Llanelli, Carmarthenshire born left back Billy Hughes began his football career with Archer Corinthians in 1933 and played for Watchers Celtic and Llanelli in 1934. After a trial with Swansea Town he signed for First Division Birmingham City in May 1935, making his senior debut in an FA Cup tie against Barnsley in January 1936 when still only 17, with his Football League debut coming three days later at home to Manchester City. Initially a fringe player, he broke into the first eleven on a regular basis from August 1937, however the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 proved a significant interruption to his career.
Hughes made his international debut for Wales in a 2-1 win over Scotland at Ninian Park, Cardiff on 30th October 1937, aged only 19 and played alongside Birmingham clubmates Seymour Morris and Dai Richards. From that match until the outbreak of the Second World War, Hughes was an ever present in the Welsh side. He also played in 14 of Wales’ 17 wartime and Victory internationals, and later captained his country during the 1947 British Home Championship.
During the War he made 49 wartime league appearances for Birmingham. While serving in the Royal Air Force he also made guest appearances for Blackpool, Swansea Town, Fulham and Chester. In 1944 he toured France and Belgium with an FA Combined Services XI. On 25th November 1944 he also played for a Royal Air Force XI in a 7-1 defeat against Scotland at Hillsborough,. His teammates on the day included, among others, Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Raich Carter and Frank Soo. In May 1947 he also played for a Great Britain XI against a Rest of Europe XI at Hampden Park, Glasgow to celebrate the return of the Home Nations to FIFA.
In all he played 114 senior matches for Birmingham both sides of the War before joining Luton Town in July 1947, but after 34 appearances for The Hatters they sold him to Chelsea for £12,000 the following March, for whom he made 105 appearances over the next three seasons. He then moved to Hereford United, who were then playing in the Southern League, in the summer of 1951 followed by Flint Town United in 1953, with whom he won his only major club honour, the Welsh Cup, in 1954.
After retiring from playing, Hughes scouted for Chester.