Bury, Lancashire born outside right Sam Kirkman began his football career with St Stephen’s of Elton, playing for Black Lane St Andrew’s in 1906 and Ramsbottom in 1907 before signing for North Eastern League club Carlisle United in 19o8, where he clearly impressed during his single season with The Cumbrians, being signed by First Division club Sheffield Wednesday in May 1909. He made his Football League debut against Bury that September and soon established himself as a fixture in The Owls’ first eleven, making more than 30 appearances in each of their next four seasons.
In 1911-12 and 1912-13 he got into double figures both seasons with his goalscoring, albeit far behind top scorer David McLean both seasons, helping Sheffield Wednesday to finish third in the League Championship in the latter season. He remained a regular until the onset of the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football in May 1915, during which he served in the Royal Army Service Corps. He returned to Hillsborough after the conflict and played 6 more matches in the first peacetime season of 1919-20, his last match being a win over Oldham Athletic in May 1920, by when he had scored 40 goals in 202 appearances for The Owls.
Released after Wednesday’s relegation, he briefly joined Southern League club Mid Rhondda in the summer of 1920 but soon returned to Football League action, joining hometown Second Division club Bury in September 1920, although he only played once for The Shakers in a 1-1 draw at Hull City in March 1921. He returned to Yorkshire to play for Midland League club Wombwell in 1922, his final club before his eventual retirement.