Handsworth, Birmingham born winger Joe Wilson began his football career with Hamstead Swifts in 1881 and played for Aston Unity in 1882 before joining Stoke in 1883. He then joined Walsall Town in 1884 and Aston Villa in 1885, returning to Walsall Town in 1886. His next move was to West Bromwich Albion, and when they became founder members of the Football League, Wilson played in Albion’s inaugural game, a 2-0 victory at Stoke in September 1888, with Wilson scoring their first ever League goal five minutes from time to break the deadlock.
A regular in Albion’s starting line up for their first two seasons as a League club, he played in the 1889 FA Cup semi final team that lost to The Invincibles, Preston North End, eventual Double winners that season, 1-0 at Bramall Lane, and missed only two games per season before joining Kidderminster Harriers in the summer of 1890 after 14 goals in 46 appearances in Albion’s League era. He then joined Football Alliance club Birmingham St George’s later the same year, where he finished his playing career.