Dunfermline, Fife born goalkeeper Willie Paterson began his football career in junior football with Bungalow City of Rosyth in 1919 and Broomhall Swifts in 1920, before joining hometown professional club Dunfermline Athletic in 1921. After a loan spell in 1922 with Clydebank, he took the boat to play in the nascent US Soccer Leagues in 1924, playing with Boston Wonder Workers before returning to Dunfermline later the same year. He joined Jimmy Brownlie’s Dundee United in May 1925 and made 80 appearances for the Tannadice outfit.
In January 1928 he was signed by Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal, making his Football League debut against Derby County early the next month, and playing 15 times for the Arsenal first eleven through to May 1929 as understudy to Dan Lewis. He joined Airdrieonians in the 1929 close season and stayed with them for 3 seasons, before returning to Dundee United in 1932, where he finished his career.