Kilnhurst, Rotherham, Yorkshire born goalkeeper Tommy Thorpe began his football career playing for Rawmarsh Athletic in 1900 and Kilnhurst before moving to Doncaster Rovers when they were voted into the Second Division of the Football League for the 1904-05 season. He made his Football League debut in their inaugural League fixture against Lincoln City in September 1904 and made 32 appearances for the club, however at the end of the season they lost their League status and he joined Second Division Barnsley, where he missed only two games in the 1905-06 season. He remained Barnsley’s principal goalkeeper for a further three seasons, before joining Southern League Northampton Town after 117 appearances. Remarkably he became one of the first goalkeepers to score in a match when he took a penalty in a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham in November 1908.
At Northampton he was part of their 1910-11 team that finished as runners up in the Southern League and played both sides of the War for The Cobblers, and when Northampton Town joined the newly formed Third Division (South) in 1920, he played in their inaugural League fixture at Grimsby Town in August that year, making 22 appearances for The Cobblers in addition to the hundreds made in the Southern League, where he is known to have made 295 appearances between 1909 and 1914, not including his post war appearances.
He then returned to Barnsley in the summer of 1921 as back up to Arthur Cooper, and played a further 16 times during the 1921-22 season, creating the record, which still holds for being Barnsley’s oldest player at 40 years 310 days when he made his final appearance in a 1-0 defeat at Stoke on 25th March 1922.
As a cricketer Thorpe made three first-class appearances for Northamptonshire in the 1913 County Championship against Essex, Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. He had no success in these matches, scoring just 11 runs at an average of 3.66, with a high score of 6. However, Northamptonshire won two of these matches, and drew the match against Yorkshire during which he faced another ex-Doncaster Rovers player, Alonzo Drake.