West Bromwich, Staffordshire born centre forward Billy Hughes began his football career with Stourbridge, from where he was signed by Second Division club Bolton Wanderers in 1908, making his Football League debut against Oldham Athletic in December that year, scoring in a 3-0 victory. Hughes’ tally for his debut season of 16 goals in only 22 matches saw him finish as Bolton’s top goalscorer in 1908-09, helping them to an immediate return to the First Division as Second Division Champions. He remained Bolton’s top goalscorer in 1909-10 with 12 goals, however Bolton were immediately relegated at the end of the season.
Back in the Second Division in 1910-11, Hughes again proved a prolific and deadly goal getter and the club’s top scorer for the third season in succession with 21 goals in 29 matches as Bolton again achieved immediate promotion back to the top flight, Hughes scoring hat-tricks against West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham and Leicester Fosse as The Trotters finished runners up in the Second Division. It’s possible that he suffered an injury in mid April in the run in to promotion, as suddenly he lost his place and the following month Bolton Wanderers signed Derby County centre forward Alf Bentley for £1,000, a considerable fee.
With Bentley at the club, the following season he didn’t appear until Christmas Day and although he played 13 matches through to April he didn’t find the net once as Bolton finished an excellent fourth place in the League Championship. He again didn’t appear until after Christmas in 1912-13 and scored twice in 7 matches before a move to Second Division Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1913 close season, after 51 goals in 102 appearances for Bolton Wanderers. He had a single season at Molineux, where he scored 10 goals in 22 appearances in old gold and black through to April 1914, retiring from professional football soon thereafter.