Joe Williams finished fifth in the 1924 International Cross-Country Championship at Gosfoth Park, Newcastle-on-Tyne and, with England occupying the first six places, they won the team prize. At the Olympics later that year, Williams was forced to retire before the halfway stage of the cross-country race due to the extreme heat, said to be in excess of 40°C. Williams was also the 1924 Yorkshire and Northern Champion, and finished fourth in the national championships at Doncaster. In 1927, he was in the Hallamshire Harriers squad that won the coveted London-to-Brighton relay in a record time of 4:41-17. Williams became a coach at Hallamshire in 1940, and between 1968-75 served as club president. During his presidency Sebastian Coe joined the club as a junior.