Bothwell, Lanarkshire born goalkeeper Bill Harper played junior football for Wishaw Juniors in 1920 from where he joined First Division Sunderland in 1921, making his Football League debut against Manchester City in January 1922. Initially sharing the gloves with Leslie Scott and James Dempster, he made 18 appearances in his debut season, but only 10 more in 1922-23 as Ed Robson became Sunderland’s undisputed number one. Harper joined Manchester City where he was understudy to Jim Goodchild and James Mitchell, making only 4 appearances in 1923-24 before moving on to join Crystal Palace in the 1924 close season.
He only missed one game in 1924-25, however Palace suffered relegation from the Second Division and Harper lost his place in November 1925 (possibly through injury). He joined Luton Town in the 1926 close season after 59 appearances for Palace, and had a single season at Kenilworth Road playing 34 times for The Hatters before joining non league Weymouth in the summer of 1927. He later played for Callender Athletic in 1928 before his eventual retirement.