Leicester born right back Tommy Clay joined Second Division Leicester Fosse in April 1911 from junior club Leicester Belvoir, with whom he had started his football career a year earlier, and made his Football League debut against Bradford Park Avenue on November 11th that year. Clay came to the attention of First Division Tottenham Hotspur during an FA Cup tie between the two sides in January 1914. Together with team mate Harry Sparrow he was immediately signed by Spurs following the match having played 69 games for The Fossils, and he was an ever present during their 1914-15 relegation season, the final season of League football before it was suspended due to the onset of the First World War.
Clay played for Spurs throughout the War participating in 107 wartime matches. When peacetime football returned, he captained the side when Spurs won the Second Division Championship in 1920. He played in successive FA Charity Shield matches, being on the losing side to West Bromwich Albion in May 1920 and the winning side a year later when Tottenham beat Burnley, both matches being held at White Hart Lane. In March 1921 he kept a clean sheet as stand-in goalkeeper in a 1-0 victory over Sunderland. Later the same year, although no longer captain, he played in their 1921 FA Cup Final triumph over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge.
He won his first of four Engand caps in a 2-1 defeat against Wales at Highbury on 15th March 1920 and was awarded the last in a 1-0 defeat against Scotland at Villa Park on 8th April 1922. He also made a single appearance for The Football League in a 5-1 victory over The Irish League at Burnden Park in October 1922.
Clay was part of Tottenham’s 1922 FA Cup semi final team that lost by the odd goal in three to Preston North End at Hillsborough, scoring 8 penalties in 37 League appearances that season as Spurs also finished runners up in the League Championship. He continued to play for Tottenham until April 1929, making 353 appearances and scoring 24 goals, all from the penalty spot, until May 1929 when he became player-coach at Tottenham’s feeder club Northfleet, remaining in the role until 1931. He later coached Den Haag in The Netherlands from 1937 to 1939.
NB in the photograph he stands on the right with Tottenham team mates, goalkeeper Bill Jacques (left) and winger Fanny Walden (centre).