Birmingham born inside left Billy Lake began his football career with Yardley White Star from where he joined Third Division (South) club Walsall in 1927, making his Football League debut at Brentford that December, scoring in a 3-2 defeat. He then scored twice on his home debut five days later in a 4-0 victory over Torquay United. After playing 9 further matches for Walsall in the new season, he was signed by Coventry City in November 1928, and although his first few months with Coventry were relatively quiet by comparison, he burst onto the scene with 18 goals in his first full season, finishing as Coventry’s joint second highest goalscorer behind Jimmy Loughlin.
He followed up that success in 1930-31 with 22 goals including 4 in a 5-1 win over Bristol Rovers in March 1931, finishing the season as The Sky Blues’ leading scorer, In 1931-32 he scored a hat-trick in a 5-5 draw with Fulham the day after New Year, but was overshadowed in the goals list by Clarrie Bourton’s incredible 50 goal haul, , and he returned 20 goals in their 1932-33 campaign including a hat-trick in a 7-0 thrashing of Queen’s Park Rangers in March 1933, but his total was again overshadowed by Bourton’s 44 strikes.
Coventry’s improvement began to show in their League position, and Lake scored 19 goals in their 1933-34 campaign as they finished runners up, although by the time they won the Third Division (South) Championship in 1935-36, Lake was no longer guaranteed a first team place, playing 18 times in the League that season and scoring four goals. In the Second Division he became a fringe player, making his last appearance for Coventry in April 1939, and he retired with the onset of the Second World War having scored an impressive 129 goals in 255 appearances for Coventry City.
NB in the photograph Lake stands on the right with fellow Coventry forward Leslie Jones.