Billy Fenton

Billy Fenton, a hero of of 1954/5 FA Cup semi final side, died unexpectedly an early age in 1973. At the end of that season, York City awarded its first player of the season award and named it in his memory
Born in Hartlepool in 1926, Billy Fenton was destined for a career in football from an early age. He turned out for Barnsley towards the end of World War 2 before making a name for himself as a left winger with the Horden Colliery Welfare, a strong amateur side in County Durham.

For the record, he’s not to be confused with the “B Fenton” who turned out for City during the war, that was Benny Fenton, the flamboyant West Ham and Charlton forward.

Professional football beckoned, Billy joined the exodus from the north east to Lancashire to sign for Blackburn Rovers in December 1948.

Joining just as they’d been relegated from England's top division, he spent nearly 3 years with Rovers. At 1.75m (5 foot 9), he was a good height for a winger of his era and had pace to burn making him a firm fans' favourite. He made 33 league appearances, scoring 7 goals without ever making a first team spot his own. In those days, leading teams would run 3 or even 4 sides, so competition was tough. Lower league teams had a source of seasoned pros who'd failed to make their mark at first team level.

He joined City in May 1951 and in his first season set a club record of 31 goals in a season, a record twice equalled by Arthur Bottom, but never bettered to this day.

Times were tough at York. Leaving behind a modern semi with garden in Blackburn, Fenton and his wife, Margo, moved into a terraced house in Heslington Road with no hot water or inside toilet.

Undoubtedly, he is best remembered for his role in our 1955 FA Cup run when he scored 3 goals (including goals against Blackpool and Spurs). He gave a man of the match display against Spurs, his pace causing problems throughout the game. He gave England right back, Alf (later Sir Alf) Ramsey a torrid afternoon, his speed provided 2 assists to go with the goal he scored himself. However, maybe, his teammates would say that his speed rather than skill was his main weapon.

Individually, the 4 goals he scored in our 5-4 win at Carlisle in November 1954 remain to this day one of the finest ever displays by a City player.

In 7 seasons, with City he made 279 appearances, scoring 124 goals. Only Norman Wilkinson and Keith Walwyn have beaten that.

After City, he played for Scarborough and was associated with local amateur football, including coaching Rowntree's youth team, where his son David was a player. Reports state he was he was tough, strict and passionate but he really cared about the boys he coached. He worked as a draughtsman at the Vickers factory on Haxby Road, York.

He died suddenly, aged 46, in June 1973.

Within months, plans were formulated to create a City Player Of The Season award.

Annually, since April 1974, The Billy Fenton Memorial Trophy has been presented to York City's Clubman Of The Year. For many years, Margo, Billy’s widow, laterly chaperoned by Sophie McGill, presented the trophy.

In 1955, City's front 5 of Fenton, Billy Hughes, Arthur Bottom, Norman Wilkinson and Sid Storey were feared throughout the footballing world. I doubt if ever again we will see such a formidable attack wearing City shirts. Read more on Billy's strike partners Arthur Bottom and Norman Wilkinson plus watch our Happy Wanderers On Film beating Blackpool, Spurs, Notts County and Bishop Auckland plus our 2 epic semi final games.

Check out all our Player Of The Year winners