’s at this point that Hannah, his faithful guide dog arrives and Thomas’s life is transformed.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story. If you have any sporting memories locked away, you must buy the book and support a great cause at the same time.

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