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New Article: Whatever happened to Albert Bennett?

It was never going to be easy supporting Charlton Athletic, but I have followed them through thick and thin (mainly thin) for the last 61 years, having seen my first game at The Valley in 1959. Charlton lost, and that seems to have set the tone for the next seven decades.

Of course, there was no internet, no twitter, no facebook or texting back then, and the only media to carry regular weekly news on ‘The Addicks’ were two local newspapers - the South East London Mercury, and the Kentish Independent.

So, you can imagine the excitement I felt when a paragraph appeared on the back page of the London Evening News one Tuesday evening in 1967 stating that Charlton were on the verge of signing Albert Bennett, a centre-forward with Newcastle United of the First Division – at that time one of the giants of English Football.

It just so happened that that evening, Charlton were playing a second division match at home, and all around me, standing on the massive East Terrace the name of Albert Bennett seemed to be on everyone’s lips. As an impressionable 13 year old at the time, my attention was more on the conversations going on around me than on the match itself.

By the time I got home after the game, there was no doubt in my mind that it was a done deal and Albert Bennett was going to bang in 40 goals a season, and take my team into the promised land of the First Division.

The following evening, I couldn’t wait for my dad to get home after work. Dad, a painter and decorator with Greenwich Borough Council, (and sadly a Millwall fan) always popped into the newsagents to buy a paper after getting off the bus and I was dying to read that Albert Bennett was definitely now a Charlton player.

I took the paper out of his duffel-bag and eagerly scanned the back page. Nothing there - but it’s bound to be on the inside I thought.

I turned the page back. Nothing there either.

I was more disappointed than worried and I convinced myself that news of the transfer was obviously going to be in tomorrow’s evening paper.

The following day, Thursday, and a repeat performance.  Surely just a hiccup.

And with tomorrow being Friday, all would be ok as both the Mercury and the Independent would have everything about the big transfer splashed over their back pages. Eat your heart out Millwall fans!

Instead of waiting to read my dad’s Evening News, I popped into the newsagent on my way home from school and bought both local papers. My heart well and truly sunk as there was not a word about the signing in either paper.

What was going on? Albert Bennett was going to be our main man for years to come. He would be a Charlton legend and the Covered End would be singing songs about Albert for all eternity.

Even though I didn’t have a clue what he looked like as I had never seen a picture of Albert, in my mind’s eye he was a dead ringer for Roy Race, of Roy of the Rovers fame, who I read about every week in my Tiger comic.

Every day the following week my dad and I went through the same routine – I looked at him as he came through the front door – and he just shook his head. The disappointment was indescribable. It was like losing a best friend.

That weekend, 11 days after the story had appeared in the Evening News, Charlton were at home.

The game kicked off, but I found it very strange that no-one was talking about Albert Bennett. It was as though I had dreamt everything up and that he only existed in my mind. And then, a few minutes into the second half, Charlton went one down, and as our keeper picked the ball out of the back of the net, someone in the crowd shouted out ‘Bring on Albert Bennett’!

Despite being a goal down, there was a lot of laughter and I was well and truly puzzled.

And then it slowly dawned on me. The story in the Evening News had been nothing but a rumour – and a false one at that.

Albert Bennett did exist, he probably did look like Roy of the Rovers, he did play for Newcastle, he did score goals – but he was never going to play for Charlton Athletic Football Club.

I felt like crying. Crying the way I did at the end of the 1966 season when Charlton sold my favourite player, Billy Bonds to West Ham for £50,000; a fantastic player who went on to become a legend, just not with Charlton.

I had learnt two harsh lessons.  Never believe what you read in newspapers, and players that become legends play for other teams and not Charlton.

After a while I got over it. I had to because whenever Charlton were struggling, someone would always shout out ‘Bring on Albert Bennett’ much to everyone’s amusement.

So in his own way, Albert Bennett did become a terrace legend at Charlton with his name being called out every time the team were losing.

 It was just not the way I had imagined it would be.

 

Signed by Newcastle in 1965 for £27 000 from Rotherham United, Albert 'Ankles' Bennett was a big favourite with the Geordie crowd. Bennett played his part in their promotion season of 1965 before leaving to join  Norwich City for £25 000 in 1969.

