Them and us – Peter Thorne (Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers)

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Saturday’s clash with Blackburn Rovers gives TNS the chance to look back on the career of one of Blackburn Rovers’ and Wigan Athletic’s lesser lights.  Despite this he went on to a career filled with goals, step forward Peter Thorne.

Peter played as a striker and was born in Manchester on 21st June 1973 and started his career at Ewood Park in 1991, working his way through the youth system to become a prolific goalscorer for the Reserves.

However he failed to make the breakthrough to the first team as then manager Kenny Dalglish was bringing in the cream of the country’s talent to Ewood Park.  Talent that included the like of Chris Sutton, Alan Shearer and former Wigan Athletic hit man Mike Newell.

His only first team appearance for the club came in the 1994 Charity Shield at Wembley, and even then he only appeared as a 64th minute substitute for Mark Atkins.  It was not the best of days for young Peter as Rovers were beaten 2-0 in front of a 60,402 crowd by Manchester United who included future Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce in their ranks who also had ex Latics loanee Keith Gillespie sat on the bench.

Peter signed for Latics from Rovers in March 1994 in a loan deal. He made his Latics League debut against Northampton Town at Springfield Park, an encounter that resulted in a 1-1 draw. He made 11 consecutive League appearances (1 as a substitute) without scoring before returning to Ewood Park. Latics were in financial difficulties at the time and couldn’t afford to sign him in a permanent deal. Subsequently he was transferred to Swindon Town for a fee of £250,000 on 18th January 1995.

Although he didn’t get a chance at Ewood Park and his time at Springfield Park was unfruitful, he started to make his mark in the game at the County Ground, starting by scoring a couple of goals on his League debut against Burnley.  He went on to make 66+11 leagyue apperances during which he netted 27 times.  His goals went a long way to Swindon Town winning the Second Division title in 1996.  However when it came time to renew his contract he opted to sign for Stoke City on 25th July 1997 for a fee of £350,000.

He went on to make 145+12 league appearances (inc a play off game) for the Potters, netting 65 times in a period in which Stoke City also won the Auto Windcreens Shield at Wembley in 2000 when the Potters defeated Bristol City 2-1 in front of a 75.057 crowd at Wembley.  Playing for the Potters that day were also future Latics players Gavin Ward and Graham Kavanagh.  The referee incidentally was Kevin Lynch who also has a place in Latics folklore!

His scintillating form and eye for goal was spotted by Cardiff City manager Alan Cork who then paid a then club record fee of £1.750.000 for his services in September 2001.

He made 116+10 league appearances at Ninian Park during which he scored 46 times and in 2003 he was inspirational in City gaining promotion to the Championship, via the play-offs.

With a year left on his contract the then Bluebirds manager David Jones was forced to sell him, along with highly rated defender Danny Gabbidon and James Collins to West Ham United, to cut the club’s wage bill, as over spending had caused financial problems at Ninian Park.

He signed for Norwich City on a free transfer in July 2005 and it is fair to speculate that his time ion East Anglia was not the best period of his career.  After making 15+21 league appearances, scoring just once he was released by then Canaries manager Peter Grant in May 2007.

His last professional club was Bradford City with whom he once again found his scoring boots when he netted 31 times in 67+10 league appearances before hanging up his boots due to injury after being released by City manager Peter Taylor last year.


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