Mr. G. A. Thomas23 November, 2016
Mr. G. A. Thomas is well-known to all readers of THE BADMINTON GAZETTE, not only as a particularly energetic tournament player, but as the Editor of the GAZETTE since the second number appeared in December, 1907.
It is never easy to start a new publication, even when there is a special public waiting for it, and a great debt of gratitude is, therefore, due to Mr. Thomas for the energy and enterprise with which he set going the official organ of the Badminton Association, and made it a valuable source of information and interest to an ever-increasing number of readers. While the latter will learn with real regret that he is this season retiring from the Editorship, they will see with equally real satisfaction that he is at length appearing in the GAZETTE’S portrait gallery of well-known players, from which he persistently excluded himself, in spite of protest and persuasion.
Mr. Thomas first began to play badminton at Southsea in 1900. In those days open tournaments were with one or two exceptions, limited to the meeting in London at which the All England Championships were competed for. He entered for these, then in the second year of their existence, after less than three months' practice, and reached the semi-final of the men's open doubles. Even allowing for the difference in the standard of play between then and now, this was a very promising performance for a beginner, and could only have been accomplished by one having a special aptitude for the game.
In 1903 Mr. Thomas won his first Championship, the All England Mixed Doubles, in partnership with Miss E. W. Thomson, and with the number of open tournaments rapidly increasing, many other trophies were soon added to that one. It is easier, indeed, to enumerate the Championships Mr. Thomas has not won than those he has. His name is on every existing Open Challenge cup, with the exception of the All England Singles, the Mixed Doubles Championship of London, and the Mixed Doubles Championship of North Wales cups, while he has won seven challenge cups outright - the West of England Mixed Doubles, with Miss Hogarth, in 1908; the South of England Men's Doubles, with Dr. Marrett, in 1908; the Northern Men’s Doubles, with Mr. F. Chesterton, in 1909; the Scottish Singles, in 1912; the Irish Mixed Doubles, with Mrs. Tragett in 1912; and the All England Men's Doubles, with Dr. Marrett, in 1912. During the present season he has a number of third year cups to defend, and it is safe to predict that he will permanently retain several of them.
As a club member, Mr. Thomas is closely associated with the Crystal Palace, though he has always also been a member of The Services Club, Southsea, and was its secretary for some years. He joined the Crystal Palace Club early in his badminton career, when tournaments were still few, and inter-club matches were the chief means of obtaining practice and experience, and has always played in all its more important fixtures, taking part in those historic annual encounters between the Ealing Club and the Crystal Palace Club, which were once quite the events of the badminton match season. He played for the Crystal Palace in the London League matches from the time the League was formed until last year, when the Palace withdrew from the League, and he became member of the Bee Club team.
As a player, Mr. Thomas has all the usual weapons of attack and defence at his command, possessing in addition some characteristic strokes of his own,and it is by these that he is particularly remembered by badminton onlookers. A deceptive back-hand push shot which comes to ground half-way down his opponents' side line, though to all appearances it should have travelled across the court; a drop-shot, near the net, also back-hand, equally misleading, which is apt to make an inexperienced opponent move in the opposite direction from which it falls; and a cut drop-shot, played from left to right along the net, are strokes thoroughly enjoyed by tournament spectators, who have come to regard them with an almost proprietary interest. These shots, too, seem to give particular pleasure to Mr.Thomas's weaker opponents, whom he completely deceives with them; it must be supposed that, like everyone else, they prefer to be beaten by a good shot rather than by the persistent return of the shuttle, or by a "kill", which is, perhaps, more or less mechanical.
Mr. Thomas is always an interesting player to watch, for his game is never stereotyped. He adapts it to a nicety to his opponents' abilities and disabilities, while every shot is made with “intention”. He has not specialised in any particular branch of the game; judging from results, he is equally successful in them all - singles, men's doubles, and mixed doubles.
In the latter he is a staunch advocate of the strict back-and-front formation as against the running-in-and-out game that has become popular the last few seasons, and if there is anything to choose, he is perhaps at his best when playing at the back of the court with a good lady at the net. Certainly on these occasions he displays the greatest variety of strokes, a feint drop-shot, from the back of the court, which falls very quickly, being especially effective against opponents playing “sides”. He and Miss Hogarth, with whom he has won a number of Mixed Doubles' Championships, are a particularly strong combination, and no pair not on the very top of their game could hope to beat them.
It is an open secret that it is one of Mr. Thomas's special ambitions to hold the All England Championship Singles Cup, and he must be considered a little unlucky not to have already done so, seeing that he has won every other Open Single at one time or other. No doubt sooner or later he will win the All England Singles' championship also. He certainly has many well-wishers for his success in that direction.
Mr. Thomas has served for a number of years on the committee of the Badminton Association, and has done a great deal towards the development of the game. He has given assistance in many ways to organisers of tournaments in all parts of the country, and is always sympathetic and encouraging to beginners and promising players.
Mr. Thomas is, of course, a prominent lawn tennis player. During the last two or three seasons he has made his way right into the front rank, so much so that a distracted tournament secretary, seeking in his mind for someone “to beat Thomas” (with a view to saving a cup), came to the regretful conclusion that among those who might be lured to tournaments, only a few could be depended on to do so. It is a fact that his tennis in some details shows the badminton player, while at badminton the summer sportsman is invisible. As a chess-player he is also well known, displaying in this direction a talent which is, perhaps, to some extent hereditary, his mother, Lady Thomas, having formerly been a prize-winner at several ladies' tournaments. He played for England in the cable match with America in 1910, and in 1911, when this country won outright the trophy presented by the late Sir George Newnes. In fact, Mr. Thomas is a triple international, having also represented England at badminton and lawn tennis.
In addition to these distinctions, he at one time played hockey for his county (Hampshire), and it is rumoured that when it was fashionable he was invincible at ping-pong !
-- The Badminton Gazette – October 1912