Little Hulton, Salford born left half Tommy Bleakley began his football career with Farnsworth League side Clegg’s Lane in 1909 before joining Walkden Central in 1913. He was on the books at local club Bolton Wanderers as an amateur in 1914-15 without making a first team appearance for them before peacetime football was halted by the onset of the First World War, and during the War he played Army football. Having had a trial at Hull City in October 1918, making his Tigers debut against Huddersfield Town in a wartime league game the same month, he formally joined the Second Division club in May 1919 making his Football League debut at Birmingham in August 1919, soon establishing himself as a first team regular. In February 1921 he played for Hull in a significant Cup shock as they beat Burnley 3-0 at Anlaby Road, Burnley were very much the best team in England at the time, having been League runners up the previous season they were on their way to the League Championship two months thereafter.
His career at Hull City spanned eleven seasons, and during that time he formed the mainstay of The Tigers’ half back line, with his unostentatious yet always industrious and highly effective style, in short a one club stalwart and a model of consistency. He was an ever present for them in their 1924-25 campaign. Towards the end of his career he played in the 1930 FA Cup semi final replay when eventual winners Arsenal narrowly beat Hull City 1-0 at Villa Park. He scored 7 goals in 389 League and FA Cup games for The Tigers (9 goals in 418 appearances in all competitions), always playing in the Second Division, before retiring from professional football, joining non league Goole Town in 1930 aged 37. He subsequently assisted Bridlington Town and Wombwell before finally hanging up his boots.
NB in the photograph Bleakley tosses the coin with Stoke captain Tom Brittleton at The Victoria Ground on 18th April 1921. Hull City won the match 3-1.