William Wilson was a prominent sportsman at Prince Alfred College before developing into a solid defender with Norwood. Born in Adelaide on 6 July 1872, he won accolades in an appraisal published in The Prince Alfred College Chronicle in May 1888: "Back wing man. Very fast. Good kick. Very sure mark, and all there when wanted. Can follow when called upon." In 1889, he was vice-captain and a follower who "displayed considerable tact throughout" as his team came from behind for a famous 7.13 to 6.5 victory over St Peter's College.
Also in 1889, he opened both the batting and the bowling for his school, but experienced the disappointment of a St Peter's victory by 24 runs despite his outstanding match bowling figures of 8/89 off 70 overs, with 35 maidens. He did, however, receive a silver medal.
William first tasted senior football with Adelaide in 1889 and was a regular member of the team in 1890, when he kicked five goals. He made his Norwood debut in 1892 as one of a number of youngsters recruited to replace a bunch of seasoned players who had moved on after the premiership success of the previous year. 'Goalpost' in The South Australian Register commented that "(Alf) Finlay showed that there are some excellent seasons in store for him if he will only profit by watching his more experienced comrades; and the same may be said of W. Wilson."
William consolidated his place in the team, mainly on a half-back flank but also at centre half-back and the back pocket. At the end of the 1893 season, The South Australian Register said: "On the back line Grayson, Hannam, Wilson, and Travers were the mainstays."
Norwood continued its progress in 1894, but Wilson was not in the team which toppled first Port Adelaide and then South Adelaide to capture the club's 11th premiership.
William was one of the pioneers of baseball in South Australia. In the first games against Victoria in January 1891, he played in the second nine with John and Charlie Woods while Rue Ewers and ‘Nug’ Plunkett were in the first nine. All were current or future Norwood footballers. William joined Rue in the first nine in 1894.
Retired from football and baseball, William was appointed to the Adelaide Observatory in 1900 and was on the cusp of a promising career when he died at Norwood on his 29th birthday, 6 July 1901. He was survived by his wife Mabel and baby daughter Dorothy.
P Robins April 2018