Northwich, Cheshire born left half Tom Manley played junior football for Brunner Mond in 1927 and Norley United in 1928 before joining Northwich Victoria in 1929. He signed for Second Division Manchester United as an amateur in September 1930 after being discovered by legendary scout Louis Rocca, signing professional in May 1931, and he made his Football League debut against Millwall at Old Trafford on 5th December 1931.
At United he played various outfield positions, from full back to forward, scoring 15 goals as United won the Second Division Championship in 1935-36, when mainly playing outside left, including 4 goals in a 7-2 thumping of Port Vale at Old Trafford in February 1936. Although they were relegated the following season they were again promoted in 1938 as Second Division runners up.
During an eight season United career he scored 41 goals in 195 appearances before moving to Brentford in July 1939 “for a substantial fee”, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. During the War, Manley’s duties with the RAF meant that he appeared sparingly for the club, he appeared 23 times for Brentford and also several times as a guest player for Manchester United.
After the Football League resumed in 1946, he continued playing for Brentford, and became their club captain. His last game for Brentford was at Preston North End on 30th September 1951, just short of his 39th birthday, having scored 7 times in 125 appearances for The Bees, a figure that would have been far higher but for the War. He retired from professional football in May 1952 and went on to briefly manage hometown club Northwich Victoria between March and October 1954. Manley was awarded a joint testimonial by Brentford with Ted Gaskell versus a Tommy Lawton XI in April 1954.