Joe Thompson

Birth Place
Hambrook, Bristol
Great Britain; Wales
Heritage Number


Debut: Vs Huddersfield (H) 10th February 1923

Leeds Honours: Championship (Finalist: 1929, 1930, 1931), Challenge Cup (Winner: 1923, 1932), Yorkshire Cup (Winner: 1928-29, 1930-31, 1932-33), Yorkshire League (Winner: 1927-28, 1930-31)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2018

An astonishing welcome awaited the Leeds team on their triumphal return from Wigan with the Rugby League Cup, after their win over Swinton in the final on the 9th of April, 1932. Crowds began to collect in City Square and thousands of people lined both sides of Boar Lane to Briggate. So huge was the crowd that police reserves were called to clear a passage, 82 tramcars stretching for half a mile along Wellington Street.

A few minutes after eight, a great shout announced the arrival of a motor coach with the team on their way to the Griffin Hotel, itself surrounded by an estimated 10,000 fans, for a commemorative dinner.

All demanded to see the captain, who had kicked four vital goals, and the trophy. A miner from age 13, he had joined Leeds in January 1923, aged 20 from Cross Keys for £300, after making a sole appearance at Twickenham for Wales – receiving that cap 52 years later. Within 16 games and 11 weeks, he had his first Challenge Cup winners’ medal as Hull were downed after a replay.

Signed as a second rower, he moved to prop where his skill in the loose with both hands and feet became a feature of the sides’ play at the start of Leeds’ first golden era; he was described as ‘the complete footballer.’

Not initially a goal kicker, by assiduous practice he became one of the code’s best, the first Leeds player to land 100 in a season, in 1927-8, and twice topping the goals and points standings overall.

He played in 25 internationals, 12 of them Tests, captained Wales – for whom he played eight times – against the 1930 Kangaroos, and appeared seven times for Glamorgan & Monmouthshire RL and five for Other Nationalities.

According to Leeds chairman Sir Edwin Airey: “He was a model servant of the club, always loyal and conscientious and made his mark not only on every English ground, but on Australian enclosures.”

The first forward to be selected to go on three Great Britain tours in 1924, 28 and 32 (Lions heritage number 94) he played internationals in all of his 11 seasons with the Loiners.

He only once failed to finish a game, when kicked on the head against Queensland, when it was rumoured he had died.

Also known as, “dependability itself and reassuringly solid,” he appeared in seven finals and, on his retirement before the start of the 1933-4 season, he was made only the second life member of the club, the other being Lady Airey.

Instrumental in teaching Jean Galia’s men the rudiments of the sport that led to the formation of the game in France when Leeds coach in 1934-5, he also worked on the new South Stand in 1931 before a job with the Tramways Dept.

The first Leeds player to hold two Challenge Cup winner’s medals, he remains third in the club’s all-time list of points’ scorers with 1,883.

Leeds Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee - 2018