Burnley, Lancashire born goalkeeper Charlie Hillam began his football career with Clitheroe in the late 1920’s and joined Third Division (North) club Nelson as an amateur in August 1930, making his Football League debut at Barrow in April 1931, playing 3 matches for The Admirals that month as they slumped towards the bottom of the division, subsequently failing to get re-elected and losing their League status. Hillam returned to Clitheroe before joining Second Division hometown club Burnley, still an amateur, in May 1932, playing 21 matches for Burnley over the course of the season having taken over the gloves from Herman Conway in at the end of October 1932.
In May 1933, Hillam turned professional with Manchester United, and started the season in goal for the first 7 matches before losing his place. He was then understudy to Jack Hacking and Jack Hall, playing only one more match the following March as United narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division. In May 1934 Hillam joined Third Division (South) club Clapton Orient, and displaced incumbent goalkeeper Alf Robinson at the end of February 1935, thereafter he was ever present in The O’s goal until December 1937, playing 125 consecutive matches before losing his place to Jake Iceton. He returned to Orient’s goal between late January and early March but played only once more before the season end as Iceton was again preferred.
Hillam joined Southend United in June 1938 after 138 appearances for Clapton Orient, Initially in The Shrimpers goal, he had lost his place in October to Ted Hankey but reclaimed the gloves in April, and played in all 3 of the subsequently abandoned matches at the start of the 1939-40 season before the outbreak of the Second World War forced the abandonment of peacetime football in September 1939, by when Hillam had made 17 appearances for Southern United. After the War he played in local Essex football for Ekco Sports in 1946 and Chingford Town in 1948 before his eventual retirement.