Born in Kerry Cowdie, Lanarkshire, goalkeeper Willie White played for Bedlay Juniors in 1914 before joining Hamilton Academical in 1919, from where he joined Scottish First Division club Heart of Midlothian in the summer of 1922 where his younger brother John was already playing, making his debut that August against St Bernard’s. During his time with Hearts he made four appearances for the Scottish League between 1923 and 1926. His six years at Tynecastle saw him make 172 League and Cup appearances, and his departure to Southampton in July 1928 infuriated the Jambos fans.
White joined Southampton for a transfer fee of £800, of which £375 was contributed by the Southampton Supporters Club, replacing Tommy Allen who had moved on in the summer. White was described as “very much a student of the game”, who concentrated for the full 90 minutes of every game. He made his debut away to Hull City on 25th August 1928 and his arrival helped restore confidence in a defence that had leaked 77 goals in the previous season. He only missed two matches in the 1928-29 season at the end of which The Saints achieved their highest league finish to date, fourth in the Second Division, with 60 goals conceded.
In the following season, White retained his place but the defence again conceded goals regularly, including four or more in six matches, ending the season with a “goals against” total of 76, and a seventh-place finish. In September 1930, he lost his place to Bert Scriven and although White regained his place in goal for the last eight matches of the season, Scriven claimed the No. 1 shirt on a permanent basis in September 1931.
At the end of the 1931-32, White left Southampton after 103 appearances for a brief (non-playing) spell with Aldershot, who had recently been elected to the Third Division (South). He later played non league football for Weymouth in 1933 and Wellington Town in 1934 before retiring.
Willie White was one of four brothers who all played professional football. Besides younger brother and Scottish international John “Jock” White who played for Hearts and Leeds United, his brother Thomas played for Motherwell and James for Alloa Athletic.