William (Billy) Townley was born in Blackburn on 4th February, 1866. He played football for Blackburn Swifts and Blackburn Olympic before joining Blackburn Rovers at the beginning of the 1888-89 season.
The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship that year without losing a single match and acquired the name the "Invincibles". Blackburn Rovers finished in 4th place, 14 points behind Preston.
At the beginning of the 1889-90 season Tom Mitchell, the club secretary, recruited four top players from Scotland: Tom Brandon, Johnny Forbes, George Dewar and Harry Campbell. Local lads, Billy Townley, Nathan Walton, Joseph Lofthouse and Jack Southworth were also drafted into the side.
In the 1889-90 season Blackburn Rovers finished in 3rd place, six points behind Preston North End. They did even better in the FA Cup. On the way to the final they beat Sunderland (4-2), Grimsby Town (3-0), Bootle (7-0) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0).
Blackburn were odds-on favourites to win the cup against Sheffield Wednesday, who played in the Football Alliance league. According to Philip Gibbons (Association Football in Victorian England) Townley, playing at outside-left, had a great game. Blackburn won 6-1 with Townley scoring a hat-trick. Jack Southworth, Joseph Lofthouse and Nathan Walton got the other goals.
Blackburn Rovers with the FA Cup in the 1889-90 season. From left to right, back row:
Billy Townley won his first international cap for England against Wales on 23rd February 1889. England won 4-1. Townley also played the following year against Ireland and scored two goals in England's 9-1 victory.
Townley was unhappy with the wages he was receiving at Blackburn Rovers and left for Stockton in 1891. In his three years with the club he scored 27 goals in 77 games. Townley also worked as a school teacher at the Brunswick Street Board School in Stockton.
After retiring from playing the game, Townley coached in Germany, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland.
William Townley died in 1950.