Craghead, County Durham born centre half Bill Cockburn signed for Third Division (North) club Stockport County in 1921 from junior club Rosehill Villa, and made his Football League debut at Halifax Town in December that year, playing only once more during the rest of the season as Stockport won the League to gain promotion. After breaking into The Hatters’ first team the following September, he acquitted himself so well over the next two seasons at Edgeley Park that none other than twice recent League Champions Liverpool came in to sign him for £2,000 in May 1924 after 76 appearances for Stockport County.
Having established himself at Liverpool he played 37 League matches in his second season, and The Telegraph praised him as follows in 1926: “He’s a tall man, now in his prime, great in breaking up, and wonderfully accurate with his long swinging passes to the wings”. However he lost his place after 8 games of the 1926-27 season and only played once more a week before Christmas, spending a further year on the sidelines at Anfield before a move to Queen’s Park Rangers in August 1928 after 67 appearances for The Reds.
There followed 62 appearances for Rangers over the next two seasons at Loftus Road, before Cockburn moved to Swindon Town in July 1930. He only played one season, a full one with 38 appearances, but he did mark his spell with his only senior goal in a defeat at Bristol Rovers in November 1930, before retiring in 1931.