|I'm a Doonhamer now says Jim|
Although born and raised in the shadow of the Campsie Fells, Jim Thomson now considers himself a naturalised Doonhamer."I suppose you could say I used to be an inverted Doonhamer" explains the likeable Queens' skippper. "Unlike the story I've been told so often of how the name Doonhamer originated - that is Dumfries men last century working all week in Glasgow then coming 'Doon Hame' for the weekend. Well I did it the other way round. I actually lived in the central belt and for several years travelled down to Dumfries at weekends to play football. But I,ve never regretted it!
"I now stay in Dumfries and think I should qualify to be a true Doonhamer. However I've no intention of doning that 'Dougie Doonhamer' outfit" he joked. "I love the town, I love the people and I love Queen of the South. And the Queens fans are absolutely brilliant - in the words of Tina Turner they're 'Simply the Best'. I'd like to end my career here at Palmerston and, who knows, I might even become a coach once my playing days are over"
Jim's introduction to football was playing for his local team, Campsie Black Watch. "I'll always be greatly indebted to the manager, Gerry Marley, who gave me a chance when no one else would" says Jim. "Also to my father who's supported me throughout my career and to Rowan Alexander who first signed me as a player at Palmerston".
His first senior club was Clyde, whom he helped to a Second Division Championship then, after a spell with Stenhousemuir, he arrived at Palmerston on New Year's Day, 1997. "We had some really good players at that time" he recalls. "Tommy Bryce had a great footballing brain and a vision second to none. He should really have been playing at a much higher level. George Rowe was another excellent player. He wasn't all that tall but his power and timing in the air and some of the goals he scored were fantastic.
"There were some real characters as well. Des McKeown could raise a laugh whenever he appeared, whether it be the dressing room or the team coach and David Kennedy (skip) was one of my best mates and a right character as well.
"We reached the final of the Challenge Cup in 1997. We were in the Second Division then and beat three First Division sides - Stirling Albion, Airdrie and Morton en route to the final. With over 5,000 Queens' fans in Fir Park that day, there was a tremendous atmosphere, and although we lost 1-0 to Falkirk, it was a day I'll never forget.
"When I left Palmerston to move to Arbroath it was a sad day for me. I never wanted to go, but had to for personal reasons. However, when I was at Gayfield I helped them win promotion, so I left on a high note.
"Then John Connolly brought me back to Queens, and I'll be eternally grateful to him for that. He has proved an excellent manager and to win two trophies in six months was exceptional. He knows a good player when he sees one, but the team always comes first, and no matter how good you are, if you don't fit into the team plan, you don't play.
"We started this season a bit apprehensively and a lot of injuries didn't help. But then we got some of our key players back, and after the first quarter of the season we all realised that most of the teams in the league were no better than us, so after a few wins the confidence just grew.
"Winning the League Championship last season was undoubtedly the highlight of my football career. At the start of every season, it's every footballer's dream to win the league title, and we did it. Winning it with Queens meant much more to me than winning it at Clyde, for I've so many friends in Dumfries now and I was so happy for them.
"That win at Forfar last year to clinch the title was my most memorable match, and coming only seven days after beating Hamilton to ensure promotion made it a week I'll never forget.
Beating Brechin City to win the Challenge Cup was another great day, but I must admit it was a wee bit of an anti-climax compared to winning the Championship. Let's face it, we had to play 35 games to clinch the title, but we only had to win five games to win the cup. Nevertheless it was still brilliant to lift it.
"I think the comaraderie in the dressing room played a major role in our success. There's no cliques, and everyone is treated the same. Andy Goram is a real character and just loves his football. Despite all his honours and success on the international front, he is just one of the boys. He's great with the youth players and gives them every encouragement. But he hates losing goals and even at training, if someone slots one past him he goes ballistic.
"I've had a few injuries in my time" admits Jim. "But the fractured cheek bone I suffered at Stenhousemuir was a bad one. And to make matters worse, Ian Ferguson never even said 'sorry'. But that's football, and you just have to get on with it.
"I'm really looking forward to Saturday's cup-tie with Aberdeen. I actually supported the 'Dons' when I was a boy, so I'd love to beat them. We go into the game as underdogs, and have nothing to lose. We only lost 2-1 to them in the League Cup last season, and we are all quietly confident we can beat them this time around."
And a final word from manager John Connolly "I rate Jim Thomson as one of the best signings I've made. When he joined us I had no hesitation in making him club captain, for he leads by example and gives 100% effort in every game."