Belfast born left back Tommy Watson began his football career with Glenarm and had won junior caps for Ireland before joining Crusaders, then a force in intermediate football, in the early 1920’s. The Crues had been a happy hunting ground for First Division Cardiff City in the years preceding Watson’s signing in August 1925, Jimmy Nelson (a Scot) and Tom Sloan having made the same move. Watson made his Football League debut against West Ham United in September 1925 and soon established himself as a regular performer in the Cardiff City team. That trio, joined by two further Irishmen, Tom Farquharson and Sam Irving, made history when The Bluebirds defeated Arsenal in the 1927 FA Cup Final, so taking the Cup out of England for the first and to date only time. Two weeks after beating Arsenal they completed a unique double by winning the Welsh Cup beating Rhyl 2-0 in that Final.
Watson was capped just once by Ireland in an Irish team, also featuring Irving and Sloan, that was defeated 4-0 by Scotland at Ibrox in February 1926. He was called into a team weakened by the withdrawal of a number of players. The Irish started the match, played in heavy rain, brightly before being easily overwhelmed by a superior Scottish eleven. It was recorded that the Irish back line bore the brunt of the Scots’ attacks with “a fair measure of success”, despite the scoreline.
Having displaced Scottish international captain Jimmy Blair from the left-back slot early in his Cardiff career, Watson’s first team role was comparatively short lived. He was blighted by cartilage problems and after undergoing surgery during the 1928-29 season was unable to regain his first team place. He returned to Ireland to join Linfield in 1929 after 96 appearances for Cardiff City, again teaming up with Sloan, and the pair completed their “set” of three different cup medals when Linfield defeated Ballymena in the 1930 Irish Cup Final, in a season that also saw Linfield finish as Irish League Champions but Watson was forced to retire soon afterwards.