Bristol born centre forward Fred Whitlow began his football career with Whitmore Albions in 1921 before he joined Southern League Barry Town as a 17 year old, playing four times that season in the Southern League as well as 15 times in the Welsh League. His senior debut came on 9 December 1922 in the Welsh League match against Caerau F.C.. In 1923 he joined Barry YMCA before returning to Barry Town for the 1924-25 season. In the summer of 1927 Whitlow signed for Third Division (South) Charlton Athletic, his Football League debut coming at Merthyr Town that August, scoring once in four appearances before following Charlton manager Sandy MacFarlane to Dundee in January 1928, where MacFarlane had previously spent 6 years as manager. However, the move was short-lived and Whitlow returned to Charlton in May 1928.
His breakthrough came the following season when he finished as The Addicks’ top scorer. Playing in 35 of the 42 League matches in the 1928-29 season, Whitlow alone scored 22 of Charlton’s 86 goals that season, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Walsall in December 1928, and another 4 in FA Cup ties, and it was on goal difference that the Division (South) Championship was grasped from the hands of local rivals Crystal Palace who had also finished the season on 54 points. He followed this with 27 goals in 1929-30 including a hat-trick against Cardiff City in August 1929, as The Addicks finished 13th in the Second Division.
After one further season at Charlton he moved to Exeter City in the summer of 1931, having scored 63 goals in 96 appearances in his second spell at The Valley. He ended his first season with the Grecians with an impressive 15 goals from 21 League appearances, including a hat-trick against Queen’s Park Rangers in October 1931, but it was the following season that he lit the blue touch paper. He top scored with 34 goals in as many appearances in the campaign, with no less than seven home hat-tricks, against Watford, Reading, Southend United, Swindon Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Torquay United and Newport County. Whitlow’s goal scoring prowess in 1932-33 remains an Exeter City club record. Finishing as runners-up in the Third Division (South), the campaign remains the pinnacle of Exeter City’s League football history.
Although 1933-34 produced only a relatively modest 19 goals, and one League hat-trick against Brighton & Hove Albion, he produced another extraordinary goalscoring feat when he scored 6 goals in an 11-6 win over Crystal Palace in a Third Division Cup tie in January 1934. In the summer of 1934, after 68 goals in 89 appearances for The Grecians, Whitlow moved to Cardiff City, but his opportunities were limited and he scored only once in 8 appearances during 1934-35, rejoining Barry Town in 1935 where he scored 100 goals in the next two seasons before retiring in 1937 aged 33.