Fred Whittaker started with Burnley and moved to top-flight Bradford City before switching to Southern League Northampton Town. Arriving at Exeter City in 1912 he played two Southern League seasons and was the Grecians top scorer with thirteen goals in 1913/14. Returning from City’s 1914 tour to Argentina and Brazil he soon left for Millwall where he was joined by fellow Grecian Jack Fort. His final game for Exeter City was against the Brazilian national team.
Starting his professional career in 1905 with Burnley, his local club, he made 60 appearances (scoring 21 goals) during his time at Turf Moor before signing for Bradford City in 1908 and moving on to Northampton Town in 1909. Regarded as something of a rising talent during his early seasons with Burnley, he was known as the “Burnley Bloomer” in comparison to Steve Bloomer (Derby, Middlesbrough and England).
Remaining with Northampton for three seasons - and playing some cricket for one of Northamptonshire’s teams along the way - he signed for Exeter City in 1912. About to enter the club’s fifth season in the Southern League, manager Arthur Chadwick was hopeful of a better outcome in 1912/13 and gave Fred his debut against West Ham United on 2 September 1912. Playing 38 times in the league (scoring on four occasions) during his first season, he subsequently finished top scorer in 1913/14 with 13 goals from thirty matches.
After two seasons, in which the Grecians finished 7th and 12th, Fred embarked on City’s tour to Argentina and Brazil in 1914 and scored a hat-trick against Combinados in Buenos Aires. Appearing for the club for the last time against the Brazil XI, he signed for Millwall on his return home. Joining the South London club at the same time as Grecians’ team mate Jack Fort (who was to play for Millwall until 1930), he was to remain with Millwall until after the Great War having served as part of the 1st Footballers’ Battalion 17th Middlesex Regiment.
Signing for Chatham in 1920, he had five children one of whom was born during City’s South American tour. Two others played sport at a decent level: William, an England amateur international footballer and Geoffrey, a Surrey cricketer. Listed as a painter and decorator in 1939, and having possibly served in the Home Guard, Fred Whittaker later died in a care home in Seaton in 1960.