Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire born inside left or centre forward Tommy Sale began his football career with Stoke St Peter’s in 1928 from where he joined hometown Second Division club Stoke City, under the management of Tom Maher, in August 1929, turning professional in May 1930, making his Football League debut at Bradford City on Christmas Day 1930. By 1932-33, Sale had established himself as a prominent member of the team playing chiefly inside left, helping Stoke win the Second Division Championship with 11 goals in 21 League appearances. In the following two seasons, Sale was the club’s top scorer playing mainly centre forward. He scored 17 times in the 1933-34 season, in which Stoke finished 12th in the First Division, In the subsequent season, 1934-35, Sale scored 24 goals including a hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur in April 1935, helping Stoke to a 10th-place finish.
Bob McGrory, Mather’s successor as Stoke manager, sold Sale to Blackburn Rovers in March 1936, for a fee of £6,000 This surprised supporters at the time, however McGory had confidence in Freddie Steele, who he had earmarked as a potential replacement for Sale. Despite 4 goals in 8 games Blackburn were relegated from the First Division at the end of the season, finishing bottom of the table. Sale spent two years at Blackburn scoring 26 goals in 68 appearances.
McGrory then re-signed Sale for Stoke in March 1938, initially as cover for Freddie Steele, who was injured at the time. Following his return, Sale scored five goals in his first three games back including a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers, as he set about regaining his place in the team. He re-established his place in the side, as he scored 18 further goals in the remainder of the 1938-39 season. The 1939-40 season was suspended due to the outbreak of the Second World War, however Sale continued his goalscoring exploits with 56 goals (in all competitions) in 1941-42 and then 64 goals over the course of two seasons: 1943-44 and 1944-45. In the latter of these two seasons, Sale netted six times in an 8-0 win over Walsall.
Despite most of his goals coming from open play, Sale was a penalty specialist; it is reported Sale only missed one penalty in his entire professional career. Sale played once more in the 1946 FA Cup and his last appearance for Stoke came on 8th April 1946, at the age of 35, in a War League game against Sheffield United at the Victoria Ground. Following his departure from Stoke, where he scored 106 goals in 225 appearances across his two spells, excluding wartime matches, Sale had spells at Northwich Victoria in 1947 and Hednesford Town in 1948 before announcing his retirement in 1949, at the age of 39.