Birkdale born wing half Billy Watson started his football career with Blowick Wesleyans in 1906 and joined hometown club Southport Central in 1907, from where he was signed by Second Division Burnley in March 1909 for £200. He made his Football League debut in early April against Leeds City and the following season saw him play only 4 times but his breakthrough came in 1910 playing some 40 games a season for 5 seasons prior to the suspension of football due to World War One. Indeed, George Halley, Tommy Boyle and Watson was to become a celebrated half back line in Burnley’s history. Success followed. First promotion as Second Division runner’s up in 1913. After having played in a hundred consecutive League matches, Watson was presented with a gold watch and medal from the Burnley directors in May 1913. Then he was part of the FA Cup Final win over Liverpool in 1914, with Watson playing 8 times on their triumphant Cup run, the Final settled by a second half Bert Freeman strike at The Crystal Palace.
The first of his three England caps had already come a year earlier in a 1-0 win over Scotland at Stamford Bridge, the second is a surprise 3-0 reverse to Ireland at Ayresome Park in February 1914. The interruption of the First World War saw him serve his country in the Armed Forces, as well as appearing for Southport Central and Fulham as a wartime guest, however on resumption of League football Watson came back as strong as ever, playing in an England Victory International and winning his final England cap in October 1919 at Windsor Park, Belfast in a 1-1 draw against Ireland, and managing his only career ever present season in 1920-21 as Burnley, having finished as runners up to West Bromwich Albion in 1919-20, Burnley became League Champions in 1921 for the first time in their history, with Watson also playing in their FA Charity Shield defeat to Tottenham at the end of the season.
A commendable title defence followed in 1921-22 with The Clarets finishing third, however 1922-23 marked Watson’s last full season in the first team, his appearances from 1923 becoming more occasional, his final match of 380 came in September 1924 against Everton. He also scored 20 goals for Burnley in his career. In addition he represented The Football League on 5 occasions, once as captain. He had a brief spell with Accrington Stanley from May 1925 making 6 appearances for them over the 1925-26 season before retiring from the game.