Atkinson began his professional football career as an apprentice at Birmingham City, turning professional in March 1962. He remained at St. Andrews for a further 2 years, but failed to make a single first team appearance.
In June 1964 he moved to Torquay United, scoring on his league debut on 12 September 1964 in a 2-2 draw against Stockport County at Plainmoor. Despite this start to his Torquay career he was soon out of the team again, although did have a good run in the first team later in the season after replacing Peter Anderson in the side.
In 1966, after only 19 league appearances, in which he scored 7 goals, Atkinson returned to the Midlands, joining non-league side Nuneaton Borough. He retired from Non League Football in 1974 - the last Club he played for was Redditch.
Atkinson started refereeing throughout the Midlands in 1982 for local clubs, also involved with assessing for the B.C.F.A. of which he has been a member for 20 years
For 20 years, during summer months he played cricket for local club Ambleside and Ansley, and later umpired for local clubs in the Midlands area.
Atkinson started his successful family run industrial cleaning business in 1968, which he runs with his son James.
Bill completes 50 years in football this year 2010