Born in Buckie, Banffshire, right half Billy Milne started his career at his hometown club Buckie Thistle in the Scottish Highland Football League in 1914, although his career was interrupted early on by World War One. During the War, Milne served with the Seaforth Highlanders in Franceand won the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1918. After hostilities ceased, Milne returned to Buckie Thistle, where he made a name for himself as a tireless and enthusiastic wing half.
In September 1921 he made the long journey south by train (Great North of Scotland Railway) from Buckie to join London side Arsenal. Milne made his debut for Arsenal at Cardiff City on 27th December 1921, but only played another four games that season. However, the following season he became an established regular in the Arsenal side and continued to play there for another four seasons. However, after the arrival of Alf Baker he was dropped; he was a bit-part player for the next few seasons, but in a match against Huddersfield Town on 2nd April 1927 he broke his leg and his playing career was effectively finished. In all he played 124 times for Arsenal, scoring three goals.
Milne’s tenaciousness and high levels of fitness led Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman to retain Milne’s services, appointing him as assistant trainer to Tom Whittaker. During World War Two he was stationed as an ARP warden at Highbury and was present the night the stadium was bombed with incendiary devices; Milne helped put out the resulting fire and to save the stadium from even more serious damage.
Milne continued to hold the assistant trainer’s position until Whittaker himself became Arsenal manager in 1947, upon which Milne became first-team trainer, and later club physiotherapist; he also served the England team in a similar capacity. He fully retired in 1960 and was succeeded by Bertie Mee, who would later become Arsenal’s Double-winning manager.