Douglas Water, Lanarkshire born inside or centre forward Billy Welsh began his football career Lanark Technical College after the First World War and played for Douglas Water Thistle in 1921 from where he signed for Scottish League club Heart of Midlothian, making his Scottish League debut in a defeat to Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox in April 1923. After 4 goals in 17 appearances for The Jambos he joined Dundee United in October 1925 on loan, where he fared much better, before being recalled by Hearts and immediately signing permanently for The Arabs, scoring 21 goals in 61 appearances for Dundee United before being sold to Third Division (South) club Charlton Athletic for around £1,000 in May 1927.
Welsh made his Football League debut against Gillingham the same August, but lost his place the following campaign, playing only 4 times as Charlton won the Third Division (South) Championship in 1928-29 and was sold to Wigan Borough for £50 in December 1928 after 9 goals in 29 appearances for The Addicks. He was a regular in Borough’s team until being signed by Southport in March 1930 after scoring 16 goals in 57 appearances for Wigan, but his spell with The Sandgrounders was short and he joined Newport County in July the same year after scoring three times in 11 matches for Southport.
After failing to establish himself at Newport, he had a loan spell with non league Connah’s Quay & Shotton in November 1930 before being transferred to Wrexham in January 1931 after a single goal in 6 appearances for The Exiles, and he fared little better with The Dragons, scoring once in 9 matches during the remainder of the 1930-31 campaign. A move to Gateshead in July 1931 saw him produce the best season of his career. Scoring twice on his debut in a win at New Brighton, Welsh scored a hat-trick in a win over Rotherham United in December 1931 and scored 17 goals during the 1931-32 campaign as Gateshead finished runners up in the Third Division (North), narrowly missing out on promotion. However he lost his place after one match at the start of the 1933-34 season and joined Hartlepools United in January 1934 after 23 goals in 65 appearances for The Head. He played just 3 times for The Monkeyhangers before moving to non league Jarrow in the 1936 close season, his last recorded club before his eventual retirement.
NB the photograph was taken before the League match between Walsall and Gateshead at Fellows Park on 15th October 1932. Walsall won the match 2-0.