Bellshill, Lanarkshire born inside forward Willie Chalmers joined Bellshill in 1921 from where he signed for Scottish League amateur club Queen’s Park in 1922, making his Scottish League debut in a 3-0 win over Lochgelly United that December, playing 58 games and scoring 18 goals for The Spiders, including a hat-trick against East Fife in April 1923. His form at Hampden Park attracted the attentions of Glasgow Rangers manager Bill Struth, who took him to Ibrox in the summer of 1924. He made his debut in the Rangers first team in a 3-1 home win over Falkirk on 18th October 1924, scoring his first goal a fortnight later in a 4-0 home win over Partick Thistle. Ultimately though his Rangers career only yielded 26 first team appearances and seven goals from 1924 to 1928 as in 1926 he broke his leg playing for Rangers’ reserves.
He signed for his first English club on 16th March 1928 when former Rangers stalwart Andy Cunningham, who was now manager of Newcastle United, signed Chalmers for a £2,500 transfer fee. Known as a ‘character’ who enjoyed entering into banter with the fans he made his Football League debut against Leicester City on 7th April 1928, scoring on his debut in a 5-1 home defeat. Chalmers performed well in season 1928-29 netting eight goals in 19 appearances and he delighted the Newcastle crowd with flashes of brilliance, and went on to make 42 appearances and score 13 goals for the Tynesiders from 1928 to 1931.
In May 1931 Grimsby Town paid £1,000 for his services but he scored one goal in only six appearances for them as they were relegated from the First Division, before leaving for Bury in June 1932 and enjoyed arguably the most productive part of his career as he scored 23 times in 98 games during four seasons of Second Division football at Gigg Lane. In May 1936 he dropped down a league again as he signed for Notts County in the Third Division (South) where he was once again partnered with former Newcastle team mate Hughie Gallacher. His new side narrowly missed in promotion before sinking to eleventh the next years but he scored 18 goals in 66 games over two seasons before he moved to Aldershot in June 1938, where he scored 10 goals in 42 matches, forming a partnership on the right wing with another ex-team mate, George Rayner, with whom he had played at Bury.
In 1939 Chalmers became trainer at Aldershot during the Second World War, and then acting manager at a time when the team from the garrison town was filled with international players stationed there during their army service. In total he turned out 95 times for Aldershot scoring 33 goals before it seems he hung up his boots for good in 1943 as he moved to South Wales and became amanager of Ebbw Vale.
In 1948 Juventus were in need of a new manager as their former player Renato Cesarini decided to return home to Argentina after just one season in the hot seat with city rivals Torino dominating Serie A. According to Antonio Labbate of Calcio Itaila, youthful Juventus president Gianni Agnelli wanted a British coach after seeing England beat Italy 4-0 in a Turin friendly in May 1948. Presumably he hoped the club could return to playing the disciplined game they had under Edinburgh man George Aitken in the late ’20s. Agnelli turned to Chalmers but unfortunately things didn’t go well in Turin where he was considered to be eccentric and incompetent. He apparently used to train players while on trains and even in hotel corridors! However, the extra fitness did his players little good and they finished the season fourth as Torino once again lifted the title.
Chalmers returned to England that summer as former club Bury offered him a job as coach which he accepted and he was included in the team photo for the 1949-50 season. However, a year later he was gone and that was the end his career in football.