Left back Billy Dunlop was born in Hurlford, Ayrshire, played junior football for Sandyford in 1889 and Hurlford in 1890, before joining Annbank in 1891, Kilmarnock in 1892 and Abercorn in 1893, from where he was signed by Liverpool managers John McKenna and William Barclay in January 1895 for £35. He made his Football League debut in a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Sunderland on the 25th March 1895, a season which saw Liverpool relegated from the First Division.
He enjoyed his second season somewhat more as Liverpool gained promotion straight back to the First Division as Second Division Champions in 1896, playing in Liverpool’s first FA Cup semi final appearance as they lost to eventual winners Aston Villa at Bramall Lane in 1897. He was an ever present in 1898-99 when Liverpool again reached the FA Cup semi final, losing to eventual winners Sheffield United over three matches, a late Billy Beer goal at The Baseball Ground, Derby eventually settling the tie.
Dunlop’s early appearances for The Reds were sporadic but his loyalty and dedication paid off as from November 1897 he became a regular starter over a 10-year period which included the Anfield club’s first ever Football League Championship win in 1901, a feat they, and he, were to repeat in 1906, becoming League Champions back to back after winning the Second Division Championship in 1905, a season after they had again suffered relegation. Dunlop scored just twice for Liverpool his first coming on the 19th September 1903 in a 1-1 draw with Stoke at Anfield.
According to Liverpool’s match programme from 17th September 1904: “Dunlop plays a characteristic full-back game, and the familiar cry of on the Anfield ground ‘Boot it, Dunlop’ is fairly suggestive of his method of defence. There can be no two opinions of his ability to kick the ball from almost any position. Always keen and watchful on the field, he betrays his over-anxiety to repel the invader by his terrific lunges, and on his day, there is no more brilliant player than this same Dunlop. A better servant no club ever possessed, and though we may occasionally differ from him as to the methods he employs on the field, on one point we must all agree, that for downright single-mindedness of purpose Dunlop’s tactics have never been questioned.”
Dunlop earned a single international cap when he represented Scotland against England on 7th April 1906, a game Scotland won 2-1 in a British International Championship match at Hampden Park Glasgow. Dunlop’s Liverpool teammate Alex Raisbeck also played in the match captaining the Scots.
He played his last match for Liverpool in April 1909 having played 359 times over 15 seasons. In July 1911 he was appointed assistant trainer at Sunderland.