Wolstanton, Staffordshire born centre forward Billy Beats began his football career with Porthill Victoria in 1888. His reputation was such that Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme Swifts were coveting him. Indeed, Beats nearly came to terms with Stoke, but he signed his first professional form with Second Division Burslem Port Vale, joining their reserve side Port Vale Rovers in 1889. He played with them for a season and a half and joined the senior side as an inside left in August 1891, making his Football League debut at Ardwick (now Manchester City) in September 1892, making 22 appearances in his breakthrough season. An ever present over the following two seasons, he was Vale’s top scorer in 1893-94 with 17 goals including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Small Heath (now Birmingham City) in September 1893.
He was sold on to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £80 in June 1895 after 27 goals in 80 appearances for The Valiants. With Wolves he played in the 1896 FA Cup Final at The Crystal Palace, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday following a brace from Fred Spiksley. Beats finished as the club’s top scorer in the 1896-97 season with ten goals. He scored 12 goals in 1897-98 to again finish as the club’s top scorer as Wolves posted a third place finish in the League Championship.
His consistency at Wolves was eventually rewarded when he was awarded his first cap for England, playing in a 6-0 win over Wales at St James’ Park in March 1901. In April the following year he played in the abandoned “Ibrox disaster” match against Scotland when a part of the stand collapsed killing 25 people and injuring 500, and he won his second and final England cap a month later as the match was replayed at Villa Park, finishing a 2-2 draw. Beats also made 5 appearances for The Football League between 1896 and 1899.
He moved on to Bristol Rovers in 1903 where he was made club captain. The Pirates finished third in the Southern League in 1903-04, before winning the Southern League Championship by a five point margin in 1904-05, Beats scoring 16 goals in their victorious campaign. They finished a disappointing eighth in 1905-06. Beats scored 45 goals in exactly 100 appearances in his three years at Eastville.
He then made a return to Second Division Burslem Port Vale in May 1906, scoring 15 goals in 37 further appearances before he joined Southern League Reading the following year. On his retirement from playing he became a trainer for The Royals in 1911, before becoming the licensee of the Truro pub in Reading during the First World War. He returned to Reading as a coach in 1924, before leaving his post at Elm Park to again tend to his pub.