Born in Chesterfield in 1924, Billy Linacre came through the junior ranks during the second world war. Although ostensibly a right-winger, "Legs" often took on a roving brief on the pitch. Brilliantly unorthodox, he was capable of quite unpredictable flashes of baffling skill and, during the war years at least, he enjoyed a good scoring record for a wingman. He joined the Spireites on amateur forms in late 1941 and turned semi-pro in February '44, completing his progress to full professional status as the war drew to a close.

He broke a leg in November 1945 (Club minute-books suggest he did this playing without permission for Bolsover Colliery!) and broke it again ten months later, in only the second match of the '46-7 season. His unfortunate record with injuries did not put the nation's leading clubs off, though, and Manchester City made a succesful £8,000 bid for him in October 1947. Two very tidy players - Tommy Capel and Peter Robinson - came the other way as part of a deal that when reckoned up for cash, must have come close to the British transfer record at the time. 

Billy enjoyed two injury-free seasons at Maine Road before Middlesbrough added £2,000 to that earlier fee and took him to Ayrsome Park. There, however, his bad luck returned and two more leg-breaks in three years saw him released to Goole Town.

Hartlepool offered him a way back into the league at the age of 29 and he enjoyed two good years there before spending his last League season at Field Mill. The Linacre connection with Hartlepool continued with his sons Phil and John, who were both on United's books.

For Chesterfield: 22 league appearances, 3 goals.

(101 appearances / 40 goals in wartime football.)

My thanks to Geoff Barber for this 1945 magazine article about Billy.