Billy Halligan joined Hull City in May 1913 for a £600 fee, one of the early signings of new manager Harry Chapman. Billy had extensive experience in the Irish League and the English Second Division and slotted straight into City’s first eleven, scoring on his debut in September 1913 against Blackpool. A broken arm kept him out of the team during October 1913 but was soon amongst the goals when he returned, scoring twice in a 4-0 win at Leicester Fosse and four times in a 7-1 thrashing of Wolverhampton Wanderers, the club who sold him to the Tigers. Now playing inside right rather than centre forward, Halligan continued to chip in with goals and reached double figures in a January 1914 3-1 win over Humber rivals Grimsby Town.
Retained for the 1914/15 season, Halligan was again amongst the goals once Fred Stringer took over from the ailing Chapman as City manager. He scored twice in a November win over Bury then continued to punish his former club Wolves with a Christmas Day brace in a 5-1 victory. By the end of the season his 17 goal haul was impressive, though the chance to repeat that success was blocked when the Football League shut down for four years due to World War One. Halligan played in one wartime game for the Tigers, a September 1916 draw against Bradford Park Avenue. He also played for Rochdale, Manchester United, Chesterfield and Stockport County during the conflict.
William Patrick Halligan hailed from Athlone on the banks of the River Shannon in central Ireland but began his football career at Dublin junior side Old St Mary’s, then switched to Belfast Celtic in September 1907. Within weeks of his move Billy was selected to represent the Irish League in the 1907 edition of an annual challenge match against a Scottish League select XI. He moved to Belfast Distillery for the 1908/09 season and was again selected for the Irish League XI before taking the plunge with English football in May 1909, one of several signings made by the ambitious Leeds City. Halligan scored twice on his debut for the Elland Road side and after 12 goals in 25 senior starts for Leeds he moved to Second Division rivals Derby County in February 1910, earning the financially struggling Leeds City club a £400 fee. Billy spent a season and a half at Derby making 22 starts, but he fell out of favour during the 1910/11 season and by the summer of 1911 a disillusioned Halligan considered giving up football and emigrating to New Zealand, taking his skills as a coach maker with him. However an offer to sign for Wolverhampton Wanderers pulled him back from the brink and in 1911/12 seaosn he scored 19 goals for the Black Country side. In two seasons at Molineux he scored 41 goals in 74 senior starts prior to joining the Tigers in May 1913.
Halligan returned to professional football in 1919, starting the first Football League season after the end of WW1 at Division One side Preston North End – he made it to the top flight finally at the age of 33. After just 16 starts he moved to Division One rival Oldham Athletic, maing only 28 starts and scoring nine goals in a seaosn and a half. Halligan joined Nelson in the 1921 close season, who had just won promotion to the newly formed Division Three North. Billy scored Nelson’s first ever league goal in August 1921 and stuck around for the rest of the season, scoring seven times in 20 senior starts. He then spent his late 30s playing in the Fenlands for Boston Town and Wisbech Town. By this time he has commenced a successful second career in the wines and spirits trade, which saw his settle in a tidy semi-detached home in leafy Didsbury, South Manchester. Halligan remained in Manchester for the rest of his life, dying of Alzheimer’s Disease in September 1966 after spending time in a local care home.
Halligan won two international caps for Ireland. he made a scoring debut in January 1911 aganst Wales while on Derby County’s books, then played again in February 1912 in a 6-1 defeat to England while a Wolves player. He also played in two unofficial Victory internationals against Scotland in March and April 1919, scoring in the first tie.
Date/Place of Birth: 13 January 1886, Athlone
Hull City First Game: 6 September 1913, Blackpool A (Division Two), 27 years, 236 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1915, Grimsby Town H (Division Two), 29 years, 106 days old
Old St Mary’s (1904-1907), Belfast Celtic (1907-1908), Distillery (1908-1909), Leeds City (1909-1910), Derby County (1910-1911), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1911-1913), Hull City (1913-1915), Preston North End (1919-1920), Oldham Athletic (1920-1921), Nelson (1921-1922), Boston Town (1922-1924), Wisbech Town (1924-1925)
Hull City Record
Career: 72 apps, 28 goalsBilly Halligan