Maidstone, Kent born goalkeeper Bobby Beale began his career with his hometown Kent League club, Maidstone United, signing for Southern League Brighton & Hove Albion in 1905, where he made only 10 appearances before moving to Norwich City three years later. In May 1912, he was signed by Manchester United for £275, making his Football League debut at Woolwich Arsenal that September.
He missed only one match in his debut season as United finished fourth in the League Championship and similarly in the final season of peacetime football before the onset of the First World War forced its suspension. He made 112 appearances for The Red Devils over three seasons, and represented the Football League once in an inter-league representative match, but his United career was ended by the First World War, during which he guested for Arsenal in 1915-16.
When competitive football resumed in 1919, he joined Southern League club Gillingham. He began the 1919-20 season as the club’s first choice goalkeeper, but lost his place after 12 games and in 1920 returned to his first club, Maidstone United, where he played until his eventual retirement.
Beale’s son, Walter, was also a footballer and signed for his father’s former club, Manchester United in May 1938, however he never played for the first team.