Cambridge United lost a link with its Southern League Cup-winning side of 1965 with the death, at the age of 81 on January 21, of Billy Day. The speedy outside right, born on 27 December 1936, enjoyed a stellar career with his hometown club of Middlesbrough before moving to Newcastle and Peterborough and then becoming a favourite of the Abbey Stadium crowd for two seasons.
After signing for Boro from local club South Bank at the age of 18, he was dubbed the ‘flying winger’ for two reasons: his blistering pace and his habit, while on national service in Germany, of flying home every weekend to play. His son Colin told the Teesside Gazette: ‘He’d get home about 7am on a Saturday, have an hour’s sleep, and then be straight to play a game.’
His national service stint also saw Day become the forces champion in the 100 yards.
Day laid on countless goals for Ayresome Park legends Brian Clough and Alan Peacock, and scored 21 himself, during his 131 Middlesbrough games.
Signing for United in the summer of 1964, for an undisclosed fee from Peterborough, he made an immediate impression in a 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Colchester, and started the Southern League season on the right wing.
Despite coming in for rough treatment from defenders – notably those of Cambridge City and Folkestone – he was outstanding as the season wore on and United progressed towards a Southern League Cup final against Weymouth. He set up three goals in a 4-2 third round win at Nuneaton, and scored in the two-leg final as the U’s triumphed 3-1 on aggregate.
By the time the 1964/65 season had ended, Day had played in 70 matches, but his second season at the Abbey was fraught with difficulties.
Having vied with Wes Maughan for the right-wing spot, he was transfer-listed at his own request before Christmas 1965. Injured in a Boxing Day loss at Bedford, he did not attract any offers and later came off the list.
Billy Day: the flying winger in 1964.
A debilitating attack of pleurisy affected the second half of his season and he was released at the end of the term, having scored 11 goals in 100 appearances in amber and black.
Day then launched a new career in bookmaking. He started as manager of a betting shop and set up on his own as an on-course bookie in 1970, becoming a familiar figure for decades at horse and greyhound courses in his native North-east.
He died in hospital after a battle with dementia, leaving sons Richard and Colin, daughter-in-law Sue and grandchildren Sophia and Richard. Day’s wife of 61 years, Irene, predeceased him in December. The funeral will take place at 2.30pm on Monday, February 5 at Middlesbrough Crematorium.
Above, Billy Day is pictured front row left on 6 February 1965. Photo: David Campbell. Left, cartoonist Ken Robinson's view of Day in the Cambridge Evening News of 17 April 1965. Click on images to enlarge.