Kilbirnie, Ayrshire born centre half Tom Clifford began his football career with Annbank in 1895 from where he made his first foray into English football when he joined Second Division Newton Heath (now Manchester United) in December 1896. But he returned to Scotland to join Ayr in August 1897 without having made an appearance for The Heathens. He played in 10 Second Division matches for Ayr, scoring four goals. He returned to England with Glossop in May 1898, making his Football League debut against Blackpool the same September, where he made 39 appearances in two seasons, scoring once in a 2-1 win at Burton Swifts in April 1899.
He continued to be a regular in The Hillmen’s 1899-1900 campaign making 43 appearances but when they failed in their bid for re-election he joined Southern League Luton Town in the 1900 close season, before returning to Scotland to join Glasgow Celtic in 1901. He moved on to Beith in 1903 and to Motherwell in July 1904, where he scored once in 16 appearances for The Steelmen in 1904-05 before returning to England to join First Division Nottingham Forest. However he failed to break into Forest’s first eleven and retired in 1906.
Clifford served as a private in The Royal Scots Fusiliers during the First World War and was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme on 19th January 1917 aged 41. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
NB although unconfirmed, he holds an uncanny similarity to Bolton Wanderers player Bob Clifford, also from Ayrshire, and it’s likely they were brothers.