Fenwick, East Ayrshire born centre half Tom Smith played in junior football for Cumnock Juveniles in 1924, Sinclair Celtic in 1025 and Cumnock Townhead Thistle in 1926 before signing for Kilmarnock in 1927. After a loan spell at Galston in 1928 he returned to Kilmarnock and established himself as a key part of their first eleven. Smith was part of the Killie team that got to the 1932 Scottish Cup Final, losing 3-0 to Rangers, and he won international recognition two years later when he played in the Home Championship match against England at Wembley in April 1934. Smith played for Scotland in a tour of the United States and Canada in 1935, but none of the tour matches counted as full internationals.
A good performance for The Scottish League in a 2-0 defeat to The Football League at Goodison Park in October 1936 attracted the interest of Preston North End, and Smith agreed to sign for the Lancashire club soon afterwards, making his Football League debut against Portsmouth that December. Smith initially had to compete for his position with Billy Tremelling, and he didn’t play in the 1937 FA Cup Final defeat by Sunderland, making only 9 appearances in his debut season. Smith played more regularly during the following season being appointed club captain, and Preston finished third in the First Division. Preston also had a significant cup run, culminating in their 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town in the 1938 FA Cup Final. To cap a highly successful year, Smith made his second (and last) appearance for Scotland, in a 1-0 victory against England at Wembley in April 1938. Smith was one of five Preston players to play for Scotland in that match.
The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 effectively curtailed Smith’s playing career after exactly 50 appearances for Preston. Smith continued to play for the club during the War, and also played in one wartime international against England. He returned to Kilmarnock in 1945 to serve as their manager.