The elder brother of the legendary Elisha, Belfast born goalkeeper “Peerless” Billy Scott also stands out as one of the outstanding ‘keepers in the history of Irish football. Having started his career as an amateur with Cliftonville in 1901, Scott went on to win Inter-League and International caps after moving to Linfield in 1902. After making his Blues debut in an Irish League match with Distillery on the 31 August 1931, Scott was ever-present over three seasons aside from missing a single Co. Antrim Shield tie in January 1903 through injury, winning The Irish League and Irish Cup double with The Blues in 1902 and 1904 as well as several more minor honours. He first played for The Irish League against The Scottish League in a 1-0 win at Grosvenor Park, Belfast in February 1903, and won two more Irish League caps over the next year, having made his Irish international debut two weeks earlier in a 4-0 defeat to England at Molineux.
In his second international outing the following month Scott was part of the Irish team that defeated Scotland for the first time. After a jittery start to the match he put in a performance which combined luck and fine judgement to keep a clean-sheet in a 2-0 win at Parkhead. He remained Ireland’s regular custodian for a decade in which time another win over Scotland and a first win over England were recorded. During his 25 cap international career he was also given the honour of captaining his country on a number of occasions.
Signed by Everton in the close season of 1904, Scott made his Football League debut at Notts County that September but had a difficult first season at Goodison, conceding seventeen goals in the first twelve games before being replaced in November by Welsh international, Leigh Roose. The pair went on to share goalkeeping responsibilities for much of the rest of the season as Everton finished as League runners-up, a single point behind Newcastle.
The following season saw Scott make the ‘keeper’s jersey his own, as Everton won the 1906 FA Cup Final, 1-0 against Newcastle at The Crystal Palace. 1906-07 saw Scott play in the FA Cup Final again, this time Everton lost out 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at the same venue. Those proved to be Scott’s only honours in English football, though Everton did finish as League runners-up on a further two occassions during his spell with the club, in 1908-09 and 1911-12. Noted for his safe hands and reliability between the posts, when Scott left Everon in 1912 after 289 appearances for The Toffees he proved an exceptionally difficult man to replace.
In June 1912 Scott was signed by Herbert Chapman for Leeds City who were attempting to build a team to escape the Second Division. It was a move that became shrouded in controversy as Chapman agreed to pay Scott a full year’s salary of £208 to April 1913, essentially two months extra wages, and well above the permitted £4 per week. Leeds were fined and the player instructed to return the excess payments.
1913-14 turned out to be Billy Scott’s final season in the Football League, Scott making just two appearances to add to his 24 the previous season, as Leeds once again failed to make it out of Division Two. They finished in fourth place, just two points behind Bradford Park Avenue, who were promoted as runners-up, but with a far superior goal difference. One of the most damaging results came on 2nd March with Scott in goal in an away match to Clapton Orient which kicked-off at 4:30pm. In those pre-floodlit days it was inevitable that the game would finish in semi-darkness, and Scott claimed that he was unable to see the last two goals scored against him in a 3-1 defeat. Leeds City appealed to the Football League to have the game replayed, without success.
During the First World War Scott was on the books at Liverpool making 29 appearances in wartime league fixtures in 1918-19. At the time Leeds City folded in October 1919 he was at Anfield on a loan basis as reserve team ‘keeper. Billy’s biggest contribution to football had to be bringing the young Elisha to Merseyside for trials with Everton and then introducing him to Liverpool, and setting him on the road to “legend” status. Another goalkeeping brother was John, also briefly on the books at Anfield.