Tom Smalley

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Tom Smalley
Personal information
Full name Thomas Smalley
Date of birth (1912-01-13)13 January 1912
Place of birth Kinsley, West Yorkshire, England
Date of death 1 April 1984(1984-04-01) (aged 72)
Place of death Wolverhampton, England
Playing position Right-half
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
?–1931 South Kirkby
1931–1938 Wolverhampton Wanderers[1] 179 (11)
1938–1945 Norwich City[1] 42 (1)
1945–1951 Northampton Town[2] 200 (2)
1951–19?? Lower Gornal Athletic
Total 421 (14)
National team
1936 England 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Thomas "Tom" Smalley (13 January 1912 – 1 April 1984) was an English professional footballer who played as a half-back for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich City before the Second World War and for Northampton Town in the post-war period, making a total of over 420 appearances for the three clubs. He also made one appearance for England in 1936.

Football career[edit]

Smalley was born at Kinsley, West Yorkshire and after school he worked for the nearby South Kirkby Colliery. Whilst playing for South Kirkby,[3] he was spotted by a scout from Wolverhampton Wanderers who signed him in May 1931.[4] Whilst at South Kirkby he was also occasionally called upon to play for Barnsley reserves, but ultimately Wolves beat Barnsley to his registration.[5] As a schoolboy he also represented the Yorkshire County team.[5] In his final year at South Kirkby he was prolific, scoring at least 50 goals in the season.[5]

At the end of his first season with the Molineux club, Wolves won the Second Division title to return to the First Division after an absence of 26 years. Smalley had a "never-say-die" attitude[4] which brought him to the attention of the England selectors who picked him to play at right-half for the Home Championship against Wales at Ninian Park, Cardiff on 17 October 1936. England lost the match 2–1,[6] with Wales going on to claim the championship; Smalley was replaced in the next international, against Ireland, by Everton's Cliff Britton[7] and never played international football again.

Smalley helped Wolves reach the runners-up position in the First Division in 1937–38 before being sold to Norwich City for £4,500 in August 1938.[4][8] In his seven years at Wolves, Smalley made nearly 200 first-team appearances in all competitions.[4]

On joining Norwich, Smalley was appointed team captain and was ever-present during the 1938–39 season; Smalley's experience, however, was not able to prevent Norwich finishing in the penultimate position in the table and they were relegated to the Third Division South. Smalley played in the first three matches of the 1939–40 season before the League was abandoned following the outbreak of the Second World War.[8]

Smalley remained at the Carrow Road club throughout the war but was transferred in October 1945 to fellow Third Division South club, Northampton Town[4] where he "formed a formidable partnership with Bill Barron as the last outfield line of defence".[9] He remained with "the Cobblers" until 1951 when, in his fortieth year, he dropped out of League football.[4]

He then had a spell as player-coach at Lower Gornal Athletic before retiring completely.[4]


Wolverhampton Wanderers


  1. ^ a b Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: Tony Brown. p. 240. ISBN 1-899468-67-6. 
  2. ^ Hugman, Barry (1981). Football League Players Records (1946–1981). Aylesbury: Rothmans Publications. p. 310. ISBN 0-907574-08-4. 
  3. ^ "South Kirkby Colliery (Almost) Complete History". Matthew Thomas. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Betts, Graham (2006). England: Player by player. Green Umbrella Publishing. p. 220. ISBN 1-905009-63-1. 
  5. ^ a b c "Tom Smalley's New Club". Sheffield Independent. 7 May 1931. p. 10. 
  6. ^ "Wales 2 England 1". 17 October 1936. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "England 3 Ireland 1". 18 November 1936. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Stars of the Past – Tom Smalley". "Sing Up The River End!". 21 June 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Bill Barron". In Memoriam. Northampton Town FC. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tim Coleman
Norwich City Captain
Succeeded by
Jack Taylor