Gateshead, County Durham born left half Bill Dodgin Sr. began his football career with Gateshead High Fell and played for Kirkley & Waveney in 1927 and Wallsend in 1928, from where he was signed by Huddersfield Town in October 1929, making his Football League debut at West Ham United in August 1930. That proved his only appearance of his breakthrough season and he made 9 further appearances over the next two seasons for The Terriers before signing for Second Division club Lincoln City in March 1933, helping them to avoid relegation at the season end.
However after Lincoln suffered that fate the next season, Dodgin left Sincil Bank having scored once in 46 appearances and joined Charlton Athletic in August 1934. At Charlton he won the Third Division (South) Championship in 1934-35 but soon lost his place at the higher level, playing only 5 matches in their 1935-36 campaign, joining Bristol Rovers in May 1936 after 32 appearances for The Addicks. He scored once in 36 appearances for The Pirates during their 1936-37 campaign but moved on again, returning to London to join Clapton Orient in July 1937.
Dodgin scored once for The O’s in 66 appearances as they struggled towards the foot of the Third Division (South) table during two seasons at the new Brisbane Road ground, and in June 1939 he joined Second Division club Southampton, playing twice for The Saints before the outbreak of the Second World forced the abandonment of peacetime football in September 1939. After the War he became Southampton’s manager in January 1946 and played 4 matches for them during their 1946 FA Cup campaign before retiring to concentrate on management.
He remained Southampton’s manager until August 1949, leading them to successive third place finishes in the Second Division but narrowly missing out on promotion each season, when he joined Fulham, who were struggling in the lower reaches of the First Division, and he couldn’t prevent their relegation in 1952, and after their failure to gain promotion in 1953 and a poor start to 1953-54 he left to take up the reins at Brentford in October 1953, although they were relegated from the Second Division at the end of the 1953-54 campaign. He remained the manager at Griffin Park until May 1957, when he spent a season as manager of Italian club Sampdoria.
He returned to England and became manager of non league club Yiewsley (now Hillingdon Borough), and returned to management in August 1969 when he became manager of Third Division former club Bristol Rovers, spending three seasons as their manager before retiring in July 1972. In two of those seasons he managed against his son, Bill Dodgin Jr., who was manager of Third Division club Fulham.
Dodgin’s son Bill Jr. was also a footballer and an England U-23 international, who played under his father at Southampton and Fulham, also playing some 200 matches for Arsenal throughout the 1950’s, going on to have an extensive career in football management in the 1970’s and 1980’s with Queen’s Park Rangers, Fulham, Northampton Town and Brentford.