Foleshill, Warwickshire born right half Fred Chaplin played local football for St Paul’s Bible Class in 1900 and Foleshill Great Heath in 1901 before joining Coventry City, then playing in the Birmingham & District League, in 1902. Chaplin’s reputation as a goalscorer and his performance in a representative match between the Birmingham and Scottish Junior Football Associations earned him a contract with First Division club Small Heath in 1903. He made his Football League debut on 16th January 1904 in a 1-1 draw away at Aston Villa, and kept his place for the next three games against Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers.
Despite his goalscoring history, these four games were played in the half back line, deputising in turn for centre-half Walter Wigmore and wing halves Harry Howard and Billy Beer. At the end of the season, Chaplin moved to Woolwich Arsenal, but after one season in London he returned to Coventry City without having appeared for the first team. He was a Coventry player when they joined the Southern League and continued to play for them through to 1912.