James Thiessen played his early football in Brentwood/Glen Waverley in Victoria. After some impressive performances in the Richmond Reserves in 1992-93, the Tigers selected him in the 1993 mid-season draft. Thiessen was chosen at number 2. In the same draft, Norwood's Matthew Ahmat was selected by Sydney at number one, and future Redlegs skipper Anthony Harvey went from Frankston to St. Kilda at pick number three.
Thiessen made his AFL debut late in the 1993 season against the Adelaide Crows at Football Park. He managed to play seven games for the year but was then delisted.
"Dodgey" as he was known, joined the Redlegs for the 1995 season, and became one of Norwood's very best Victorian recruits. Whether playing as a speedy wingman, or an elusive goal-kicking half forward, the popular Thiessen was regularly on the team's best player list. Playing across half forward, he kicked 8.2 against Port Adelaide at the Parade in his first year. He was Norwood's leading goal-kicker in 1995, with 54 goals.
His form was rewarded with State selection in 1997 and he was one of a record ten Norwood players to line up against the Australian Capital Territory. He was awarded the Fos Williams Medal for his best on ground performance for South Australia.
The year only got better, as he had an excellent finals series and the hard-running wingman proved to be an important contributor in Norwood's Grand Final win against Port Adelaide.
The Adelaide Crows drafted Thiessen at the end of 1997. He went on to play 44 AFL games over the next three seasons, which included the Crows' 1998 Grand Final victory over North Melbourne.
In 1999 Thiessen played in another Grand Final for Norwood. He was again named on a wing, as Norwood took on Port Adelaide, but unfortunately the Redlegs were narrowly defeated.
Delisted by the Crows at the end of 2000, he decided to travel the following year. He returned to the Parade in 2002, played 20 games and had a solid season under new coach, Garry McIntosh.
In 2003 he reached his 100 game milestone, and was third in the Club Champion award.
Thiessen was an Assistant Reserves Coach for Norwood, in 2010-2011.
His father Tony, played a total of 24 VFL games for Carlton, Melbourne and North Melbourne.
R Cialini Sept 2016