A half back, Comber, County Down born Sam Patton played junior football in Comber before signing for Belfast Distillery, and he made his Irish League debut for Distillery in May 1924. After five Distillery seasons, playing mainly as an inside forward, he came to Dundalk for the 1928-29 year and filled the centre half spot for the season. Following a poor start to the following year, Sam was moved to centre forward and immediately scored a hat trick, stayed upfront for the rest of the year, finishing the year with 15 goals, and just one goal behind leading marksman Jack Aitken.
At the end of the season he returned to Distillery and was re-signed by Dundalk in time to play in the last match of the 1930-31 year against FAI Cup conquerors Shamrock Rovers in the drawn President’s Cup Final. In the third match of the new season he played a major part, at right half, in the club’s first trophy success when Shamrock Rovers were defeated 7-3 in the replayed President’s Cup. “Two-footed, a magnificent header of the ball, a terror for work, worth two men when the team looks like been beaten” was the Dundalk Democrat’s pen picture of Sam, now settled at left half, after the 1932-33 Irish League Championship win, when Dundalk became the first provincial winners of the League Pennant. He scored 41 goals in 184 appearances for Dundalk and while with Dundalk he was twice capped for the League of Ireland in 1932 against the Welsh League.
At the end of the 1933-34 season he made his third return to Distillery and within weeks of the new season opening he represented The Irish League in a 6-1 defeat to The Football League at The Oval, Belfast, in September 1934. He was selected as reserve to the Irish team for the October 1937 clash with England.
For his testimonial in May 1938 Dundalk played Distillery at Grosvenor Park, Belfast and Patton then moved to Ards as player-manager. After one season with Ards he joined Coleraine for the 1939-40 season, returning to Ards for the 1940-41 season. Unfortunately after defeating Glentoran Seconds in the Steel and Sons Cup it transpired that Sam’s Inter-League cap in 1934 made him ineligible to play in this competition and after Ards were expelled from the competition he resigned. He spent the War years in Canada with the RAF as a physical instructor, where he was reported as ‘winning many trophies’. On his return in 1946 he was appointed secretary-manager of Coleraine and was still turning out for first team duty in the 1946-47 season, more than 20 years after he had made his Irish League debut with Distillery. In total he played over 500 games in his career.