Outside right Fred Staniforth was born in Kilnhurst near Rotherham and played local football for Kilnhurst Town in 1901, Rawmarsh in 1902 returning to Kilnhurst Town a year later, Rotherham Main Institute in 1904 and Mexborough Town in 1905. Bristol City manager Harry Thickett signed Fred Staniforth in July 1906, Bristol City had just been promoted to the First Division as Second Division champions. Staniforth replaced Walter Bennett to make his Football League debut on the right wing in a 0-2 defeat at Everton on 6th October 1906. He scored his first goal in his fourth League appearance in a 3-2 win at Notts County just before Christmas. Described as “clean, clever and brainy”, Staniforth made 26 appearances scoring 3 goals in 1906-07 as Bristol City achieved their highest ever League position finishing as First Division runners up to Newcastle United. In 1907-08 Staniforth continued as part of a regular forward line comprising Staniforth, Billy Maxwell, Sam Gilligan, Andy Burton and Frank Hilton. He made 37 appearances scoring 4 goals in 1907-08 when The Robins finished in 10th place.
The following season, 1908-09, the forward line was broken up as Willis Rippon and Bob Hardy came into the team. Staniforth made 34 League appearances scoring 4 goals in the First Division as Bristol City finished in 8th place. He also played in all 10 FA Cup ties as Bristol City reached the FA Cup Final in 1909 for the first and only time, losing 1-0 to Manchester United in front of 71,000 spectators at The Crystal Palace. A Bristol City match programme of the time made the following comments: “When Staniforth has possession of the ball, and an opportunity of doing well with it, his colleagues immediately know what to expect of him and prepare themselves accordingly. Such an outside right is a treasure to his club for in Staniforth’s play you see precious little of that mistaken attempting to blunder on towards the goal-line, when an early centre would give the ball to colleagues unmarked. Staniforth is unselfish and good.” High praise indeed!
Bristol City slipped to 16th place in the First Division in 1909-10 when Staniforth shared right wing duties with Bob Hardy scoring 4 goals in 23 appearances. Staniforth made 19 appearances without scoring in 1910-11 when Bristol City finished 19th and were relegated to the Second Division. Staniforth lost his regular place on the right wing in October 1910 when City signed Willie Clark from Sunderland but returned for 6 games of the final run of 8 matches.
After 15 goals in 149 appearances for the Ashton Gate club he joined Second Division Grimsby Town in the summer of 1911 and was an ever present in his first season at Blundell Park scoring 5 goals in 39 appearances, and scored 3 times in 30 games the following season as Grimsby finished 7th, but although Town had no desire to transfer Staniforth, he refused their contract offer and moved back to the First Division signing for Liverpool in May 1913. Staniforth’s Liverpool debut came in a crushing 4-1 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on 4th October 1913. He missed the next five games but returned for consecutive matches in a win at Preston and a draw with Newcastle at Anfield in November, but he was never selected for the first team again and retired from football in 1914.