Bettridge Wally Image 1 Chelsea 1920

Bettridge Wally Image 1 Chelsea 1920


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Oakthorpe, Leicestershire born right back Wally Bettridge began his football career with Oakthorpe Albion and played for Measham United in 1906, and Midland League clubs Worksop Town and Burton United in 1907 and 1908, from where he joined First Division Chelsea in 1909, making his Football League debut at Blackburn Rovers that October. Although considered lightweight, he was described as “fearless in stopping forwards”, and soon established himself in the Chelsea first eleven although his debut season ended in Chelsea’s relegation. Bettridge missed only one match in 1910-11 as Chelsea progressed to the FA Cup semi final where they were beaten by Newcastle United at St Andrews and helped Chelsea regain top flight status in 1911-12 as Chelsea finished runners up in the Second Division.

Bettridge continued to perform regularly for the next three seasons, and played in all 8 cup ties as Chelsea reached the 1915 FA Cup Final, the so called “Khaki Cup Final”, where they were well beaten by Sheffield United at Old Trafford. Soon after the onset of the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football and Bettridge enlisted in January 1916 as an air mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps. He trained as a fitter, and attained the rank of air mechanic 1st class. After serving in both the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force, Bettridge was demobilized in 1919, and returned to Stamford Bridge, where he missed only one match in the first post war season of 1919-20, again reaching the FA Cup semi final with Chelsea where they were beaten by eventual winners Aston Villa at Bramall Lane.

Bettridge lost his regular place in Chelsea’s line up in April 1921 and stayed more than a year in Chelsea’s reserves before joining Third Division (South) club Gillingham in November 1922 after 255 appearances for The Pensioners, without ever scoring. He played 19 matches for Gillingham in the remainder of 1922-23 before a move to Southern League club Peterborough & Fletton United in the 1923 close season, where he played until his eventual retirement.

NB in the photograph taken at Stamford Bridge on 16th October 1920 prior to Chelsea’s match against Tottenham Hotspur, King George V is introduced to the Chelsea team and shakes hands with Dr John Bell. It is hard to identify other players. The player in the foreground  with high collar looking at the King appears to be goalkeeper Jimmy Molyneux. The player between Molyneux and Bell with arms folded appears to be Kenny Sharp. The player the other side of Bell appears to be Wally Bettridge, and the player with shoulders forward immediately to the right of the King’s bowler hat could be Bobby McNeil. Tottenham won the match 4-0.

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