Plymouth, Devon born goalkeeper William Horne served in South Africa with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, for whom he also played football, before returning to make a name for himself in local football. He played for Tavistock and Essa, and then joined Southern League Plymouth Argyle on amateur terms in January 1904. Signing a professional contract two months later, he made his debut at Luton Town in January 1904, making three appearances as understudy to Jack Robinson that season.
Ironically known as ‘Tich’ due to his size, Horne became the first choice ‘keeper for the next campaign but eventually lost his place following the arrival of England international John Sutcliffe. Other than a year spent with Fulham in 1906-07, where he was understudy to Jack Fryer as they won the Southern League Championship, Horne making 2 appearances for The Cottagers, Horne served as back up to Sutcliffe at Plymouth Argyle for a further five seasons. During this time he was greatly in demand from other clubs but remained loyal to his home town and was rewarded when he took over as Argyle’s number one in 1911.
The Argyle handbook of 1913-14 states that he “carries his 15 stone with the agility of a 3-year-old and none can tell us of a more reliable custodian. His record proves him the best in the United Kingdom”. He remained the first choice until the 1914-15 season after which his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, during which he served in the Armed Forces. Despite still being on Argyle’s books until 1920, he did not play again after hostilities ended and eventually retired due to ill health having made 240 appearances for Plymouth Argyle.