Benny Fenton

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Benny Fenton
Benny Fenton at West Ham United in 1937.jpg
Fenton at West Ham United in 1937
Personal information
Full nameBenjamin Robert Vincent Fenton [1]
Date of birth(1918-10-28)28 October 1918 [1]
Place of birth West Ham, England [1]
Date of death 29 July 2000(2000-07-29) (aged 81)
Place of death Poole, England [1]
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) [2]
Position(s) Inside forward, wing half
Youth career
1934–1935 Colchester Town
1935–1937 West Ham United
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1937–1939 West Ham United 21 (9)
1939–1947 Millwall 20 (7)
1947–1955 Charlton Athletic 264 (22)
1955–1958 Colchester United 104 (15)
Total409(53)
Teams managed
1955–1963 Colchester United
1963–1964 Leyton Orient
1966–1974 Millwall
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Benjamin Robert Vincent Fenton (28 October 1918 – 29 July 2000) was an English professional football player and manager. He played for West Ham United, Millwall, Charlton Athletic and Colchester United, making over 400 appearances in the Football League for all four clubs. He managed Colchester United, Leyton Orient and spent eight years at Millwall, before holding various positions at Charlton Athletic.

Contents

Career

Playing career

Fenton represented West Ham, Essex and London as a schoolboy. [3] He signed for Colchester Town in 1934, moving to West Ham United a year later. [4] Fenton served in the same Territorial Army unit as his West Ham teammates and played mainly as outside-left with the east London club. [3]

He made his professional debut for West Ham United on 9 October 1937, playing alongside his older brother Ted, as an inside forward in a match against Fulham. [5] He played three times that season, and managed nine goals in his eighteen games in 1938–39. The two brothers played together in the same team on four occasions, the only brothers to do so at first team level for West Ham. [6] Fenton was not retained by the club and joined Millwall in March 1939, [7] where he was utilised as a wing half. [3]

Fenton joined the Essex Regiment during the Second World War. [8] He guested for former club West Ham United in November 1944, [7] and also played for Norwich City, Manchester City, Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace, York City, [2] and Cardiff City as a wartime guest. [4] [9]

Fenton never gained full international honours, but toured South Africa with the FA in 1939, making three appearances, and also represented an FA Services XI team against Switzerland on 24 July 1945. [10]

Fenton joined Charlton Athletic of the First Division in January 1947. [10] He became club captain in the 1950–51 season, and made 264 League appearances at inside forward and wing half during his nine seasons with the club, [11] [12] before leaving in February 1955. [10] [13]

Coaching career

In 1955, Fenton joined Third Division South club Colchester United as player-manager and switched to defensive duties. [3] He played his first game for the club on 5 March 1955, a home match against Brentford that the U's won 3–2. [14] He narrowly missed out on success in the 1956–57 campaign, after finishing a single point behind both Ipswich Town and Torquay United. [15] He played on into the 1957–58 season, playing his final game for the club on 1 May 1958, a 4–2 home win against Southampton, aged 39 years, 185 days. [16] Colchester United finished 12th in the 1957–58 Third Division South campaign, thereby earning the right to compete in the newly merged Third Division the following season. After relegation in 1960–61, he led the team to promotion after finishing as Fourth Division runners-up in 1961–62. [9]

Fenton joined Leyton Orient as manager on 1 November 1963. [17] He was sacked after 56 games in charge in December 1964. [18]

He went on to take the manager role at Millwall on 1 May 1966, towards the end of the 1965–66 season. [19] The season saw the south London club win promotion to Division Two (the club's second promotion in succession), and the club would set a record of 59 home League games unbeaten in December 1966. Millwall spent the rest of Fenton's tenure in England's second tier; the closest the Lions came to promotion under Fenton was in 1972, with a point separating them from second-place Birmingham City. He left the club on 3 October 1974, [20] [21] as the club's longest serving post-war manager. [22]

In January 1977, he rejoined Charlton as secretary. [23] He became assistant manager of the Addicks in March 1980 and progressed to the position of general manager in June 1981. He stayed in with the club until June 1982. [4] [24]

Managerial statistics

Managerial record by team and tenure [20]
TeamFromToRecord
PWDLWin %
Colchester United 1 February 195531 October 1963425164107154038.6
Leyton Orient 1 November 196331 December 196456171425030.4
Millwall 1 May 19663 October 1974391150113128038.4
Total872331234307038.0

Outside football

Fenton also played lawn bowls for Essex County. [3] He married wife Winnie on Christmas Day 1939, with whom he had one daughter, two grandchildren and one great grandchild. In later life, he lived in Dorset, where he died, aged 81. [13]

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The 1961–62 season was Colchester United's 20th season in their history and their first-ever season in the fourth tier of English football, the Fourth Division. Alongside competing in the Fourth Division, the club also participated in the FA Cup and the League Cup.

