Belfast born inside right Tommy “Tucker” Croft was an integral part of the Queen’s Island team who joined, then took the Irish League by storm in the early 1920’s. Although an unrelated team of the same name had won the second ever Irish Cup competition, the Queen’s Island that joined the Irish League in 1921, replacing the Southern Irish clubs that had resigned, was a much younger side.
An inside right from East Belfast, Croft played with a number of teams in that area, including Dundela before the First World War. At the time he was still in the Army and during leave he also took the opportunity to play with Belfast United between 1914-15 and 1918-19. In 1918-19 he made five appearances for Glentoran, scored his first Glens goal against Cliftonville in a 3-0 Charity Cup semi-final win and played in the 1-0 Final defeat by Linfield. Having signed professional terms on 31st May 1919, Croft established himself in the first team for much of the 1919-20 season he bagged a hat-trick in a 7-0 City Cup win over Bohemians. After ten goals in 39 games for Glentoran, Croft signed for Queen’s Island on the 6th November 1920.
Queen’s Island, bolstered by a selection of players enticed by jobs in the shipyard, including Croft, finished as runners-up in only their second season in senior football, and in their third won the Irish League and Cup double, plus the Co. Antrim Shield and City Cup. He made his Ireland debut in a 2-1 defeat in Norway in May 1922, the first of 3 caps for his country. A regular among the goals for Queens, Croft then managed four in a Charity Cup game against Brantwood in May 1923.
Described as “gritty and tenacious