Small Heath, Birmingham born outside left Tommy Hands began his football career with Small Heath Unity in 1888 before signing for Small Heath (later Birmingham City), then playing in the Football Alliance, in December 1890. The strength of Hands’s game lay in his speed. He made his Football League debut in Small Heath’s first Football League match, a 5-1 win over Burslem Port Vale in September 1892, in their inaugural League season, in which they became the first winners of the Second Division Championship. He was part of a forward line who all reached double figures of goals scored, with Hands scoring 12 goals, however they missed out on promotion losing to Newton Heath in the Test Matches.
He also contributed to their runners-up spot and promotion to the First Division the following year when he was an ever present in the team, scoring 14 goals, and he played for a further two years in the top flight. At the end of the 1895-96 season, he walked out of the club over a dispute about money after their relegation from the First Division and never played League football again, joining non league King’s Heath, where he played until 1900. He had scored 32 goals in 113 League and Cup appearances during Small Heath’s League era, in addition to 8 goals in 21 appearances during their earlier Football Alliance days.