Eccleston, Lancashire born goalkeeper Billy Hayes joined Second Division Preston North End in 1913 from his local Eccleston club, making his Football League debut in September 1914 against Huddersfield Town. After only 10 matches his Preston career was cut short by the First World War, during which he served in the Armed Forces.
After the War he joined Brighton & Hove Albion, where he played in their inaugural Football League fixture at Southend United in August 1920. He missed a single match on 29th September 1920 during their first League season and he was then ever present for the next three seasons, a run of 175 consecutive matches for Brighton followed by 52 straight matches for Southend United, whom he joined in the summer of 1924 and for whom he was also ever present in 1924-25. In total he made 182 appearances for Brighton and 54 for Southend before a move to Accrington Stanley in the summer of 1926.
He missed only one of Stanley’s 46 matches in 1926-27 but moved to Stockport County in 1927 where he managed 18 appearances before joining non league Winsford United a year later. After a spell at Burscough Rangers in 1929 he also played two seasons for ex League club Stalybridge Celtic, joining them later the same year, before finishing his career with Bacup Borough, his last known club before his eventual retirement.