An accomplished wing-half, when free from injury Billy Dickson was one of the most effective players in the English First Division...
Name: William Dickson
Born: 15 March 1923, Lurgan
Height: 5.10½ ft
Weight: 12.00 st
Died: June 2002, Lurgan
Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 12 Full Caps (1951-1954).
Clubs......... --Seasons-- Signed --Fee-- League FA Cup
Notts County.. 45/46-47/48 Nov-45 ........ 21/ 2
Chelsea....... 47/48-53/54 Nov-47 £ 2,500 101/ 4 .18/ 0
Arsenal....... 53/54-55/56 Oct-53 £15,000 .29/ 1 ..1/ 0
Mansfield Town 56/57...... Jul-56 ........ 19/ 0 ..?/ ?
Glenavon...... 57/58...... Jan-58
Totals........................... £17,500 170/ 7 .19/ 0
A powerfully built attacking wing-half, Billy Dickson’s versatility saw him win most of his Irish caps at centre-half, and also appear in the forward line. Dickson began his career with hometown club, Glenavon, during the war, signing for Notts County in November 1945. Unable to make much headway in a County team then languishing in Division Three (South), Dickson was used as a £2,500 makeweight in the £20,000 deal with Chelsea that took Tommy Lawton to Meadow Lane in November 1947.
Initially Dickson’s progress at Chelsea was limited by a succession of injury problems and illness. He suffered a dislocated shoulder, went down with appendicitis, had a knee operation and was laid up with a slipped disk – all limiting him to just six League outings in his first three seasons. When finally clear of injury in late-1950, Dickson cemented a place in the Stamford Bridge starting eleven, making over 100 appearances in the next three seasons.
Dickson’s emergence as a force in top-flight football during the 1950/51 season did not go unnoticed by the Irish selectors. He made his international debut as left-half in a British Championship game with Wales in March 1951, and two months later played at inside-left in the Festival of Britain match against France at Windsor Park. The following season he retained his place in the Irish line-up, slotting in as right-half before a run of eight consecutive matches at centre-half.
A £15,000 transfer to Arsenal in October 1953 saw a return to the injury problems of old, and after a first campaign as a regular, Dickson found himself limited to just five appearances in his final two seasons at Highbury. These injury problems also brought an end to Dickson’s international career, his final cap won in a 2-0 defeat by England at Windsor Park in October 1954. In his time with Arsenal Dickson scored just once, in a 3-3 draw at home to Charlton Athletic.
Arsenal released Dickson in the summer of 1956, and that July he moved to Mansfield Town in Division Three (North). He played just nineteen times before a damaged shoulder brought an end to his full-time career in 1957. Dickson returned home to Lurgan, and resumed his earlier career as a joiner. He briefly returned to football, signing for Glenavon in January 1958, and he also worked as Arsenal’s Northern Ireland scout during the late-1950s.
Northern Ireland Cap Details:
07-03-1951 Wales... H L 1-2 BC
12-05-1951 France.. H D 2-2 FR
06-10-1951 Scotland H L 0-3 BC
20-11-1951 England. A L 0-2 BC
19-03-1952 Wales... A L 0-3 BC
04-10-1952 England. H D 2-2 BC
05-11-1952 Scotland A D 1-1 BC
11-11-1952 France.. A L 1-3 FR
15-04-1953 Wales... H L 2-3 BC
11-11-1953 England. A L 1-3 WCQ/BC
21-03-1954 Wales... A W 2-1 WCQ/BC
02-10-1954 England. H L 0-2 BC
Summary: 12/0. Won 1, Drew 3, Lost 8.