Edinburgh born outside left Tommy Pearson played for Murrayfield Amateurs from 1931, and had a trial for Heart of Midlothian, but signed professional terms with First Division Newcastle United in March 1933. He made his Football League debut at Arsenal that November, scoring once in 4 appearances in his debut season, which ended in relegation for Newcastle, before establishing himself in the first team from December 1934. He played both sides of the Second World War for Newcastle, during which Pearson made a guest appearance for England during a wartime international against Scotland in Newcastle when outside left Eric Brook was injured before the game, having been at the match as a spectator. He also played as a wartime guest for Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool. He was a member of the Blackpool team that lost over 2 legs in the 1944 Regional Cup Final to Aston Villa.
He was capped twice by Scotland in 1947 (giving him the unusual distinction of having played for both England and Scotland), playing first in a 1-1 draw that April with England at Wembley Stadium, and making a further appearance a month later in a 2-1 defeat to Belgium at The Heysel Stadium in Brussels. He also later represented The Scottish League while at Aberdeen, playing in a 2-0 win over The League of Ireland at Dalymount Park, Dublin in April 1948.
Having scored 54 goals in 230 appearances for The Magpies, in February 1948 he was signed by Aberdeen for £4,000, and although already aged 35 he quickly became a crowd favourite, renowned particularly for his ‘double shuffle’, which baffled opposing players and spectators alike. Having scored 16 goals in 115 appearances, Pearson retired at the age of 40 in 1953, and took up a career as a sports writer, often covering Aberdeen for the Scottish Daily Mail.
In November 1959, Pearson was appointed manager of Aberdeen, in spite of his lack of coaching or managerial experience, and the six years he had spent outside the game, albeit as an observer. Unusually, his predecessor, Davie Shaw stayed on at the club in his former capacity as coach. Pearson’s time in office coincided with the departure or retirement of a number of key players, and long-term injuries to others, alleviated only briefly by the emergence of Charlie Cooke, soon on his way to Chelsea. There were a sequence of Scottish Cup exits to lower league teams, and in spite of a Summer Cup final, ultimately lost to Hibs in 1964, Pearson’s reign ended with his resignation on 13th February 1965.