Bedminster born centre half Billy “Fatty” Wedlock is possibly Bristol City’s most famous son, truly a legend at Ashton Gate, who started his football career with junior clubs Masonic Rovers and Bristol Melrose in 1898 and Arlington Rovers in 1899 before first joining the Ashton Gate club as an amateur in 1900 before they joined the Football League, while still a Southern League club. He represented the Gloucestershire FA around this time. However he didn’t stay very long, going on to play for Gloucester County in 1901 and Aberdare Town in 1902 before rejoining City in the summer of 1905, making his Football League debut at Manchester United that September.
He played for them over 400 times in total between 1900 and 1921 winning the Second Division title with them in 1906, his first full season as a League professional, inspiring them to their remarkable (and all time club record) runners up position in the First Division in 1906-07, and playing for them in their losing FA Cup Final team of 1909, when they lost 1-0 to Manchester United in the Final at Crystal Palace in front of 71,000 spectators.
He also won 26 caps for England between 1907 and 1914, scoring twice, a huge number of caps for the time, with 25 consecutive appearances between 1907 and 1912, and only United’s Charlie Roberts rivalling him for the centre half berth. He made his debut in February 1907 in a 1-0 win over Ireland at Goodison Park and missed very few matches through to his last appearance when he scored in a 2-0 victory over Wales at Ninian Park in March 1914, which for another 9 years saw him as England’s oldest goalscorer. He also played 3 “Test Matches” against the South African National team on the FA Tour to South Africa in the summer of 1910.
While the First World War took four seasons off the later years of his career, and no doubt several England caps, he returned to Ashton Gate in 1919 and made 40 further appearances, by now 40 years old, before retiring in 1921 after 17 goals in 391 appearances for The Robins (excluding his 1900 Southern League record which is an unconfirmed 12 appearances). He also played 3 times for The Football League. The East End at Ashton Gate Stadium was named the Wedlock Stand in his honour, before being demolished in 2014 as part of the Ashton Gate Stadium redevelopment. Wedlock’s pub (now demolished) opposite the ground was where he lived and worked for 43 years. The well known folk singer Fred Wedlock was Billy’s grandson.
NB although published in 1920 this photograph was almost certainly taken before the First World War.