Langley Moor, County Durham born inside forward Bill Gardner had an extensive junior football career between 1908 and the First World War, playing for amongst others Durham City in 1911, Crook Town in 1912 and Bishop Auckland in 1913, but after the First World War he made his entrance to senior football when he signed for First Division Derby County in August 1920, making his Football League debut that August against Tottenham Hotspur, and scoring his only League goal, in 5 appearances, 2 weeks later in a 4-2 home defeat to Everton.
He joined Stockport County in August 1921 but couldn’t get into their first eleven, soon returning to the north east to join Spennymoor United later the same year. In March 1923 he returned to League action, joining Queen’s Park Rangers and making 2 appearances before the season end. He then moved to Ashington in July 1923, enjoying a very productive spell where for two seasons running he was the club’s top scorer, including a hat-trick against Rotherham on Christmas Day 1924, which led to Grimsby Town signing him in October 1925 after 43 goals in 90 appearances. At Grimsby he won the Third Division (North) Championship in 1925-26, although he was largely a fringe player, scoring 4 goals in 22 appearances over his two seasons at Blundell Park before joining Darlington in September 1927.
Back in the north east, the goals flowed again, 16 in 19 games including a hat-trick in February 1928 against Doncaster Rovers, and in June 1928 he joined Torquay United, where he scored 10 goals in 26 appearances. A return to the north with York City followed in July 1929, and in two seasons with The Minstermen he scored 28 goals in 57 appearances. He finally had spells with Crewe Alexandra (2 goals in 14 appearances in 1931-32) and Rochdale (1 appearance in September 1932) before retirement.