Bury, Lancashire born inside left and later left half Fred “Sonny” Wilkinson began his football career with St Augustine’s and played for Lancaster Town in 1909, from where he joined Southern League club Norwich City in 1910. He joined North Eastern League club Darlington in 1911 from where he signed for Second Division club Blackpool in the 1912 close season, making his Football League debut at Grimsby Town the same September. He scored his only goal for The Tangerines in a win over hometown club Bury two weeks later, making 15 appearances as Bury struggled at the foot of the division. He returned to the Southern League, signing for Newport County in the summer of 1913, and his career was then interrupted by the onset of the First World War in 1915.
After the War, by now playing left half, he joined Central League club Stalybridge Celtic in 1919 before a move to Third Division newcomers Watford in the 1920 close season. He featured in Watford’s inaugural League fixture in a win at Queen’s Park Rangers that August, and was a regular in their first League season, making 39 appearances, He was then signed by Second Division club Stoke in the summer of 1921, but he played just 3 matches for Stoke at the beginning of the season, losing his place after a defeat at West Ham United, his only matches in a season which ended with Stoke being promoted as Second Division runners-up. Wilkinson returned to East Anglia to join non league club Bury St Edmunds, his final known club before his eventual retirement.