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Samuel Frederick Tilson (19 April 1904 – 21 November 1972) was an English professional footballer who played for Manchester City and England. He was born in Swinton, South Yorkshire. He was part of the City team that won both the FA Cup and the League Championship (Division 1) in the 1930s. He has been described as 'a quick thinker with an elusive body-swerve'.[1]

Fred Tilson
Personal information
Full name Samuel Frederick Tilson
Date of birth (1904-04-19)19 April 1904
Place of birth Swinton, England
Date of death 21 November 1972(1972-11-21) (aged 68)
Place of death Manchester, England
Playing position Centre forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1928–1939 Manchester City 264 (110)
National team
1934–1935 England 4 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Early lifeEdit

Tilson was born in Swinton, South Yorkshire on 19 April 1904. He began his football career at Barnsley Congregationals and was able to play in both inside forward and centre forward positions. He subsequently moved to Barnsley where he played alongside Eric Brook. The form of both players attracted bigger teams and in 1928 they were both transferred to Manchester City for a combined fee of £6,000,[2] the pair making their debuts on 17 March against Grimsby Town.[3] Brook and Tilson joined a strong forward line at the club that included two England internationals in Tommy Johnson and Frank Roberts.

Manchester CityEdit

In his first season Tilson made 6 appearances and helped City earn promotion to the first division. Tilson would make 264 league appearances for the team and score 110 goals. In his second season with the team he played 22 times and scored 12 goals making him City's third highest goalscorer behind Tommy Johnson who scored a club record of 38 goals and Eric Brook who scored 14 goals. Injuries restricted his appearances in the football season of 1929–1930 and 1930–1931. He scored 13 league goals in the 1931–1932 football season and 3 FA Cup goals. City managed to reach the semi final of the FA Cup that year but were defeated by Arsenal by 1–0. In the 1932–1933 football season Tilson was the club's leading goalscorer with 23 goals in all competitions. This included 17 league goals and 6 FA Cup goals. In the 1933 FA Cup final Manchester City were defeated three goals to nil by Everton who were captained by England international Dixie Dean. Tilson did not play in the final of that year's competition but did play in the 1934 FA Cup final in which he scored twice in a 2–1 victory over Portsmouth. City had been trailing by a goal to nil at half time and City goalkeeper Frank Swift blamed himself for that had given Portsmouth the lead. Tilson in an attempt to console the young keeper told him not to worry because he would score two in the second half. He was true to his words.[4]


Tilson has been inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame. In 1977 the Manchester City Council named eleven streets in a new estate in Moss Side after famous City players including Tilson.[5] He is listed as the twenty-eighth greatest ever City player on the Time website[6] and eighteenth in Ian Penney's book The Essential History of Manchester City.[7]


  1. ^ Barrett, Norman (1999). The Daily Telegraph Football Chronicle 4th Edition. Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-85868-884-1. p65
  2. ^ Clayton, David (2002). Everything under the blue moon: the complete book of Manchester City FC – and more!. Edinburgh: Mainstream publishing. ISBN 1-84018-687-9. p40
  3. ^ James, Gary (2002). Manchester: The Greatest City. Leicester: Polar. ISBN 978-1-899538-22-5. 140.
  4. ^ Barrett, Norman (1999). The Daily Telegraph Football Chronicle 4th Edition. Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-85868-884-1. p55
  5. ^ Ward, Andrew (1984). The Manchester City Story. Derby: Breedon Books Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-907969-05-4. p75
  6. ^ Turner, Ric. "The 50 greatest Manchester City players". The Times. London. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  7. ^ Penney, Ian (2000). The Essential History of Manchester City. Swindon: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-7034-1. p188