Inside forward Billy Stage was born in Whitby in North Yorkshire and started his football career with junior club Willington in 1912 joined nearby Middlesbrough in April 1913 as an amateur, signing a professional contract in December 1913 and making his Football League debut at Burnley in April 1914. He only made three appearances for ‘Boro before World War One caused League football to be suspended.
After the wWar, he joined Scottish club Hibernian, making his Scottish League debut at the start of the 1919-20 season. He played in every Hibs match during that season, scoring four League goals, plus one in the Cup. Despite having been “ever-present”, Stage left Hibernian at the end of the season and joined St Bernard’s of the Scottish Central League. St Bernard’s were re-admitted to the Second Division in 1921.
In October 1921, Stage returned to England to join Bury, then playing in the Football League Second Division. In 1924, Stage was part of the Bury team that gained the runners-up position, thus earning promotion to the First Division. Stage went on to become captain of the club, winning the Lancashire Cup in 1926. Hard working, he was described as “a fetcher and forager on the field”.
In June 1928, after scoring 33 goals in 213 appearances for Bury, Stage joined First Division rivals Burnley where he remained for two seasons before dropping into the Second Division when he joined Southampton in July 1930 after 2 goals in 28 Clarets appearances. By now nearing the end of his career, Stage spent a year at The Dell, mostly assisting the reserves but scoring once in his four first team appearances which came on his final professional appearance on 22nd November 1930, when he scored in a 3–1 defeat at Charlton Athletic. He joined non league Darwen in 1931 playing for Rossendale United and Fleetwood in 1932 before retirement.