He was a small busy midfielder who played for Scottish Schoolboys and for Celtic Boys Club. He then moved to Cumbernauld United in the early seventies, just a few years after hero Kenny Dalglish the former Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland International played for the club.
In 1973 he signed for Albion Rovers who were better known for having the spicy trio of Bill Currie, Sid Sage and Albert Rice in their side than for their performances on the park. Changes to the Scottish league structure in 1975-76 season saw Rovers placed in the new Second Division, which was now the third tier of the Scottish League, but they hardly set the league alight.
One interesting aside is in 1983 confectioners Tunnock’s – One of Ashley’s favourite biscuits – became the club’s shirt sponsor and the appearance of the shirt was altered to mimic the gold wrapper with red diagonal stripes of the caramel wafer bar they produce. Rovers becoming one of the few clubs to wear a kit inspired by a biscuit!
In 1978 after 151 appearances and 38 goals Tom moved south of the boarder to England when he signed for Blackpool. He made his debut against Swindon Town at the county Ground on September the 23rd and scored the winner in a 1-0 victory, with surprisingly, his head. (Ashley was probably at the game as an avid Swindon fan, but he cannot recall this game so Tom has been forgiven! Also because Swindon finished 5th and Blackpool 12th!).
After a season with the Seasiders Tom discovered he liked the sea air and moved further South to the English Riviera, to join Torquay United. After three years 89 appearances and 12 goals, Tom headed back to Scotland to Dunfermline, before packing his bags and heading down under in search of the perfect beach and more football.
Marconi offered him the chance to check out the Sydney beaches. Doug Collins (former Burnley player) was the coach, who approached Tom while in the UK. Canberra City came calling next where he made 57 appearances in the old National Soccer League, before a brief stint in New Zealand.
Having hung up his boots he turned his attention to the world of coaching and began his new career with Canberra Metros who he steered to the New South Wales League Grand Final.
In 1994 he was appointed coach of the Australian National Women’s team, the Matildas. It was during his tenure that he lead the Matildas to their first ever World Cup Finals in 1995. He stepped down from the role in 1997 and headed to Japan to coach at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
In 2000 he was back in Canberra and back in charge of a National Soccer League team, the Canberra Cosmos. The league was in turmoil at the time and Sermanni steered Canberra to their best league finish in five seasons.
Soccer Australia in their review of the NSL decided to reduce the league from 16 teams to 12 and Canberra Cosmos was cut from the league.
Next stop for Tom was the United States and the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) where he coached in San Jose (The CyberRays) and New York (New York Power). On his way back to Australia he stopped off in Malaysia to coach Sarawak for seven months.
Tom was re-instated as Matildas coach in December 2004 taking over from Adrian Santrac in January 2005. In 2006 he steered them to the final of the AFC Asian Cup only to watch the girls lose in a penalty shoot out. In 2007 he led the team to the knock out stage at a World Cup for the first time in their history. Sermanni was rewarded for his work by being named AFC coach of the year.
Then followed a rebuilding process as many of the stalwarts of the team retired. In 2010 his rebuilding paid dividends as the Matildas became the first Australian team to win a major international tournament when they won the AFC Asian Cup, again via a penalty shoot out.
Now he looks to build on that success and steer the team through a tough Group and into the Quarter Finals of the World Cup in 2011.