Local boy Bill Whitaker joined Chesterfield on amateur forms in April, 1941. His status as a miner meant that he was not called up for military service, and he was thus able to stay and play, rather than be sent overseas in His Majesty's forces. He put his name to a professional form in August 1942 and took a regular place at the centre of Chesterfield's halfback line as the war drew to a close..

Tall, wiry and commanding, he lost his place through injury and was a reserve when Middlesbrough stepped in to break the record for a fee received by Chesterfield. The club had a number of quality centre-halves on their books at the time and could afford to cash in on his promise, so ‘Boro's offer of £9,500 was readily accepted in June 1947.


Billy had played only 13 Football League games by then, but he'd played 167 times during the war, so 'Boro knew they were getting an experienced man. Knee ligament damage hampered the rest of his professional career, but, when fit, he was an important member of a good Boro' side, and represented the Football League against the Irish League in 1950. He completed 177 League games for Middlesbrough before moving into the non-league game at King's Lynn, briefly, and Gainsborough Trinity. Upon joining Gainsborough, Billy returned to a job down the mines and saw out his football career with the Creswell Colliery side. He settled in his native Chesterfield upon retirement.


For Chesterfield: 13 League appearances. (167 more in wartime football)