Diminutive and agressive half back Bill Gowdy joined the Tigers in July 1929, having been scouted a few weeks earlier by manager Bill McCracken, whose brother played alongside Gowdy at Ards. Bill was injured during a pre-season warm-up game so was not introduced to the first team until late September 1929 and didn’t win a regular place until November 1929. Chosen at left half, Gowdy missed only four games for the rest of the season as the Tigers experienced a roller coaster ride that saw them in the top six during the early weeks of the season, nestling in mid-table by Christmas, embarking on an FA Cup run that only ended in March 1930 with a semi-final replay defeat to Arsenal, then experience a collapse in League form that resulted in relegation. Gowdy played in all seven Cup ties and was an established first team fixture that was retained for the 1930/31 campaign in Division Three North. Gowdy scored his only goal for City on the opening day, a 2-3 defeat at Stockport, and served the Tigers at left half and right half during the rest of the season.
At the start of the 1931/32 season McCracken was replaced by Hayden Green as City’s manager and Gowdy was chosen irregularly during the first two months of the season. He had dropped into the reserves by December 1931 when a move to First Division Sheffield Wednesday transpired.
William Alexander Gowdy was born in Belfast and served a number of local junior teams in the Belfast area as a young man while pursuing his career on the Irish railways. In the 1924/25 season he came to prominence at Duncairn Old Boys, then spent the following season at South End Rangers. In September 1926 he joined Cliftonville and initially played for Cliftonville Olympic, the club’s reserve side, before breaking into the first team later in the 1926/27 season. In July 1927 he moved to Irish League rival Ards and in two seasons at Castlereagh Park he forged a reputation as a talented half back and inside forward.
On Christmas Eve 1931 Gowdy signed for Sheffield Wednesday and was handed his debut two weeks later in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham. He made his First Division debut for the Owls in April 1932 against Portsmouth but was unable to establish himself in the first team. In March 1933 Sheffield Wednesday agreed to terminate Gowdy’s contract and a month later he joined Division Three North side Gateshead, who were managed by his former Hull City boss Bill McCracken. Gowdy made four appearances for Gateshead before returning to Ireland in July 1933 and signing for Linfield.
Bill rediscovered his form at Linfield and twice came close to joining Scottish League teams over the next 18 months. Eventually he joined Hibernian in December 1935 and went straight into the Hibees first team. Bill scored his only goal for Hibernian against Airdrie and made only 12 appearances in three months before returning south to live in the Hull area. Despite still being registered to Hibernian, Gowdy spent the 1936/37 season at Goole Town and captained the Yorkshire League side to the league title. He was transferred to Cheshire League side Altrincham in July 1937 for a £500 fee, then in June 1938 he returned briefly to the English Football League, signing for Division Three South side Aldershot. He made only three starts for the Shots and returned to the Hull area on the outbreak of World War Two, assisting Goole Town and arranging a charity football match in 1940 against an Army XI. He also started three wartime fixtures for Hull City in August and September 1940.
In 1947 Gowdy and his family moved to California in USA, his wife was suffered health issues and it was hoped the cleaner air would improve her condition. Gowdy later returned to Northern Ireland and died in Larne in March 1958.
While at Ards in the late 1920s, Gowdy had represented the Irish League in seasonal representative matches against their Scottish counterparts. In September 1931, while at Hull City, Gowdy made his full international debut for Ireland against Scotland and he won his second cap against the same opponents a year later while at Sheffield Wednesday. Gowdy added four more caps between October 1934 and March 1936 while at Linfield and Hibernian.
Date/Place of Birth: 24 December 1903, Belfast
Hull City First Game: 21 September 1929, Bristol City A (Division Two), 25 years, 271 days old
Hull City Final Game: 17 October 1931, Rotherham United H (Division Three North), 27 years, 297 days old
Duncairn Old Boys (1924-1925), South End Rangers (1925-1926), Cliftonville (1926-1927), Ards (1927-1929), Hull City (1929-1931), Sheffield Wednesday (1931-1933), Gateshead (1933), Linfield (1933-1935), Hibernian (1935-1936), Goole Town (1936-1937), Altrincham (1937-1938), Aldershot (1938-1939)
Hull City Record
Career: 73 apps, 1 goalsBill Gowdy