Glasgow born centre half Tommy McAteer started his football career with junior sides Kilsyth Wanderers in 1896 and Smithston Hibernian in 1897 before moving south to join First Division Bolton Wanderers in 1898, making his Football League debut at Sheffield Wednesday in January 1899. Despite 3 goals in his 8 appearances Bolton were relegated, but the following season he scored 5 times as they were promoted as Second Division runners up. However he lost his place in the Bolton team in 1901 and moved to Southern League West Ham United in the close season of 1902 after 10 goals in 62 appearances.
He made 13 appearances for The Irons before joining Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1903 close season, and after a single season at The Goldstone returned to Scotland in 1904 with Dundee. After 2 seasons at Dens Park he joined Carlisle United in 1906 from where he joined Clyde in 1907. He signed for Celtic in May 1910 and made his debut at right back in a 3-0 home League victory over Airdrie on August 17th 1910. He picked up a Scottish Cup winners medal in 1911, hitting Celtic’s second goal in a 2-0 victory over Hamilton Academical. He left Celtic in June 1912 after 5 goals in 28 appearances and played for Wishaw Thistle (briefly), Albion Rovers, Abercorn in 1913, Broxburn United in 1914 and army football with The Cameron Highlanders in 1915.