Garforth, Leeds born inside forward (who played in all three inside forward positions) Billy Howson began his football career after the First World War, signing for Midland League club Castleford Town in 1919, from where he was signed by First Division club Bradford City in the 1920 close season, making his Football League debut at Huddersfield Town that September. He soon established himself as a first team regular in his debut season, scoring 11 goals in 31 appearances, but lost his place in March 1922 as Bradford City were relegated at the season end. Howson played only 8 matches in September and October 1922 in their Second Division campaign before losing his place, 6 of the 8 matches having been lost.
After 21 goals in 64 appearances for The Bantams, he signed for Second Division club Oldham Athletic in the 1923 close season, but he lost his place in February 1924 and joined Third Division (North) club Halifax Town after 5 goals in 23 appearances for The Latics. At Halifax he was joint top scorer in their 1924-25 campaign with 12 goals, along with Ernie Dixon and Arthur Seabrook, but after scoring a Boxing Day hat-trick in a win over Walsall in December 1925, he lost his place the following month, most likely suffering a career ending injury, and never played football again having scored 18 goals in 49 matches for Halifax Town.