Kettering, Northamptonshire born inside right John “Tim” Coleman joined Kettering Town from Kettering St Mary’s in 1900 and made his debut in senior football in an FA Cup tie at Burton Swifts that December which Kettering won 2-1. The following year he moved to Southern League Northampton Town and had a single season with The Cobblers before joining Second Division Arsenal in May 1902 and made this début against Preston North End on 6th September 1902. In his first season with the club he became the top scorer with 17 goals in 30 matches, as Arsenal just missed out on promotion, which included a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Burnley. The following season he scored 23 goals in 28 games, Tommy Shanks top scored with 25 and Arsenal won promotion to the First Division for the first time finishing as Second Division runners up.
The first season in the First Division was tough for the club and Coleman only got five goals but in 1905-06 he got 15 in 34 games. He also played in the FA Cup semi final as Arsenal lost 2-0 to Newcastle United at The Victoria Ground, Stoke, and won his first and only cap for England against Ireland in a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park on 16th February 1907 after having twice been a reserve in March and April 1906. He also made three appearances for The Football League. He was back in the FA Cup semi final a year later but Arsenal again lost, this time 3-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at St Andrews.
Everton then bid £700 for Tim in February 1908, and Arsenal sold him after 84 goals in 196 games for The Gunners as the decline in the club’s finances began to hit home. He then spent two and a half seasons at Goodison Park scoring 30 goals in 71 appearances for The Toffees. It was during this time that the Football League and FA attempted to outlaw trade unionism in football, but Tim Coleman was one of the stalwarts of the union along with a number of other players, and ultimately the authorities backed off.
After Everton Coleman went to Sunderland in May 1910 staying at Roker Park for a single season in 1910-11 and was the club’s top scorer, scoring 21 goals in 33 games, then signed for Second Division club Fulham in July 1911, playing three seasons at Craven Cottage scoring 48 goals in 100 games, which included hat-tricks in back to back matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stockport County in February and March 1913, and finally he signed for Nottingham Forest in July 1914, playing for them in the final peacetime 1914-15 season before the onset of the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football, where he scored 16 times in 40 appearances. He retired when football stopped at the end of the 1914-15 season.
He served as a private in The 17th Service Battalion of The Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, better known as The Footballers’ Battalion, and was reported as killed in action in three separate reports during the War on 29th December 1915, but it was later reported on 1st January 1916 that he was alive and well. After the War he played non-league for Tunbridge Wells Rangers in 1920 and Maidstone United in 1921. He retired as a player in 1921 and then worked as a coach and manager for Maidstone United.