Newcastle-upon-Tyne born goalkeeper Billy Bly began his football career with Walker Temperance and Walker Celtic before joining Hull City in August 1937, making his Football League debut at Rotherham United in April 1939, taking over from Jack Ellis for the last 8 matches of the season, which proved the last peacetime season before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, when Bly was still a teenager. During the War Bly guested for Dumbarton and Hamilton Academical in 1942-43 and represented the B.A.O.R on several occasions during his Army service.
Bly returned to Boothferry Park in 1946 and soon established himself in The Tigers’ first eleven, playing 45 matches during the campaign as they won the Third Division (North) Championship under Raich Carter’s management in 1948-49. He was selected for England B, but had to withdraw through injury. Even after Hull City were relegated from the Second Division in 1956, Bly remained their first choice goalkeeper for a further four seasons, helping them win promotion back to the Second Division in 1958 as runners up in the (new) Third Division, in a campaign in which he missed only one match. Noted for his courage, he is considered one of Hull City’s all time great players.
However back in the Second Division Bly lost his place in January 1960 and played only 3 more matches for Hull City in March before he was released by The Tigers at the end of the 1959-60 season, already aged 40 after 438 appearances over 21 years with the club, and he received a benefit match in October 1961, in which he featured. He had been keeping fit at the Brunswick Institute before joining Weymouth part-way through the 1961-62 season. He made his debut against Wellington Town on 11th November 1961 and played for the club for the remainder of the season.He then joined Hull Brunswick, who played in Division Two of the Yorkshire League, where he remained until his retirement. He thereafter joined the coaching staff.
As of November 2016, he is fourth on Hull City’s most League appearances list. Hull City and North Ferriby United contest the annual Billy Bly Memorial Trophy.