Thorpe Hesley, Yorkshire born right half William Wilkinson started his football career playing for Thorpe Hesley before following older brother Bernard in joining First Division Sheffield United, making his Football League debut at Liverpool in April 1902, playing once more before the end of his debut season. In 1902 Wilkinson, playing at inside left, scored in five successive matches between October and November, but from the following season appeared mainly in the half back line, albeit his opportunities were sporadic.
Wilkinson first appeared in 10 or more fixtures for The Blades in 1905-06, and his best season saw a run of 21 matches between Christmas Day 1907 and April 1908, all at right half. However he reverted to the fringes in 1908-09 playing just twice before leaving Sheffield United to join Bolton Wanderers in September 1909, having scored 7 goals in 63 appearances for The Blades. At Bolton he made just 2 appearances during the course of the 1909-10 season before retiring from professional football.
Wilkinson was a first class cricketer who played 127 matches between 1903 and 1910 as a left handed middle order batsman and a slow left arm orthodox bowler. He played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 1903 and 1910, and was also selected to represent the North of England in 1908. He also played for the Yorkshire Second XI from 1902 to 1912, and for R. W. Frank’s XI in 1906. He scored one century and 18 half centuries with a highest score of 103 against Sussex, and an average of 21.73 from 3,912 runs scored in first class cricket, taking 31 wickets with his spin bowling at 31.32 apiece, with a best of 4 for 23 against Oxford University. He also took 4 for 27 against Sussex and held 93 catches in first class play.
His older brother Bernard Wilkinson was also a useful cricketer who rejected the chance to play for Yorkshire, but was far better known as an excellent footballer spending most of his career in the top flight with Sheffield United, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1902, and also playing once for England in 1904.