The 1957–58 season was Colchester United's 16th season in their history and their eighth season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. They were eliminated at the first round stage of the cup for the fifth successive season, on this occasion to non-league side Wisbech Town. In the league, with the division being restructured at the end of the season, Colchester managed to finish in the top half of the table by three points to avoid a move to the newly formed Fourth Division, instead remaining in the third tier.

The 1956–57 season was Colchester United's 15th season in their history and their seventh season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup in which the club were eliminated by Southend United in the first round in the first Essex derby in a cup competition. The season would be Colchester United's highest league finish for 50 years by ending their campaign in third position. It has only been bettered on three occasions; the 2005–06 season, 2006–07 season and the 2007–08 season.

The 1955–56 season was Colchester United's 14th season in their history and their sixth season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup in which the club were eliminated by Torquay United in the first round. The season was Benny Fenton's first full campaign in charge, and after building his own squad over the summer, he led Colchester to their highest position since the 1951–52 season with a 12th-placed finish. This came on the back of two consecutive seasons of successful re-election applications.

The 1954–55 season was Colchester United's 13th season in their history and their fifth season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. Following a replay, Colchester were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round by Reading. Meanwhile, in the league, Colchester's poor run of form had Jack Butler allowed indefinite leave following a bout of ill health. After resigning in January 1955, Colchester appointed Benny Fenton as his replacement, and despite an upturn in form, a run of defeats at the end of the season meant Colchester needed to apply for re-election for the second successive season. Once more, all clubs applying for re-election were successful, with Colchester receiving 44 votes, behind Third Division North clubs Grimsby Town and Chester City, but eleven votes ahead of division rivals Walsall.

The 1953–54 season was Colchester United's twelfth season in their history and their fourth season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. Colchester were knocked out in the first round of the cup by Millwall following a replay. The club struggled in the league for the second successive season, eventually finishing 23rd of 24 teams under new manager Jack Butler. The club had to apply for re-election at the end of the season for the first of three occasions in its history. All four clubs applying for re-election were successful, with Colchester receiving 45 votes, behind Chester by three votes but ahead of both Walsall and Halifax Town.

The 1952–53 season was Colchester United's eleventh season in their history and their third season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. Colchester reached the third round of the FA Cup for the second season running, but were knocked out by Second Division side Rotherham United after a replay. The club struggled in the league, eventually finishing 22nd of 24 teams which would ultimately cost manager Jimmy Allen his job.

The 1951–52 season was Colchester United's tenth season in their history and their second season in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. Colchester reached the third round of the FA Cup before being knocked out by Second Division side Barnsley. In the league, they bettered the previous season's 16th-placed finish by finishing 10th.

The 1950–51 season was Colchester United's ninth season in their history and their first ever season in the Football League, competing in the Third Division South, the third tier of English football. Alongside competing in the Third Division South, the club also participated in the FA Cup. The club ended the league season in 16th-position, while they exited the FA Cup in the first round following a defeat to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic.

The 1947–48 season was Colchester United's sixth season in their history and their sixth in the Southern League. Alongside competing in the Southern League, the club also participated in the FA Cup and Southern League Cup. The season was most notable for Colchester's run in the FA Cup, where they defeated three Football League clubs as they progressed to the fifth round, before being beaten 5–0 by First Division side Blackpool. They finished in 4th position in the Southern League, and while they ended as runners-up in the Southern League Cup, the final wasn't held until April 1949 due to fixture congestion.

The 1946–47 season was Colchester United's fifth season in their history and their fifth in the Southern League. Alongside competing in the Southern League, the club also participated in the FA Cup and Southern League Cup. New manager Ted Fenton began to assemble a team of professionals following the reliance on guest players during the 1945–46 season, as the club finished 8th in the league. They reached the first round of the FA Cup, but were defeated by Football League side Reading. They were also Southern League Cup semi-finalists, defeated at Priestfield Stadium by Gillingham.

References

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  11. "Former Addicks hero Fenton dies aged 81". ESPN. 3 August 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  12. "Benny Fenton". cafcfactsstats.com. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  13. 1 2 Glanville, Brian (16 August 2000). "Obituary: Benny Fenton". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  14. "Colchester United 3–2 Brentford". www.coludata.co.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
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  17. "Benny Fenton". League Managers Association. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
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  19. "UK Soccer Roundup". The Ottawa Journal. 9 May 1966. p. 18 via Newspapers.com.
  20. 1 2 Benny Fenton management career statistics at Soccerbase
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  22. "Who is Millwall's best ever manager?". www.fl125.co.uk. Football League. 2013. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
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  24. Mullery, Alan (2016). The Autobiography. Headline. p. 235. ISBN   978-1-4722-4148-1.