West Bromwich, Staffordshire born left half Cecil (nicknamed Cyril) Hornby began his football career with Oakengates Town, from where he was signed by First Division club Leeds United in May 1929, making his Football League debut at Leicester City in October 1930. After Leeds’ relegation at the end of the season, Hornby played 11 matches in their 1931-32 campaign as they finished Second Division runners up to win promotion at the first attempt.
Primarily a left half, he could fill a variety of roles and established himself as a solid First Division all-rounder. With the Edwards-Hart-Copping half back line together until the end of the 1933-34 season, there was little option for Hornby but to fill in when either Edwards or Copping were injured or if the likes of Billy Furness, Russell Wainscoat or Arthur Hydes were unavailable, before becoming a regular after the departure of Wilf Copping, playing 34 matches in 1934-35, until the arrival of Irish International Bobby Browne in late October 1935 again led to his return to the fringes. He played his last match for Leeds on 1st February 1936 in a 2-1 defeat by Grimsby Town at Elland Road, before joining Sunderland in that month after 5 goals in 89 appearances for Leeds, and he scored twice (playing at inside right) in 8 matches before the end of the season as Sunderland won the League Championship.
He stayed a further season at Roker Park making 13 appearances in total for The Wearsiders, scoring once more in an FA Cup win at Southampton in January 1937, his only involvement as Sunderland went on to win the FA Cup at Wembley later that season, when he returned to the Midlands and his old club, Oakengates Town as player-manager in July 1937. He later played for Brierley Hill Alliance in 1938 and Cradley Heath in 1939 before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 ended his playing days.