William Garbutt was born in Stockport on 9th January 1855. He played football for Reading in the Southern League before joining Woolwich Arsenal in December 1905. He made his debut on the right-wing against Preston North End later that month.
Arsenal finished in 12th place in the 1905-06 season. The club also had a good FA Cup run that season beating Watford (3-0), Sunderland (5-0), Manchester United (3-2) before losing to Newcastle United 2-0 in the semi-final with Jimmy Howie and Colin Veitch getting the goals.
Arsenal finished in 7th place in the 1906-07 season. Garbutt played in 25 games that season. Once again they had a good cup run beating Bristol City (2-1), Bristol Rovers (1-0) and Barnsley (2-1) before losing to Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 in the semi-final.
During this period Arsenal had a very impressive forward line that included Garbutt, Bert Freeman, Charlie Satterthwaite, Tim Coleman, and Bobby Templeton. The defence was also very good with players such as Jimmy Ashcroft, Andy Ducat, Roderick McEachrane, Jimmy Sharp and Percy Sands in the team. However, Arsenal encountered serious financial problems at this time and Garbutt was sold to Blackburn Rovers in May 1908.
In 1911 Garbutt was a member of the Blackburn Rovers team that lost in the FA Cup semi-final. Therefore he had a record of being in three losing semi-finals in seven seasons. Garbutt scored 10 goals in 82 games for Blackburn before retiring.
William Garbutt died in 1964.