James “Skeeta” Wilkinson was born in Weston in 1913, and lived in the town his entire life. His slight frame earned him the nickname ‘Skeeta, and he grew up to work in the local coal mines.
His life as a soccer player began with the team Weston Bears, for whom he played 461 games. He later played for Kurri Kurri and Mayfield, reaching a total of 552 senior games (although his family records record 574 games). This is believed to be an Australian record.
His soccer career spanned 24 seasons from 1931 to 1955, during which he scored 167 goals as a right winger.
Wilkinson's representative roles extended to more than 20 appearances for the North, 14 occasions for NSW and 16 internationals (eight of which had full status) against New Zealand, England, Palestine and China.
Wilkinson turned down many offers to play as a professional in England, maintaining his home in Weston. There are many testimonies recorded which indicate that he was held in high esteem, regarded as one of the finest soccer players Australia has produced.
Wilkinson was inducted into the Hunter Region Sporting Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Australian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2002. His accomplishments are recognised in several locations in the Weston and Kurri Kurri area.
He sadly passed away in 1984.