The Encylopedia of British Football

Tom Smalley

Thomas (Tom) Smalley was born in Kinsley, a district of Fitzwilliam, on 13th January 1912. He worked as a coalminer. A defender, he played for South Kirkby Colliery, before Major Frank Buckley, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, signed him in 1931.

Over the next few years Frank Buckley established a team that included Smalley, Dai Richards, Reg Hollingsworth, Billy Barraclough, Billy Hartill, Stan Cullis, Tom Galley and Charlie Phillips. This team won the Second Division championship in the 1931-32 season.

The championship winning team that season included only one player that had not been signed by Frank Buckley. The Wolverhampton Express and Star report on the success included the following tribute: "By his splendid work with the Wolves he has built up a reputation as a football manager second to none in the country... At the Molineux Ground he has proved himself a splendid judge of a player. His ability to find a young talent is unequalled and despite the handicaps with which he is faced when joining the club he has discovered a whole team, which has taken Wolves into the highest flight."

Wolves struggled in the First Division but Smalley remained in good form and he won his first international cap for England against Wales on 17th October 1936. The team that day included Cliff Bastin, Sammy Crooks, George Holdcroft, Bert Sproston, Freddie Steele and Ray Westwood.

In 1938 Smalley was sold to Norwich City. While at Wolves he had scored 11 goals in 179 games. After the Second World War Smalley also played for Northampton Town (1946-1950).

Tom Smalley died in 1984.