Albert has two "claims to fame" as it were. He has the distinction of being the first-ever player to be named as a substitute for Newcastle, when he took to the bench in the game against Nottingham Forest on August 21, 1965. Ending in a 2-2 draw Albert was never used, [the distinction of being the first Newcastle substitute used in a match falls to Ollie Burton]. His 'other' claim to fame is that it was against him that the great Emlyn Hughes made his 'rugby-style' tackle, forever earning Hughes the nickname of "Crazy Horse"

Albert Bennett - What a Legend!


Comments

  • Great piece. Exactly like you I remember us "signing" Albert Bennett. I think I was even hoping to get the legendary Albert's signature before the game!

  • There was an abortive Covered End attempt to start an Albert Bennett song. To the tune of "Bend it, bend it" by Dave Dee etc sadly I don't think it ever managed a second line. 

  • What a lovely gentle read. Thanks for posting that @Isawsummersplay it reminded me of what internet writing (and this site) was like 15 years ago!

    Will add Albert Bennett as a forerunner to the “Darren Purse pile of rumoured non signings”
  • Zoom
    Just in case anyone is curious as to what Albert looked like.

    Taken from the The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1968/69 album by FKS Publishing.
  • What a lovely gentle read. Thanks for posting that @Isawsummersplay it reminded me of what internet writing (and this site) was like 15 years ago!

    Will add Albert Bennett as a forerunner to the “Darren Purse pile of rumoured non signings”
    I'm sure Darren would be up for it although at 43 a little old.

  • Perhaps our Geordie manager Bob Stokoe thought he had a done deal. At all events a few weeks later we made the double signing from Grimsby Town of Matt Tees and Rodney Green, one of whom became an absolute Addicks legend and the other rather a myth.

  • If my memory serves me well, wasn't Rodney Green clobbered by a Coventry player during the infamous game at The Valley when Charlton were kicked off the park by the likes of George Curtis, Dietmar Bruck and Maurice Setters? Ironically, Bruck and Setters both joined the club a couple of years later.
    As for Green, I think he only played a handful of times for us after that match. 
  • That was a lovely read in those days in London most people bought at least one evening newspaper, when I was a boy there was the News, Star and Standard, by 1967 I think the Star might have gone.

    Some of the strikers we bought around that time were good but getting old, Cliff Holton, Ron Saunders and Ray Crawford.

  • I always thought Bennett failed a medical. 

  • Green started only 3 matches, the last one being the Coventry game, in which he was injured. After a lengthy recovery his only other CAFC appearance was as sub for the second half of the last match of the 66/67 season. Both Tees and Green received a merciless battering from Coventry.
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  • It was never going to be easy supporting Charlton Athletic, but I have followed them through thick and thin (mainly thin) for the last 61 years, having seen my first game at The Valley in 1959. Charlton lost, and that seems to have set the tone for the next seven decades.

    Of course, there was no internet, no twitter, no facebook or texting back then, and the only media to carry regular weekly news on ‘The Addicks’ were two local newspapers - the South East London Mercury, and the Kentish Independent.

    So, you can imagine the excitement I felt when a paragraph appeared on the back page of the London Evening News one Tuesday evening in 1967 stating that Charlton were on the verge of signing Albert Bennett, a centre-forward with Newcastle United of the First Division – at that time one of the giants of English Football.

    It just so happened that that evening, Charlton were playing a second division match at home, and all around me, standing on the massive East Terrace the name of Albert Bennett seemed to be on everyone’s lips. As an impressionable 13 year old at the time, my attention was more on the conversations going on around me than on the match itself.

    By the time I got home after the game, there was no doubt in my mind that it was a done deal and Albert Bennett was going to bang in 40 goals a season, and take my team into the promised land of the First Division.

    The following evening, I couldn’t wait for my dad to get home after work. Dad, a painter and decorator with Greenwich Borough Council, (and sadly a Millwall fan) always popped into the newsagents to buy a paper after getting off the bus and I was dying to read that Albert Bennett was definitely now a Charlton player.

    I took the paper out of his duffel-bag and eagerly scanned the back page. Nothing there - but it’s bound to be on the inside I thought.

    I turned the page back. Nothing there either.

