Birthdate: April 1871
Birthplace: Blackburn, England
Other clubs: Cherry Tree, Blackburn Olympic, Blackburn Rovers (1886-90), Darwen (1890-92), Blackpool (1894-95), Nelson (1895-96)
Bought from: Darwen
Signed for LFC: N/A, 25.07.1892
Liverpool debut: 15.04.1893
Last appearance: 14.04.1894
Contract expiry: 1894
Win ratio: 74.07% W: 20 D: 6 L: 1
LFC league games/goals: 23 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 27 / 0
"Many supporters of the Darwen Football Club will regret to hear that W McOwen, the former goalkeeper, has severed his connection with the club. Some time ago the committee engaged Chalmers, the Middlesbrough goalkeeper, and it was thought that the club would retain the services of the little champion from Blackburn. McOwen has, however, obtained his release from the club in the "Salmon Town", and signed for the Liverpool club. The popular custodian was formally transferred by the Darwen committee on Monday last," reported the Blackburn Standard on Saturday, July 30 1892. This article signalled the beginning of Billy McOwen's Liverpool career. McOwen was not a regular in Liverpool's first-ever season as Sidney Ross stood in goal, but after he retired through injury McOwen had the honour of being Liverpool's first-ever goalkeeper in a Football League match at Middlesbrough Ironopolis on 2 September 1893. He played in 23 of the 28 second division matches and conceded only 16 goals without losing a single match during the whole campaign! McOwen was a schoolboy prodigy and featured for Blackburn between 15-19 being the youngest goalkeeper in the League. McOwen needed to be a tough character playing in goal when 'keepers got no protection from referees. They were frequently rushed by attackers and lying on the ground with three or four players on top of them after an attack came with the territory.
The ingenious McOwen tried everything to prevent a goal as reported by the Blackburn Standard on 30 December 1893. "McOwen, the Liverpool Football Club goalkeeper, (says Pastime) jumps up
and pulls the crossbar down when the ball appears likely to hit it. The Football Association has ruled that in the case of a temporary displacement of the bar the referee may award a goal if, in his opinion, the ball has passed under the place where the bar ought to have been. If a referee will allow a goal when the ball passes just over the bar while McOwen is hanging on to it, it may deter this ingenious player from practicing a not very desirable trick. Other goalkeepers with the same trick are Oglivie (Blackburn Rovers) and Hillman (Burnley). It makes the crowd laugh, but it doesn't look fair."
McOwen was a dentist and when Liverpool were promoted to the First Division he left the club as he would make a much better living pulling teeth rather than saving shots! He was reinstated as an amateur and played with Blackpool and later with Nelson. McOwen was an expert in saving penalties and during his career he faced 13 penalty kicks and saved 12 of them!