Thorpe Hesley, Yorkshire born centre half Bernard Wilkinson started his football career playing for Thorpe Hesley Parish Church in 1895 and played for Shiregreen in 1896, Atlas & Norfolk in 1897 and Thorpe Hesley in 1898 before joining First Division Sheffield United in July 1899, making his Football League debut against Preston North End in March 1900, his only appearance of his debut season, breaking into the team with regularity from September 1901.
Wilkinson played in all 9 FA Cup ties in 1902 that culminated with The Blades beating Southampton 2-1 in the FA Cup Final at The Crystal Palace in a replay after a 1-1 draw in the first match a week earlier. He missed only one match in 1906-07 as The Blades posted their second fourth-placed League Championship finish with Wilkinson in the team, the first coming in 1902-03.
He was first called up to the England squad in April 1903, when he was a non playing reserve for the fixture against Scotland at Bramall Lane, and a year later he won his only England cap, when he played in a 1-0 victory over Scotland at Celtic Park, Glasgow in April 1904.
He spent fourteen seasons with Sheffield United, in eleven of those seasons he rarely missed a game, eventually becoming club captain. By the time he played his final game for the club in April 1913 he had scored 14 goals in 396 appearances for Sheffield United, before joining Rotherham Town that summer, where he saw out his career.
Wilkinson was also a decent cricketer playing at league level, he rejected an offer to play for Yorkshire. His brother William Wilkinson also played for seven seasons as an inside forward for Sheffield United between 1901 and 1908 albeit less successfully but was certainly a more successful cricketer, playing 127 matches for Yorkshire in the 1900’s, and representing the North of England in 1908.