Eddie Thomas seemed the very antithesis of a professional athlete. Fragile and gaunt, when up against some of the hatchet men of his era one would always have bet against him. But, recalled Brian Labone, ‘As a player, he was unbelievable. He looked so slight, but he didn't half possess a powerful shot and he was so nippy. He was a nightmare to mark.’
Thomas worked his way through the Everton youth ranks, national service delaying his debut until March 1957, when he was well past his 23rd birthday. His impact was almost immediate, however, and he scored a brace in only his second game, a 3-1 victory at Birmingham City. Throughout his Everton career his scoring record would remain enviable, despite always playing in poor teams.
As John Moores’ influence began to draw a better standard of player to the club, Thomas initially held his own. He was Everton’s top scorer through the first half of the 1959/60 season, outshining even Bobby Collins. But in February 1960 a bid was accepted for Blackburn’s Roy Vernon and Johnny Carey deemed Thomas expendable, a makeweight in the deal that brought the Welshman to Goodison.
He spent two years at Ewood Park, before moving to Swansea Town. There followed spells with Derby County and Leyton Orient, before his retirement in 1968 – well into the veteran stage of his career.
After his retirement he settled in Derby, home of the club that had arguably witnessed his best years. But he remained an Evertonian at heart and was a regular visitor to Goodison up till his death in 2003.