In 1892 Sheffield Wednesday joined the Football League Division One. After a successful first year at the club in the Football Alliance Fred Spiksley was now able to go toe-to-toe with the finest players in England every week. His reputation as a match winner continued to grow and it was not long before he received his first international cap, when he was called up as a late addition to the side which was to face Wales at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground on 13th March 1893.
At the peak of his career Fred Spiksley was a player who consistently performed to very top standard of the game week in week out. That said, when a crucial game came along he had the ability to step up and become unplayable, he was a big match player. His England debut would prove to be no different as the Welsh defenders could get nowhere near him as they watched England’s new outside-left score a hat-trick on debut in a 6-0 rout.
In scoring the hat-trick Fred also secured himself selection for the biggest match of the football calendar – England Vs Scotland and thus achieved the ultimate honour for an 1890’s footballer – gaining the Blue Cap.
Once again Spiksley was to rise to the occasion and achieve even higher heights by scoring a 10 minute second half hat-trick which took the game away from Scotland and won England a famous victory at the Richmond Athletic Ground by 5 goals to 2.
Spiksley would go on to represent England a total of seven times and scored seven times. His low total number of caps reflects the lack of international games at the time, a selection process that made professional footballers ineligible for one of the three international matches each year and a bad injury which curtailed Spiksley’s career.
His final game for England was at Celtic park in 1898. Spiksley was the second highest goalscorer in the football league and at the very peak of his game. After setting up the opening goal Spikelsy and Earnest Needham, of Sheffield United, combined to great effect and totally overwhelmed the Scottish backs. Scotland were outclassed and lost 3-1 to, what many people who were at the game considered to be, the finest England side to have ever played. Indeed journalists continued to compare future England sides against the 1898 side for almost three decades.
A serious knee injury in 1899 ultimately put an end Spiksley’s international career. Earnest Needham wrote in September that year that Spiksley had been England’s first choice for all of the Home International games but was unfit. A return to form during the 1902-03 Football League season sparked some excitement that Spiksley may return to the England side but, despite many considering him to be the best outside left that season, England’s selection committee made a more progressive selection. Despite this Spiksley was selected for a final representative honour when he played for the English League against the Scottish League two weeks later where he bagged himself the opening goal in a 3-1 away victory.