The first player to sign professional terms for Southport Central. Often referred to as just Thomas Lea, he played in every position for the club apart from in goal.
Having started as an amateur with Everton before joining the Sandgrounders, Lea went on to play First Division football for Accrington Stanley before hanging up his boots due to injury in 1895.
Thomas stayed in the Southport area and became a prominant member of the council, on which is brother William also served. After giving up football he became a Wine and Spirit merchant and had a shop on Brighton Road in Birkdale.
He celebrated his Golden wedding anniversary just two months before his death on 5th June 1939.
He had not been well for some time before his death but had been in his shop the previous day before complaining of feeling ill.