Colmonell, Ayrshire born inside forward James Wilson began his senior football career with St Mirren in around 1898 and scored 13 goals in 80 appearances for The Buddies before coming south to join Second Division Preston North End in March 1904, making his Football League debut at Woolwich Arsenal the following month, playing four matches in the run-in as Preston won the Second Division Championship. He became a regular member of their first eleven the following season as they consolidated their position in the First Division with an eighth place finish before an exceptional season in 1905-06 when Preston finished runners up in the League Championship to Liverpool, with Wilson missing only four games in the campaign.
His best season in front of goal saw 11 goals in 1908-09 as Preston finished mid-table, but thereafter he became a fringe player at Deepdale, making only 9 further appearances and playing his last match in November 1910 having scored 32 goals in 170 appearances for The Lilywhites.
Three of Wilson’s brothers were also professional footballers. Andrew was a Scottish international who played for Clyde and made well over 500 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday in a lengthy career. David, also a Scottish international, spent most of his (also lengthy) career with Oldham Athletic, and played for St Mirren, Bradford City and Nelson, and Alex also played for Oldham. Both Andrew and David were also football managers.