Tom Kelly, who played most of his professional football in two spells with Torquay United, is chiefly remembered at Exeter City for his late arrival on the scene when the Grecians won the Division Four title in 1990. Arriving from York City, Tom played a dozen late-season games scoring twice from the penalty spot against Scarborough as the season reached its conclusion. Remaining at St James’ Park for two-and-a-half seasons after promotion, Tom returned to Torquay and was later a key member of the Taunton Town side that won the FA Vase.
Starting with Gartcosh United, Tom began his professional career with Hibernian before having spells with Partick Thistle and Queen of the South. Joining Hartlepool United in August 1985, and not having played in the Scottish League for any of his previous clubs, Tom made his professional debut in Hartlepool’s colours and went on to make fifteen league appearances before joining Torquay United in July 1986. Making 120 league appearances for the Plainmoor club over the next three seasons, Tom appeared in a team which narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference in 1987 before reaching a play-off final in 1988 and the final of the Associate Members Cup (later Football League Trophy) at Wembley in 1989.
Leaving Torquay for York City in June 1989, Tom became a regular at Bootham Crescent making 35 appearances before a March 1990 £15,000 transfer to an Exeter City team chasing for promotion from Division Four. Appearing first for the Grecians as a substitute against Rochdale on 24 March 1990, he was to play in the last eleven games as Exeter first clinched promotion and then the championship. Tom also scored twice during that period when he netted two penalties in the key game against Scarborough on 28 April 1990.
With City now in the third-tier, Tom remained at the club for another two-and-a-half seasons adding a further seventy-six appearances to bring his final Grecians league tally to 88 games (9 goals). He then returned to Torquay United on a free transfer in January 1993 where, in his steady unassuming way, he accumulated another 117 league appearances. Finishing on a career total 375 Football League games for his various clubs, Tom moved to Weymouth in the summer of 1996 and later briefly appeared for Teignmouth and Ilfracombe before enjoying a long association with Taunton Town where he won the Western League, the FA Vase and promotion to the Southern League. Playing into his forties, Tom later moved to Bideford, Bridgwater United, Stoke Gabriel and Bovey Tracey. Living all the while in Torquay, Tom on occasions played alongside his son Cameron who became a well-known footballer in the South Devon area.