Beighton, Sheffield born left winger Ernie “Tug” Wilson began his football career with Silverwood Colliery in 1919 and played for Beighton Recreation in 1920 and Denaby United in 1921. He had been rejected after a trial by Sheffield Wednesday in 1918 as too small, but he was signed from Denaby by Third Division (South) Brighton & Hove Albion in 1922 and made his Football League debut that October against Brentford in a 2-1 victory. He immediately became a first team regular as well as being regularly on the scoresheet for The Seagulls, and although only twice an ever present (in 1924-25 and 1927-28) he missed very few games over fourteen seasons at The Goldstone Ground, with the team finishing inside the top eight in the League in ten of those seasons.
His best goalscoring return was 11 goals in his penultimate season, 1934-35, and he played in some of Albion’s biggest FA Cup upsets during the 1920’s and 1930’s as the club made a name for itself as ‘FA Cup Giant Killers’. Wilson played in a 5-2 demolition of Everton in 1924 and appeared in famous wins over Grimsby, Leicester and Portsmouth. He was also part of Brighton’s 1932-33 FA Cup team that was eventually eliminated 1-0 in a fifth round replay at West Ham United, Wilson having played 11 cup ties in the process. Wilson scored the winning goal in the FA Cup third round win over Chelsea in that run in front of over 20,000 fans at The Goldstone.
He played his last match for Brighton in April 1936 and he is still the Brighton & Hove Albion all time appearance record holder, having played 546 times for The Seagulls, scoring 72 goals. After joining non league Vernon Athletic in the summer of 1936 he retired from playing in 1937.