One of twelve brothers, four of which played for the club during the 1920’s, Tom Keetley joined the Rovers from Bradford Park Avenue in 1923. He went on to become one of the most significant He spent six seasons at Belle Vue and scored more than 20 goals every term, and is Rovers all-time leading goal scorer with an incredible 180 goals.
During the 1926-27 season, Keetley bagged an amazing 36 league goals in 36 games, an incredible scoring record over the course of a season that never looked like being surpassed. That was however until two years later when in 1929 Keetley finished top of the scoring charts with 40 league goals on just 32 matches, including an outstanding performance in a match at Ashington when he scored 6 of the Rovers goals in a 7-4 victory.
He was a legend whilst at Rovers, so it is understandable that consternation resounded around Belle Vue in October 1928 when he was placed on the transfer list at his own request, having had a disagreement with the board over the terms of his benefit. Eventually however the dispute was resolved with the club guaranteeing a sum from a match to be played against Hearts.
Evidently however, the problems with the board was never totally resolved and the following summer Keetley declined to re-sign for the club, instead preferring to move back to Derbyshire to be closer to his business interests there. The fee the club received from second division Notts County went towards offsetting the loss the club had accrued the following season, however the loss of Keetley’s goals would have left a bigger void in any team than the one on the balance sheet.
The goals continued to flow at his new club, where he still holds the club record for goals scored in a single season with 39 and he scored a total of 94 goals in 103 games for Notts County, and when his career ended in 1934 following a brief spell with Lincoln City he had made a total of 330 league appearances, with yielded a return of 284 goals.
Keetley was a goal scorer the likes of which are seldom seen, his record in a Rovers shirt (185 goals in 241 appearances in competitions for the club) is unparalleled, with the biggest surprise of all being that Rovers never achieved promotion during his time at the club, despite his goals. Quite simply Tom Keetley was the clubs greatest ever goal scorer.