A talented forward, nicknamed the “Prince of Dribblers”, inside left Tom Fitchie was born in Edinburgh and played football as an amateur (having had too many business commitments as a travelling sports goods salesman with Jacques & Co to commit to the game professionally) throughout his career. He appears to have travelled a lot, and his career was rather eclectic as a result; he played for a variety of clubs, and the exact dates of some of his tenures are somewhat in doubt.
Having started out at West Norwood in 1898, Fitchie joined Second Division Woolwich Arsenal when he was 19, in November 1901. He made his Football League debut against Gainsborough Trinity on 8th February 1902, and scored twice as Woolwich Arsenal ran out 5-0 winners. However, being unable to fully commit to the team, he was only in the Woolwich Arsenal side intermittently, and often guested for other London sides, including London Caledonians in 1903, Southern League Fulham in 1904, and even (earlier) Southern League Tottenham Hotspur in 1901 – although as they were not at this time Arsenal’s deadly local rivals, this would have raised few eyebrows at the time.
He also played for famous Glasgow amateur club Queen’s Park, making his debut at Aberdeen in January 1905 and scoring 27 goals in 51 Scottish League and Cup matches through to April 1908. Fitchie’s main club, however, was Woolwich Arsenal, and he mostly played for them while he was in London. It wasn’t until the 1904-05 season that he had any sort of decent run in the side, though, scoring six goals in nine League games that season, Arsenal’s first in the First Division.
Fitchie’s ability was such that he was called up to play for Scotland, against Wales on 6th March, 1905, which Scotland lost 3-1. In all he won four caps for his country, scoring one goal – the only goal of the game against Ireland on St Patrick’s Day 1906. He won his last cap in March 1907. He was still a regular for Woolwich Arsenal, scoring nine League goals in 1905-06 and reaching the FA Cup semi-final the same season, with Fitchie playing as Arsenal lost 2-0 to Newcastle United at The Victoria Ground, Stoke.
Fitchie left Arsenal in mid-1906 back to his native Scotland, and played for Queen’s Park for two years. He also spent some time in Southern England during this period, occasionally appearing for Southern League clubs Norwich City in 1906 and Brighton & Hove Albion in 1907. He returned to Woolwich Arsenal in September 1908, and he played another full season (1908-09) there; he scored ten goals (nine in the League, one in the Cup) in twenty-one games, making him Arsenal’s top scorer; that season they finished sixth in the First Division, which would remain their highest-finishing position until 1925-26. In all, he played 63 times for Arsenal and scored 30 goals.
After leaving Arsenal, Fitchie joined a touring team known as The Pilgrims, a side composed of British players that toured the United States in October and November 1909. After returning to England, Fitchie joined Glossop North End in May 1909 and scored 9 goals in 43 appearances for them appearing last in January 1912 in an FA Cup tie against Leeds City, and he then joined (by now Second Division) Fulham for a second spell in October 1912, scoring twice in 8 appearances for The Cottagers. He continued to play for The Pilgrims and London Caledonians until the First World War, during which Fitchie served as a sergeant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, as a result of which he contracted a lung disorder from which he eventually died in 1947.
NB although published in 1912 while Fitchie was at Glossop it is clearly the 1905 image of Fitchie in an Arsenal shirt in the image.