Down: William (Billy)
Born: Ryehope, Nr Sunderland: 22-01-1898
Debut v Port Vale (a): 28-08-1920
5’9” 11st 7lb (1922)
He was signed from Ashington in July 1920. Down kept goal in United’s first Football
League fixture and was ever-present in their debut season. Despite losing his place to
Fred Whalley in 1921-22, he battled back and was able to recapture his position for most
of United’s 1923-24 Division Two Championship-winning campaign. He moved to Doncaster
Rovers in September 1925, where he made fifty appearances, before joining Burnley in
September 1927, on a month’s trial. He was first choice at Turf Moor until November 1929
when he suffered a haemorrhage of his left kidney after a collision in a "robust challenge"
during a "local derby" match against Blackburn Rovers. He collapsed on the way home and was
seriously ill in hospital. He had made eighty appearances, but he never played for Burnley
again. However, after a brief spell at Torquay United, he joined Wigan Borough for an
equally brief trial, where he played just two games, in December 1930. During World War One
he was in the mine-sweeping service. He died in Northumberland in the summer of 1977.