Thomas Nevins was born in Usworth, then a colliery village south east of Gateshead that is now enveloped by the northern area of Washington New Town. He grew up within a coal mining family and himself was working as a miner by the age of 15 while living with relatives. By 1907 he was playing football for Washington Athletic in the prosaic surroundings of the Sunderland District League when he was spotted by Hull City’s scouts, and he signed for the Tigers in May 1907. Nevins spent his first season in the Reserves, making only one first team appearance in January 1908 when he deputised at left back for Jack McQuillan.
Despite this low key start to his City career, Nevins was appeciated by the City management thanks to his unorthodox playing style, which involved considerable amounts of barging, shoving and playing of the man – this struck fear into his opponents and angered opposition fans throughout his seven years with the club. Early in 1908/09 season Nevins was bought into the first team to replace McQuillan at left back for a three month period, and when McQuillan was restored to fitness in December 1908 Nevins switched to right back, starting ahead of young Geordie right back William Stephenson who came through the City ranks alongside Nevins. Stephenson won his place back at Christmas and Nevins returned to the reserves, reappearing again briefly for two 0-1 defeats in April 1909.
In 1909/10 season manager Ambrose Langley showed more favour towards Nevins’ ultra-aggressive approach to the game and he started 19 of the 31 games between September and March in his favoured right back position, but Stephenson was restored to the first team for the last two months of the season. Nevins started at left back on the final day of the season ahead of McQuillan, the game that City needed to win to secure promotion to the First Division but lost 0-3 to their promotion rivals Oldham Athletic. The 1910/11 season again saw Nevins fill in at both full back positions for the first three months, but from early December 1910 onwards he was the first choice right back, a position he held until February 1912 – William Stephenson having been transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in August 1910. In the last three months of the 1911/12 season Nevins was replaced at right back by another rival, Tynesider Jack Houghton, but Tommy was first choice right back for most of the 1912/13 season.
Towards the end of the 1912/13 season long standing City manager Ambrose Langley was replaced by young former Sheffield Wednesday player Harry Chapman, and Chapman quickly turned to Northumberland man John Pattison to fulfil right back duties. Tommy dropped out of the City first team picture in September 1913 and his final appearance came in a January 1914 league match against Woolwich Arsenal folloiwng a bruising FA Cup encounter at Bury three days earlier. In the 1914 close season Nevins joined Blyth Spartans where he was a regular for one season before World War One intervened. Tommy did not returned to senior football after WW1 – he is reported in some texts as playing for and managing West Stanley after the war, but that was a sturdy centre half from the Derwent Valley near Gateshead called Jack Nevin, not Tommy Nevins.
Nevins returned to live in Usworth and by 1939 he was working in the local colliery as a storeman and living on Tyne Gardens, a house that still stands today. He died in Washington towards the end of 1950.
Date/Place of Birth: 17 March 1886, Usworth
Hull City First Game: 18 January 1908, Burnley A (Division Two), 21 years, 307 days old
Hull City Final Game: 17 January 1914, Woolwich Arsenal H (Division Two), 27 years, 306 days old
Washington Athletic (1906-1907), Hull City (1907-1914), Blyth Spartans (1914-1915)
Hull City Record
Career: 140 apps, 0 goalsTommy Nevins