Alva, Clackmannanshire born outside left Billy Hunter is certainly as well remembered for his football management career as for his prowess as a player, albeit he enjoyed considerable success as a player. As a player his early career is somewhat of a mystery but he began his senior career by joining Southern League club Millwall Athletic in 1904, where he scored 43 goals in 150 appearances over nearly five seasons at The Den. Hunter was signed by Second Division club Bolton Wanderers in January 1909, and of the eleven games Bolton played with Hunter in the line up towards the end of that season, they only drew one and won the rest, as The Trotters claimed the Second Division Championship and a swift return to top flight football after their relegation in 1908.
Back in the top flight Hunter was a regular in the first eleven and finished as second top scorer behind Billy Hughes with 10 goals in their 1909-10 campaign, however it again ended in Bolton’s relegation, and whether through injury (most likely) he only played 11 further matches over the next two seasons for The Trotters, 7 as they again won promotion in 1910-11, this time as Second Division runners up. He played his final games for Bolton in the top flight in September and October 1911, retiring after 16 goals in 55 appearances for Bolton Wanderers, before joining the likes of Jimmy Hogan as one of the UK’s best known overseas football managers, Hogan having left to manage in Holland a year earlier.
Hunter initially became manager of Dutch club Dordrecht in 1912, winning the KNVB Cup in 1914 and that same year also took charge of the Dutch international squad; a loss and a win against Belgium, a draw against Germany and an away win in Copenhagen.
Of course the First World War which erupted in August 1914 proved disruptive for football everywhere. Holland’s next international matches would not be until 1919. Where Hunter was in those years is unclear. Perhaps he simply returned to the pits. It would have been a reserved occupation. But it is more likely he enlisted and was posted away. He achieved a return to football management in 1921 but again abroad, first in Austria with Hakoah Vienna, finishing second in its league, and then with Lausanne Sports in Switzerland in 1922. There he would stay a season and again finish second behind Servette in the West Division, a position higher than the club had achieved the previous year.
And perhaps again he was helped by Jimmy Hogan. Hogan had coached Young Boys in Berne from 1918 to 1920 and appears still to have been in or around Switzerland. In 1924 Hogan was recruited by Teddy Duckworth, who had played for Blackburn Rovers as had Hogan at hometown club Burnley, and they were joined by the Hungarian, Dori Kruschner, who Hogan had during the War coached at MTK in Hungary, the three taking the Swiss team to the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, indeed to the Silver medal, this as Hunter had also been recruited to go to the same competition also as the coach but of Turkey, a position Hunter held from 1924 to 1926.
So it was that on 25th May 1924 Turkey took on Czechoslovakia. It was a team part coached by another Scot, former Scottish international, Jake Madden. And it was Madden’s charges that came off better. They would be three up in 37 minutes and then be in control throughout. Turkey scored twice but were eliminated as their opponents hit five.
However, following the Games, other results were not bad. Over two years there were victories over Finland, Estonia and Latvia and Romania all away plus Bulgaria at home. It was really only against the USSR and Poland that there was struggle, two games played away in 1924, the two at home the next year, all lost, at which point Hunter turned his full attention to the club he had been managing at the same time since arriving in Turkey in 1924, Galatasary.
On arrival the Istanbul club had ended the previous season as runners up to Betsikas in the newly formed Istanbul League. In Hunter’s first year, 1924-25, Betsikas was beaten 6-1 in the semi-final and the Championship taken. Then in 1925-26 it was Fenerbahce that was trounced by the same score on aggregate in the Final and it would be the same result the following season, at which point something seems to have gone wrong, not with Hunter but the league itself. If it had started it seems never to finish, perhaps because of demands placed on its major teams by participation in the 1928 Olympic Games, for which Hunter was overlooked in favour of the Hungarian, Bela Toth. Seven of the nineteen squad were from Hunter’s club and eight from Fenerbahce.
On 28th May 1928 Toth’s Turkey was thrashed 1-7 by Egypt in the only game it played, by which time Hunter may well have been on his way from Istanbul but not back to Britain, at least not to stay. On the 23rd November that same year he left Southampton, with Constantinople, Turkey given as his previous address. He travelled as a Football Coach and he was heading for America, presumably to find work in what seemed at the time to be a booming game in the nascent North American leagues. And it was there he stayed, but his timing could not have been worse. The aftermath of the American Soccer Wars and the Wall Street Crash caused the partial collapse by 1930 of the professional game there and its total implosion by 1934, so ending his football career.