William "Digger" Thomas

William Alfred Benjamin "Digger" Thomas (3 June 1890 – 6 October 1953) was an Australian rules footballer who played with East Perth and Subiaco in the West Australian Football League (WAFL).

William "Digger" Thomas
Personal information
Full name William Alfred Benjamin Thomas
Date of birth (1890-06-03)3 June 1890
Place of birth Broken Hill, New South Wales
Date of death 6 October 1953(1953-10-06) (aged 63)
Original team(s) Warriors
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1911–1914 Subiaco 57 (10)
1915–1916, 1918-1928 East Perth 177 (76)
1917 East Fremantle 13 (1)
Total 247 (87)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1928.
Career highlights
  • WAFL premiership player 1913, 1919-1923, 1927
Source: AustralianFootball.com

He is always mentioned in football records with his nickname, Digger, as there was another William Thomas (not related) also appeared for East Perth and won a Sandover Medal six years after Digger Thomas did.

Thomas, who was born in Broken Hill, started out in the Goldfields Football League where he played for the Warriors. He joined the WAFL in 1911 and played 32 games for Subiaco, including their 1913 premiership team. Thomas had missed their inaugural premiership side the previous year as he had been suspended for striking.

After a season with East Fremantle in 1917, Thomas transferred to East Perth where he would spend the rest of his career. He was a member of six premierships, five of them in succession, and won a Sandover Medal in 1923 to become the first ever East Perth player to win the award.

He represented Western Australia in a total of twelve interstate matches, including the 1914, 1921 and 1924 carnivals. At the Sydney Carnival of 1914 he put in a memorable performance in a game against Queensland, kicking 14 goals.

Thomas finished his career with 247 WAFL games, which remained a West Australian record until broken by Ray Schofield in 1958. Before his retirement in 1928, he also spent some time coaching in New South Wales.

He was the father of East Perth and Essendon player Ritchie Thomas.


  • East, Alan (2006). The Sandover Medal Men. Noranda, Western Australia. pp. 19–21. ISBN 0-9775813-0-6.
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