Born in Murton, County Durham, goalkeeper Ernie Williamson began his career at local sides Murton Red Star in 1911 and Wingate Albion in 1912 before moving to London in June 1913 to join Croydon Common. He was immediately Common’s first choice glovesman making 68 appearances in the Southern League and FA Cup. He won the Southern League Division Two Championship with Croydon Common in 1913-14 and played a further 36 wartime appearances during 1915-16, playing in the club’s last ever match.
During World War One he served in the Royal Army Service Corps and also turned out for various teams as a guest, including some 114 wartime appearances for Arsenal. After the War ended, Williamson officially signed for Arsenal, who had just been promoted to the First Division, for £150 in April 1919, making his Football League debut in August 1919 against Newcastle United. After sharing the goalkeeper’s jersey with Stephen Dunn in 1919-20 he made it his own the following season, playing 33 of The Gunners’ 42 matches in 1920-21, and only missing one match the season after that.
His consistency for Arsenal brought the attention of the England selectors, and he became Arsenal’s first post-First World War international, playing in both of England’s matches away to Sweden on 21st May and 24th May 1923, the matches finishing in 4-2 and 3-1 wins. He had already played for England in a Victory international against Wales in a 1-2 defeat at Cardiff on 11th October 1919. However, despite his England caps his Arsenal place was under threat; after conceding fourteen goals first in five matches during 1922-23 he had been dropped in favour of Dunn, and later Jock Robson. In June 1923 he left Arsenal on a free transfer to join Division Three (South) Norwich City. In all he played 113 matches for Arsenal, in addition to his unofficial wartime appearances. After playing for Norwich for two seasons, making 47 appearances, Williamson retired from football altogether in 1925.