Billy Watson's story isn't just one of footballing prowess, but it's about a man who committed himself wholeheartedly to whatever path he chose, whether it be on the pitch, as a tradesman, or in public service.
From the coastal town of Birkdale in Southport, Billy's initial foray into the world of football started with his hometown team. But it was his transition to Burnley in 1907 that would come to define his footballing legacy. Even though it took time for him to secure his position as left half, once he did, there was no looking back. Billy became synonymous with consistency, a quality often under-appreciated but always valued in the world of football.
During his tenure at Burnley, Billy witnessed and played a significant role in some of the club's most memorable moments. From the glory of FA Cup and League Championship victories to the daunting challenge of earning promotion from the Second Division, and the sheer determination displayed during the record 30-game undefeated run, Watson was at the heart of it all. This era of success, however, was punctuated by the devastation of the First World War, a period that altered many footballing careers, including Watson's.
Despite his immense contribution to Burnley and English football, one wonders if the count of his international caps for England might have been higher if not for the disruptions caused by the war. Nonetheless, his commitment to the game never wavered.
His dedication was evident when, after hanging up his boots as a professional player, Billy transitioned seamlessly into a coaching role. First, with Accrington, and later with Blackburn, where he further showcased his footballing acumen by captaining the Rovers A side.
But Billy Watson wasn't just a football man. Post his footballing career, he dabbled in various trades, from ironmongery to painting, proving his versatility and adaptability. However, his commitment to public service showcased yet another dimension of his persona. As a local councillor, he dedicated himself to the betterment of his community in Birkdale, bringing the same tenacity and dedication he displayed on the pitch.
Billy's journey from the football fields of Burnley to the council chambers of Birkdale is a testament to a life lived fully and diversely. His passing on 01 September 1955 marked the end of an era, but the legacy of Billy Watson, the footballer, the tradesman, and the public servant, continues to inspire.