Billy Russell (footballer, born 1935)
|Full name||William Russell|
|Date of birth||7 July 1935|
|Place of birth||Hounslow, London, England|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Playing position||Outside / Inside right|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
William Russell (born 7 July 1935) is a former footballer who played as an inside or outside right. Born in Hounslow in London he began his career with Rhyl before playing top-flight football for Sheffield United. After leaving United he had spells at Bolton Wanderers, Rochdale, Scarborough and was playing for Chorley when forced to retire through injury. Initially playing as an amateur Russell was capped four times by the England amateur side before turning professional in 1957.
Russell was playing as an amateur with Rhyl when he was spotted by Sheffield United manager Joe Mercer who duly signed him in August 1957 on similar amateur terms. After impressing in the reserve team, Russell was handed his full debut whilst still an amateur, scoring United's only goal in a 3–1 defeat by Charlton Athletic at the end of August.
Following his successful transition to league football Russell signed professional terms with Rhyl in November 1957, allowing them to claim a fee of £1,000 from United, plus the gate receipts from two games played between the two sides. Despite his new professional status, Russell continued as a part-time player, combining football with his teaching career.
Described locally as fast, with an accurate shot, he would work hard in midfield before breaking forward and creating opportunities for his teammates. After missing most of the 1959–60 season with a broken leg, Russell returned to the side the following year and enjoyed the best form of his career, scoring ten goals in eleven league games.
By 1963 Russell was less able to cope with the pace of the First Division and left United for Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £20,000. In 1966 he transferred to Rochdale, then dropped into non-league with Scarborough before finishing his career with Chorley where a broken leg sustained in a pre-season friendly forced him to retire.
Russell's father had played for Chelsea and Hearts and was manager of Rhyl during his time there. He trained as a teacher and was still studying at Loughborough when he was signed by Sheffield United. On completing his studies Russell split his time between playing football and working as a technical high school teacher (Wythenshawe technical high school), before eventually becoming Head of Languages at a college in Altrincham.