Hebburn, County Durham born centre forward Billy McLeod started his football career with Hebburn Argyle in 1904 and Peebles Rovers in 1905 before joining Second Division Lincoln City for £25 in June 1906, where he made his Football League debut at Burton United in September 1906, scoring twice in a 4-3 victory. He came to the notice of Leeds City when he scored the Lincoln goal in the 1-1 draw at Elland Road on 10th September 1906 and also at Sincil Bank in another 1-1 draw on 29th September 1906. After only 13 games for The Imps, during which he scored 8 times, he was signed by Leeds City in November 1906 for £350.
He possessed a strong shot in either foot and showed heroic tendencies with his head when getting on the end of crosses. McLeod played more games and scored more goals than any other Leeds City player and was top scorer in nine successive seasons. He soon became the mainstay of the Leeds City attack, scoring 28 goals in each of the 1912-13 and 1913-14 seasons, and in his 9 seasons prior to the First World War never scored less than 14 times in any one season. His five goals at Hull City in a 6-2 win on 16th January 1915 is an individual scoring record for Leeds City and was only equalled by Gordon Hodgson when playing for Leeds United. He also scored four goals in an 8-0 home win over Nottingham Forest on 29th November 1913, as well as scoring four other hat-tricks, the last of which came in a 4-2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in his, and the club’s, final game in October 1919.
He twice came close to English representative honours. He was a non-playing reserve for England’s game against Wales in Cardiff in March 1914 and occupied a similar position when The Football League played The Scottish League that year.
McLeod guested for Bradford Park Avenue during World War One and “in that time he scored six goals in twenty-four appearances in the 1915-16 season and topped the Avenue goalscorers the following season with twenty goals from twenty-six appearances”. He also occasionally continued to play wartime football for Leeds City.
By the time Leeds City folded in October 1919 he had scored 178 goals in 301 appearances and he was auctioned off with the rest of the squad at the Hotel Metropole in October 1919. Having already scored 9 goals in 8 games, he brought the highest bid of all their players, from First Division Notts County of £1,250, and he duly joined them, however he couldn’t stop them being relegated by the end of the season, and he left Meadow Lane for Midland League Doncaster Rovers in the close season of 1921 after 12 goals in 43 appearances for The Magpies, already aged 34, where he finished his career.
NB This photograph was taken on 7th February 1920 v Bradford Park Avenue at Meadow Lane, Notts lost the match 2-0. Jack Foster joined Luton Town at the end of the 1919-20 season, which confirms that the 1920-21 label at the bottom of the image is incorrect. The three players standing “behind” were not part of the line up and have been “doctored” into the image.