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 in their first eleven before signing for Third Division (North) club Barnsley in September 1932, where his father was by now the trainer, making his Football League debut at Barrow in November 1933 in a season in which they won the divisional Championship, albeit Holley made only 5 appearances during the campaign. In the Second Division Holley became a regular from October 1934, and it was said of him that he “shows much of his father’s talent and natural instinct for the game”. He played two seasons at Oakwell 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, which severely interrupted his career, guesting for Huddersfield Town, Fulham, Aldershot and York City during the War as well as playing over 100 wartime matches for Leeds, in addition to 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!