Alcester, Warwickshire born goalkeeper Tom Wilkes played amateur football with Redditch Town from 1891 before joining First Division Aston Villa in 1894, making his Football League debut in the derby against Small Heath that September. In his first season he established himself in the first eleven with 20 appearances and played in 5 FA Cup ties culminating in his keeping goal in the 1895 FA Cup Final, which Villa won courtesy of a first minute Bob Chatt goal against West Bromwich Albion at The Crystal Palace. Further success followed in 1895-96 as Wilkes the only missed once match of Villa’s League Championship winning season. However he lost his place to Billy George in September 1896 although he played in their FA Cup ties, culminating with another winner’s medal in the 1897 FA Cup Final after a 3-2 Double sealing victory over Everton at The Crystal Palace
He became understudy to George and went on loan to Stoke towards the end of the 1897-98 season playing in their final 5 games of the season and their Test Matches which saw them stay up after a two leg victory over Burnley. He returned to Aston Villa and played 4 more times for the first team in 1898-99 before joining Stoke permanently in the summer of 1899 after 77 appearances for Villa.
He played four seasons for Stoke, the first two as their principal goalkeeper before losing his place to Dick Roose in 1901, remaining at The Victoria Ground as his understudy for a further two seasons before retiring in 1903, having made 80 appearances for The Potters in his second spell at the club.