William Wilton

William Wilton (9 June 1865 – 2 May 1920) was a Scottish football player, administrator and manager. He was the first manager of Rangers Football Club, serving in that position from 1899 until his death in 1920, and leading Rangers to nine major trophies. He had previously served as Rangers' match secretary to the reserve and first teams.

William Wilton
Personal information
Full name William Wilton
Date of birth (1865-06-09)9 June 1865
Place of birth Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland
Date of death 2 May 1920(1920-05-02) (aged 54)
Place of death Gourock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Teams managed
Years Team
1899–1920 Rangers

Early lifeEdit

William Wilton was born at Blyth's Land on Nelson Street in Largs, Ayrshire on 9 June 1865, the son of James Wilton, a stonemason from the Isle of Arran, and Janet Smith, a weaver from Paisley.[1][2] Wilton grew up in Largs and the Kingston area of Glasgow, and worked in Glasgow as a mercantile clerk with a sugar broker and then a sugar refining machinery manufacturer.[3]


Wilton joined the club in September 1883 as a player but never progressed beyond the second string eleven.[4] He was soon appointed secretary to the club's youth team and reserve side. He was also on the special committee that oversaw the club's move from Kinning Park to the first Ibrox ground in 1887.

Wilton became match secretary of the first team in 1889, succeeding James Gossland. The club shared the inaugural Scottish League title in 1891. Wilton had been appointed as the league's first treasurer at the start of the season. In his decade as match secretary for the first team, the club won two Scottish league championships in 1891 and 1899, as well as three Scottish Cups in 1894, 1897 and 1898. He also won four Glasgow Cups in 1893, 1894, 1897 and 1898, and a Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup in 1897. Rangers had achieved the first ever 100% league record, winning all 18 games and scoring 79 goals in 1898–99; to date no team has achieved the same, although several teams have gone unbeaten in a league season since.

When the club became a limited company in 1899, Wilton was chosen as manager. Under his stewardship as manager, Rangers won eight league championships and another Scottish Cup, nine Glasgow Cups and seven Charity Cups. He also guided the club's move to the second (extant) Ibrox Park in 1899 and its response to the disaster at that venue three years later. In his final season as manager the club won its tenth league championship. Wilton died in a boating accident in May 1920.[4] He was Rangers manager in 881 matches (not including his earlier spell as secretary), of which they won 553.[5]

Managerial statisticsEdit

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Rangers   27 May 1899 2 May 1920 724 476 120 128 065.75




  1. ^ Birth certificate of William Wilton, 9 June 1865, Largs District, Ayrshire 602/56;– National Records of Scotland
  2. ^ 1861 census return, Largs District, Ayrshire 602/ 6/ 4;– National Records of Scotland
  3. ^ Edinburgh Evening News; Monday 3 May 1920
  4. ^ a b Yachting accident: Rangers club secretary drowned, Glasgow Herald, 3 May 1920
  5. ^ Rangers manager William Wilton, FitbaStats

External linksEdit