Football Burp awoke from a stupor this morning to the sad news that former Wales left-back Ben Thatcher has died at the age of 37 following a stroke.
Although it is not yet clear who stroked him, the former Millwall, Wimbledon, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Manchester City, Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town defender had no shortage of enemies in the game due to his uncompromising playing style, the most notable example of which is this sickening assault on then-Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes…
It was the second time in less than three weeks that Thatcher’s elbow had hospitalised an opponent, following an incident on a pre-season tour of China which resulted in a career-threatening collapsed lung for 20-year-old Shanghai Shenhua midfielder Yang Chungang. Thatcher also faced possible action from Lancashire Police over a clash with ex-Blackburn Rovers player Ralph Welch during a reserve game at Ewood Park in February 2006.
However, in Football Burp’s editorial opinion, none of this justifies the seemingly nationwide celebrations that have greeted Thatcher’s demise, nor some of the more outlandish claims made about his life’s work and misdemeanours. In the last few hours, we’ve heard people blame him for the Falklands, the miners’ strike, mass homelessness/unemployment, the disenfranchisement of black youth, Section 28 and the Battle of Beanfield, amongst other things – but this shouldn’t be the time to remember all of that. This should be the time to remember:
* when Thatcher was named as Millwall’s player of the year for the 1995-96 season
* when Thatcher received a League Cup runner’s up medal while at Spurs
* his goal for Leicester in a 4-4 draw against Spurs
* some other good thing he did that you might remember
So to all the trolls, misanthropes, tossers and lunatics out there who would decry Thatcher’s contribution to football on these shores: take a hike, Mike!
RIP Ben Thatcher: a half decent left back.