FORMER Lakes United president Tom Sheppard has seen plenty of men don the Seagulls blue-and-gold jersey over the decades.
He has never seen a tougher man in the club’s colours than Lakes great Allan Thomson.
The second-rower’s long list of accomplishments will be celebrated when Lakes wear a replica 1974 jersey emblazoned with Thomson’s image against Kurri Kurri at Cahill Oval as part of their old boys’ day.
The picture on the jersey is Thomson celebrating the Seagulls’ grand final win over Western Suburbs in 1975.
‘‘I don’t know if he’s the greatest player, but he’s definitely the toughest,’’ Sheppard said.
‘‘You talk to anyone and he was a really hard footballer. There was no compromises. It was straight up and down.
‘‘He didn’t have a great sidestep or anything else. He was more likely to run through or over you.’’
Thomson debuted in first grade aged 20 in 1963 and quickly established himself as a star.
He played in Newcastle’s 1964 State Cup-winning side and then in 1967 became the second Lakes player, after Albert Paul, to be picked for Australia out of the Newcastle league.
He played two Tests against New Zealand at home and one against France on the 1967-68 Kangaroos Tour.
By 1969 the lure of the Sydney competition took him to Manly, where he won a grand final in 1972 against Eastern Suburbs.
The following year he returned home to Belmont and captain-coached Lakes to back-to-back premierships in 1974 and 1975.
Thomson died in 2006 aged 63, but his wife, Barbara, and children, Alison and William, are expected to be at Cahill Oval on Saturday to issue the players with the jerseys.
The jerseys will auctioned after the game to raise money for the club.
Lakes have suffered financial hardship since going bankrupt after their 2007 premiership, but it is hoped the growing old boys’ club can help the Seagulls back to the top perch.
There are plans to build a room at the top of the Cahill Oval grandstand to host events, similar to Kurri Kurri’s old boys’ shed.
Meanwhile, the Seagulls have officially re-signed coach Dean Noonan for next season.
Lakes have improved dramatically in Noonan’s first year. They did not win a game last year but have beaten top-three sides Souths and Macquarie this season.
‘‘The job’s not quite done, and he’s admitted that, and he wants to be there until he gets it done,’’ Lakes committee member Grant Thompson-Laing said.