Banbury Castle, Northumberland born half back William Wake began his football career with his village team, Banbury Castle, for whom he played for at the age of 14 as a centre-half in the Northumberland Junior League, which the team won. He then signed for Morpeth Harriers and after playing against Newcastle United in the Northumberland Charity Shield was signed by them, but his chances were few and far between and he never made a first team appearance.
Wake moved to Devon for the 1907-08 season to join Southern League club Plymouth Argyle, but he was injured in one of the pre-season trial matches, and when he recovered was unable to force his way into their side. Signing for Exeter City in the summer of 1908, he lined up in the club’s first ever Southern League match in a 2-2 draw at Millwall that September. He played 30 matches for The Grecians before signing for Southern League rivals Queen’s Park Rangers in the 1909 close season, and he played for QPR until 1916, scoring once in 240 appearances for The R’s, winning the Southern League Championship with them in 1911-12, but his career was effectively ended by the onset of the First World War, which forced the suspension of peacetime football in May 1915.