Birmingham born centre forward Tommy Roberts (sometimes known as Billy Roberts as his first name was William) had been on Leicester City’s books as a 16 year old prior to World War One without making the first team and after the conflict had ended he signed for Preston North End in May 1919. He made his Preston debut in September 1919 against Blackburn Rovers and never scored less than 25 goals a season over the next 5 seasons. He also played for Preston in their losing 1922 FA Cup Final team as they were defeated by Huddersfield Town in the last FA Cup Final played at Stamford Bridge before its move to Wembley the next year where it would stay for the rest of the century.
While at Preston he won 2 caps for England making his debut against Belgium in Antwerp in November 1923 and winning his second cap against Wales at Ewood Park in March 1924, scoring in both games. He also played twice for The Football League in representative matches. After scoring 136 goals in 219 games he joined Burnley in October 1924 for £4,600, where he spent 2 years and scored 29 goals in 50 games but suffered a broken pelvis in a match against Tottenham in February 1925. He subsequently rejoined Preston in July 1926 for £1,500 scoring 30 goals in his first season back at Deepdale and totalling 43 goals in 58 further appearances but had injury problems such as a fractured shoulder in a car accident in 1927. After 179 goals in 277 appearances across his two spells with Preston, he briefly joined Tottenham Hotspur in May 1928 for a £1,000 transfer fee and he scored twice on his debut against Oldham that August playing 4 games in total, but injury finished his professional career later that season, and he moved into non league football with Chorley in 1930, having also played for Dick Kerr’s XI in 1929.