This rather solemn looking cricketer should be a familiar face to all students of Association football history.
On March 16th 1872 at The Oval The Wanderers played The Royal Engineers in the first ever FA Cup Final. Fifteen minutes into the match Wanderers' 18 year old forward Robert Walpole Sealy Vidal succeeded in dribbling the ball a considerable distance into the Engineers' territory. Vidal centered and a teammate finished off the move from an acute angle. The goalscorer was listed on the teamsheet as A.H Chequer.
His actual name was Morton Peto Betts, known as Monty, a 24 year old Old Harrovian and Cambridge University student.
Bett's pseudonym arose from his membership of Harrow Chequers, It was common in the amateur era for players to be members of a number of clubs simultaneously. As an Old Harrovian Betts was naturally a member of their old boys' side- the Chequers, founded in 1865.
Chequers had been drawn to play against Wanderers in the first round of the FA Cup, but had withdrawn. There has been speculation that Betts chose his rather transparent alias to avoid being 'cup-tied.' It may, however, simply have been an example of the humour of the day. I note that in one early West Kent fixture one of the forwards is listed as A Chizelhurst- Chiselhurst being the home of the West Kent club. I can't help but wonder if this might also have been Betts!
Betts' name crops up frequently in the sporting annals of the 1870s and 1880s.
The earliest references I have found to him as a footballer come from 1870. His name does not feature in any reports of House matches at Harrow in the years when he would have been at school. In November 1870 he appears on a Wanderers line-up. Betts was also on a shortlist to represent England in the 2nd Alcock International on November 19th, but he wasn't selected and instead appeared in the role of Umpire (discharging his duties with commendable impartiality throughout according to the press). December 1870 sees the first mention of Betts as a West Kent player, and he also played for South vs North during that month.
An example of multiple club membership giving rise to possible divided loyalties can be seen in January 1871. West Kent played Wanderers. Betts played for West Kent. In November that year Betts represented England in the 4th Alcock International. 1871 also saw the beginning of Betts' 20 years service as a member of the Board of the Football Association .
Betts' status within the game is reflected by his captaincy in 1872 of Middlesex (for a county game vs Surrey) and of Old Harrovians vs Old Etonians. This meant that he captained teams containing such natural leaders as Alcock and Kinnaird.
Betts also featured regularly for London in their series of matches with Sheffield, and captained London in 1877.
By now Betts had 'matured' into a goalkeeper (although he does not appear to have been Old Harrovians' regular 'keeper in the 1876-77 season). On March 3rd 1877 Betts won his one and only official England cap when he played in goal against Scotland at The Oval.
Scotland won by 3 goals to 1. Contemporary reports attributed the Scots' success to combination play. England, on the other hand, retained the old singular approach.
This match did not signal the end of Betts' involvement with the international game. In
1885 and 1888 he appeared as an Umpire in the England vs Scotland matches.