Inside forward Wilf Chadwick enjoyed one of the most meteoric rises in English football history and within a 26-month period went from playing amateur football to leading the First Division scoring chart.
Signed from non-league Rossendale for £350 in February 1922, he joined a club that was haunted by the spectre of relegation to the Second Division for the first time in its history. Two reserve-team outings yielded three goals and within weeks of leaving non-league ranks he unexpectedly found himself leading the Everton first-team forward line. Up against Bradford City, the 21-year-old debutant did not disappoint, scoring a brace on his debut. ‘Everton have found another good centre forward in Chadwick, who can justly be called an opportunist,’ recorded the Liverpool Echo. ‘But he does not finish at that, for his passes to the wings were always accurate and well conceived, while he placed himself well when there was a likelihood of a centre coming his way.’
Tall, direct, and an accurate, effective finisher, the youngster suffered by comparison to his more polished forward team-mates – Bobby Irvine, Sam Chedgzoy, Jack Cock and Alec Troup. His lack of pace also saw him singled out for criticism in the local press through his Everton career. ‘Chadwick keeps on scoring, and such a fine opportunist deserves every encouragement,’ reported the Liverpool Courier after his second appearance also yielded a goal. ‘He is on the slow side yet, but knows where the net lies, and with more experience will be a decided acquisition.’
CHADWICK’S annus mirabilis came in the 1923/24 season when he outshone his more celebrated team-mates to top the First Division scoring charts. Playing in Everton’s most settled side in years suited him, as did the presence of the brilliant left winger Alec Troup for all but one game. ‘Chadwick is a better footballer and a better shot than has been given credit for, and he has shown more genuine football this season than has been generally recognised,’ opined the Daily Post early in the campaign. ‘His shots are always so forceful that he should be left severely alone in the matter of tactics and speed. He is gaining experience every day and he is reaping a rich harvest through playing alongside Troup.’ It was an accurate prediction and Chadwick’s haul of 28 goals included four goals against Manchester City and a hat-trick in the final home game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur.
Yet within less than a year of topping the First Division scoring charts, Chadwick found himself out of favour at Goodison. The promise shown in the previous campaign subsided and when relegation became a possibility, the board of directors dismantled the team, selling Jack Cock and bringing in Manchester United’s Fred Kennedy, who replaced Chadwick.
The board resisted offers from Bradford City,Leicester City and Swansea Town for Chadwick but in November 1925 sold him to Leeds United for £2,500. He later enjoyed good spells with Wolves and Stoke City, but the heights once reached at Goodison remained elusive.