William George Reed was born in Ynyshir, in Rhondda, in Wales, on 25 January 1928. He represented Wales at schoolboy level, and played for the Wattstown Boys’ Club before moving into senior football with Rhondda Transport. In 1947, he played twice for the Wales amateur team before turning professional with Cardiff City later that year. He never broke through to their first team, and signed for Brighton & Hove Albion then of the Third Division South ahead of the 1948–49 season. By this time he was playing as an outside right rather than the inside forward position of his early career. He made his league debut on Christmas Day 1948, in the 1–1 draw away to Exeter City, and played in seven more matches that season, at outside left as well as outside right. He appeared in around half of Brighton’s matches over the next two seasons, but was ever-present in 1951–52, becoming the team’s joint top scorer with 19 goals as the Seagulls finished in fifth place.
Billy played 129 matches for the Seagulls between 1948 and 1953 scoring 37 goals.