William Ayre (7 May 1952 â€“ 16 April 2002) was an English footballer who played for three clubs in a sixteen-year professional career, making over three hundred League appearances in the process. After retiring from the playing side of the game, he became a manager, and took the helm at five clubs between 1984 and 2000. He guided Blackpool to two successive play-off finals, in 1991 and 1992, during his four years in charge of the club.
Billy Ayre was born in the Gateshead suburb of Crookhill. After trying his hand at refereeing in his teenage years,"Allan adds to tributes" â€“ Blackpool Gazette, 23 April 2002 he played for several years in non-League football at two amateur clubs in County Durham: Crook Town and Bishop Auckland F.C.Bishop Auckland.
Ayre began his professional playing career at Scarborough in 1975 whilst balancing a teaching profession"Ex-Boro boss dies" â€“ Scarborough Evening News at St Leonard's Catholic School in Durham, where he taught art and physical education. He won the Scarborough Supporters' Player of the Year award in 1977.http://scarboroughfc.com/club/poty.php Player of the Year awards â€“ ScarboroughFC.com It was his uncompromising performances for Boro that earned him a move, also in 1977, to Hartlepool United F.C.Hartlepool United.
Ayre played in over one hundred league games and score 27 goals for Hartlepool. He made his debut for Pools on 13 August 1977, in a 3â€“0 defeat at Grimsby Town in the League Cup.In The Mad Crowd â€“ a Hartlepool United Resource He made his league debut seven days later in a 2â€“1 home defeat to Torquay United. He was the club's top scorer in an ever-present season with the club, 1977â€“78, with thirteen goals,http://www.inthemadcrowd.co.uk/cgi-bin/itmc_view_squad.asp?seasonoid=1977/78 In The Mad Crowd â€“ a Hartlepool United Resource which assisted in his being named as the Supporters' Player of the Year.http://www.inthemadcrowd.co.uk/cgi-bin/itmc_view_person.asp?oid=23 In The Mad Crowd â€“ a Hartlepool United Resource In 2008, Ayre was posthumously named United's "Player of the 1970s". In Ayre's second season at Hartlepool, 1978â€“79, he made 42 league appearances and scored five goals. In 1979â€“80, he made 43 league appearances and score nine goals. In his final season at the club, 1980â€“81, he made ten league appearances and scored one goal before he was sold to Halifax Town. He played against Hartlepool in Halifax's visit to Victoria Park later in the season.In The Mad Crowd â€“ a Hartlepool United Resource
At Halifax, Ayre made 63 league appearances and scored five goals in his first spell at The Shay.
The summer of 1982 saw Ayre move again, this time to Mansfield Town, then managed by Stuart Boam. He spent two seasons with the Stags, making 67 league appearances and scoring seven goals. He scored a headed goal on his first-team debut in a Football League Trophy tie at Field Mill."Billy Ayre sadly passes away" â€“ Stags.net The following season, 1983â€“84, Ayre found himself acting as caretaker-manager after the sacking of Boam. Ian Greaves was eventually appointed as the new manager, and Ayre was released on a free transfer."Friday's Former Stags: Billy Ayre" - Chad.co.uk, 26 August 2016
Ayre re-joined Halifax for a second spell in 1984. In two years, he made 32 league appearances and scored two goals. He brought his playing career to a close with the club in 1986. On 5 August 1987, Halifax played a benefit match for Ayre against Halifax RLFC. At this point, he was the club's manager.
In October 1984, Ayre took over as caretaker-manager of Halifax for less than a month. Mick Jones, who is the godfather to Ayre's two children, was installed on 10 November. In December 1986, Ayre became manager of Halifax again, this time on a full-time basis."Billy kept club going â€“ Jack" â€“ Halifax Courier (He was also managing director of the club.) Three years later, in April of the 1989â€“90 season, he resigned,