The son of Sunderland and England’s George Holley, Sunderland born right or centre half Tom Holley started on the books of his father’s alma mater Sunderland as an amateur during 1931-32 but never played a game for them before signing for Third Division (North) Barnsley in September 1932, making his Football League debut in November 1933 at Barrow in a season in which they won the Championship, albeit Holley made only 5 appearances during the campaign. In the Second Division, he became a regular from October 1934, and played two seasons at Oakwell for The Tykes before, after 4 goals in 80 games for The Tykes, he signed for Leeds United for £3,750 in July 1936.
At Leeds he became Club Captain, playing for three seasons either side of the Second World War and guesting for Huddersfield Town, Fulham, Aldershot and York City during the War as well as playing over 100 wartime matches for Leeds, as well as seeing active service in India. He made 169 peacetime appearances for Leeds United, scoring once in a defeat at West Ham United on Christmas Day 1948, and retired in the summer of 1949, after which he became a well known football reporter for The Yorkshire Evening Post and The Sunday People. He was succeeded at centre half at Leeds by a certain John Charles!