The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Ben Baker

HIS friend­ship with cap­tain Paul Hayes might have led him to Wy­combe Wan­der­ers, but it is Garry Thompson’s re­la­tion­ship with Brad­ford City’s Nick Al­lenby that he be­lieves will al­low him to thrive at Adams Park.

Life cer­tainly be­gan at 30 for Thompson, with the vet­eran striker – now aged 34 – en­joy­ing the most fruit­ful cam­paigns of his ca­reer in the last few sea­sons.

And the di­vid­ing line can be at­trib­uted to life be­fore and af­ter Al­lenby – the Ban­tams fit­ness coach who is still at the League One club.


While with Al­lenby and Brad­ford, Thompson – who ar­rived at the age of 31 – helped the club reach the Cap­i­tal One Cup fi­nal and win pro­mo­tion from League Two. And he left to go on and be­come Notts County’s top­scorer last sea­son, with 12 goals, as the Mag­pies fell out of League One.

Now Thompson finds him­self play­ing for last year’s League Two play-off fi­nal losers Wy­combe, where he once again joins forces with Hayes af­ter the pair helped fire Scun­thorpe to the Cham­pi­onship six years ago.

But, while he ad­mits the Chair­boys cap­tain was in­flu­en­tial in see­ing him put pen to pa­per, Thompson is adamant it is the teach­ings of Al­lenby that will help the Ken­dal-born front man flour­ish down south.

“I’ve known Paul from our days at Scun­thorpe,” said Thompson. “He is a good friend of mine, a good lad and a good player to have on the pitch and around a football club.

“I spoke to him a week or so af­ter the fi­nal dis­ap­point­ment and he had some great things to say about the club, even though he was still ob­vi­ously down about what had hap­pened.

“So I came down, as Paul’s wife Ab­bie and my wife Chelsea are good friends, and got a good feel for things, be­cause that is im­por­tant at my age when you are mov­ing south for the first time.

“It was a big de­ci­sion and Paul played a mas­sive part in that, as did the gaffer be­cause he rang me the day af­ter the fi­nal, and when some­one wants you that much it re­ally adds to your level of con­fi­dence.

“I’m con­vinced that this club is right at this stage of my ca­reer, and now I’m here I am feel­ing as fit and healthy as ever and con­fi­dent I can con­trib­ute – even though I’m 35 in Novem­ber.

“I have met some very good fit­ness coaches at all my clubs.

“But the one that had the big­gest im­pact on me was Nick Al­lenby at Brad­ford, and that has stayed with me un­til now.

“He urged me to be leaner and I went down that road and have ben­e­fit­ted from it ever since.

“And since I turned 30, my games-to-sea­son ra­tio has been mas­sive. I have played about 300 matches in the last five sea­sons.

“Nick told me to look af­ter my­self, eat the right things, taught me the proper stretch­ing and fit­ness work, and it is some­thing I have taken on board and it has helped me be­come the player I am now.”

Af­ter last sea­son’s rel­e­ga­tion with Notts County, you could ex­cuse Thompson for only look­ing up the League Two ta­ble af­ter the Chair­boys came so close to a dream day out at Wem­b­ley.

But the ex-More­cambe trainee is not about to get car­ried away, de­spite Wy­combe be­ing one of the early front-run­ners again this year.


“We are not set­ting our tar­gets that high this sea­son,” he added. “When I joined Wy­combe they said that this was the sec­ond year of a fiveyear plan and, while plenty of peo­ple thought we over­achieved last sea­son, from our point of view the pri­mary suc­cess of the year was stay­ing up.

“We did that and this sea­son we are first and fore­most look­ing to fin­ish mid ta­ble. We are look­ing at 61 points and then we will take it from there.

“We over achieved last year and ex­pec­ta­tion from ev­ery­one else might be to push on this year.

“But we know where we want to be and we will see what hap­pens.”

FA­MIL­IAR FACES: Thompson (left) is close friends with cap­tain Hayes (right)

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