Worsborough Dale, Yorkshire born outside left Frank Hilton began his football career with Doncaster St James, from where he was signed by Second Division club Bristol City in July 1905, making his Football League debut at Lincoln City that October, immediately establishing himself as a first team regular as Bristol City won promotion to the First Division for the first time, finishing as runners up in the Second Division. Hilton was a regular in their next campaign, their first in the top flight, when they finished runners up in the League Championship, and he became the first Bristol City player to be honoured by The Football League, playing and scoring in the representative XI in a 6-3 win over The Irish League at Roker Park on 12th October 1907.
Hilton continued as a regular for the next two seasons, which culminated with Bristol City’s appearance in the 1909 FA Cup Final, in which Hilton played despite only playing in three of the earlier nine ties missing the semi final, however in the Final The Robins lost 1-0 to Manchester United at The Crystal Palace. However perhaps due to injury Hilton was overlooked for most of the 1909-10 season, and played only one more match for The Robins, as they were defeated at Newcastle United in October 1909.
Having scored 22 goals in 125 appearances, Hilton left Bristol City in the summer of 1910. On 30th July 1910 Sheffield sports paper The Star Green ‘Un announced that Frank Hilton had signed for Midland League club Rotherham Town. The 1911 UK census confirmed Hilton’s occupation as a “professional footballer”, listed under his formal name “Francis Hilton”, and showed that he had returned to live at his parents’ house at 56 Carr Hill, Balby, Doncaster. Hilton’s football career at Rotherham Town has not been traced any further than 1912, newspapers of the day reveal that he was still playing for them as recently as the first half of the 1912-13 season but it is his last recorded club before his eventual retirement.