Billy Lewis

 

A Kind Man at the Heart of the Defence

Born 29 March 1931 died 12 November 2015

William "Billy" Sinclair Lewis signed for Irvine Meadow in season 1951-52.  It wasn't a particularly successful spell for the club, but Billy played at inside left as Meadow beat Neilston in the final of the Irvine & District Cup in his first season.  The following year he was in his real position of centre half in the team that won the Vernon Trophy, beating local rivals Irvine Victoria in the two-legged final with an aggregate score of 5-1.
 
In May 1953 he went senior with Morton in what was then the Second Division, playing 115 matches for the Greenock club and scoring 9 goals, before transferring to Third Lanark in August 1956.  Although Third Lanark are long gone, they were still a force in Billy's day and he helped them to promotion in his first season then to a third place finish in the old First Division in 1960/61, as well as an appearance in the League Cup final in 1959/60, playing at right back.  Hearts were too strong in that final, however, fighting back from a goal down to win 2-1.   In total he played 227 times for Third Lanark, scoring 6 goals.  He was freed in April 1964 with the club still in the First Division, but only three years away from extinction. 
 
During his time with the Hi-Hi Billy toured Canada and the USA, playing a series of friendlies over a period of four weeks.  Most of the games were against local teams, but three were against Birmingham City.  In the first game against City, Thirds won 4-1 with Billy scoring the fourth goal when "a quite fantastic Lewis solo effort ended with an unsaveable 30-yard drive."  The second "friendly" was less pleasant for Billy as he was virtually attacked by the Ukrainian Nations' centre-forward, who was sent off, sparking a pitch invasion by the fans.
 
Towards the end of his time with Third Lanark Billy won a winner's medal in the 1963 Glasgow Cup final, when Celtic were beaten 2-1 at Hampden
 
Billy had two connections with Irvine Meadow: not only was he a dominating centre half in spite of being only 5 feet 9 inches, but he was also the father of Robert "Rab" Lewis who later wore the Meadow number 7 shirt.  Rab, of course, was a member of the squad that famously won the Scottish Junior Cup in 1973 after three dramatic matches against Cambuslang Rangers.
 
Irvine Meadow fan, Ross Weeks, recalls, " When I was a boy, Billy's nephew,took my autograph book to him and Billy got me the autographs of all the Third Lanark team.  I never met him, but never forgot him for his kindness."

GORDON McCREATH   gjmccreath@hotmail.co.uk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HISTORIAN
e-zine Winter 2015/16   Issue 136
 
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