Dublin born Ned Brooks, an inside or centre-forward, commenced his career with Bohemians in 1914/15 when Dublin teams still competed on an all-Ireland basis. He bagged a hat-trick against Glenavon in a City Cup match on 3rd April 1915. In the 1915-16 Irish Cup Brooks managed goals in 4-0 and 3-0 wins over St James’ Gate and Shelbourne respectively and in the 4-2 semi-final defeat by Glentoran. Nearing the end of the war period he found himself posted to the Belfast-area where he signed professional forms for Linfield. He made his Blues debut on the 27th April 1918 in the semi-final of the Belfast Charity Cup in a 1-0 win over Belfast United. He was unavailable for the Final but assisted Linfield to runners-up spot behind Belfast Celtic in the Irish League the following season. Between late-December 1918 and 4th January 1919 he was once again unable to play for Linfield, but prior to this he appeared for an Irish War team against an English War team in October 1918.
For the 1919-20 season Brooks moved back to Dublin to sign for Shelbourne. He made 14 appearances for the Shels, scoring nine goals including three in an Irish League match against Distillery. In November 1919 he played for the Irish League against the Scottish League in a 2-0 defeat at Windsor Park. The following spring he was awarded a full international cap as Ireland suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Scotland at Parkhead. This proved to be his only cap, and consequently is the most recent instance of a Shelbourne player being awarded representative honours by the Irish FA. That same month he was awarded an Irish Cup winner’s medal as part of the Shelbourne team that took the trophy by default – Glentoran and Belfast Celtic both having been dismissed from the competition following their semi-final match.
Brooks then moved to England and signed for Second Division Stockport County, making his Football League debut at Barnsley in October 1920, however in two seasons he made only 13 appearances before returning to Ireland to complete his career in the newly formed League of Ireland with spells at Bohemians (1922), Athlone Town (1923) and Brideville (1928). He was leading goalscorer for his club most seasons in the League of Ireland with a total of 19 goals for Bohemians, 24 with Athlone and 20 with Brideville. On 14th June 1924 he appeared for an Irish Free State XI, scoring a hattrick against the USA in a post-Olympic Games friendly in what is now considered the FAI’s first “full” home international match. In March 1926 he was due to travel with the Free State squad for a match in Italy. He was unable to take the field as a week before the match his seven year-old son was tragically knocked down by a car and died in hospital. A year later he appeared for the League of Ireland against the Welsh League.