    I was more disappointed than worried and I convinced myself that news of the transfer was obviously going to be in tomorrow’s evening paper.

    The following day, Thursday, and a repeat performance.  Surely just a hiccup.

    And with tomorrow being Friday, all would be ok as both the Mercury and the Independent would have everything about the big transfer splashed over their back pages. Eat your heart out Millwall fans!

    Instead of waiting to read my dad’s Evening News, I popped into the newsagent on my way home from school and bought both local papers. My heart well and truly sunk as there was not a word about the signing in either paper.

    What was going on? Albert Bennett was going to be our main man for years to come. He would be a Charlton legend and the Covered End would be singing songs about Albert for all eternity.

    Even though I didn’t have a clue what he looked like as I had never seen a picture of Albert, in my mind’s eye he was a dead ringer for Roy Race, of Roy of the Rovers fame, who I read about every week in my Tiger comic.

    Every day the following week my dad and I went through the same routine – I looked at him as he came through the front door – and he just shook his head. The disappointment was indescribable. It was like losing a best friend.

    That weekend, 11 days after the story had appeared in the Evening News, Charlton were at home.

    The game kicked off, but I found it very strange that no-one was talking about Albert Bennett. It was as though I had dreamt everything up and that he only existed in my mind. And then, a few minutes into the second half, Charlton went one down, and as our keeper picked the ball out of the back of the net, someone in the crowd shouted out ‘Bring on Albert Bennett’!

    Despite being a goal down, there was a lot of laughter and I was well and truly puzzled.

    And then it slowly dawned on me. The story in the Evening News had been nothing but a rumour – and a false one at that.

    Albert Bennett did exist, he probably did look like Roy of the Rovers, he did play for Newcastle, he did score goals – but he was never going to play for Charlton Athletic Football Club.

    I felt like crying. Crying the way I did at the end of the 1966 season when Charlton sold my favourite player, Billy Bonds to West Ham for £50,000; a fantastic player who went on to become a legend, just not with Charlton.

    I had learnt two harsh lessons.  Never believe what you read in newspapers, and players that become legends play for other teams and not Charlton.

    After a while I got over it. I had to because whenever Charlton were struggling, someone would always shout out ‘Bring on Albert Bennett’ much to everyone’s amusement.

    So in his own way, Albert Bennett did become a terrace legend at Charlton with his name being called out every time the team were losing.

     It was just not the way I had imagined it would be.

     

    Signed by Newcastle in 1965 for £27 000 from Rotherham United, Albert 'Ankles' Bennett was a big favourite with the Geordie crowd. Bennett played his part in their promotion season of 1965 before leaving to join  Norwich City for £25 000 in 1969.

    Albert has two "claims to fame" as it were. He has the distinction of being the first-ever player to be named as a substitute for Newcastle, when he took to the bench in the game against Nottingham Forest on August 21, 1965. Ending in a 2-2 draw Albert was never used, [the distinction of being the first Newcastle substitute used in a match falls to Ollie Burton]. His 'other' claim to fame is that it was against him that the great Emlyn Hughes made his 'rugby-style' tackle, forever earning Hughes the nickname of "Crazy Horse"

    Albert Bennett - What a Legend!


    Bond was sold in the summer of love, '67 .I am sure that some of that money(17k) was spent on Paul Went , who became the most expensive teenager in British football for a while.
  • Smashing post isawsummersplay.
    Brought back so many memories.
    Always thought Bennett played a couple of games for us and then moved onto Millwall?
    Maybe not.

  • Might you be thinking of Gordon Bolland, John? He played a handful of games for us, and then we sold him to Millwall.
  • What a lovely gentle read. Thanks for posting that @Isawsummersplay it reminded me of what internet writing (and this site) was like 15 years ago!

    Will add Albert Bennett as a forerunner to the “Darren Purse pile of rumoured non signings”
    I'm sure Darren would be up for it although at 43 a little old.
    He’s still having talks.
  • Albert Bennet ran a pub in Norwich called the Elm Tavern. I had a mate who knew him and was a Norwich fan so when we played them at Carrow Road one year a few of us met in The Elm Tavern pub before the game. Albert was behind the bar. 
  • Lovely post ..I remember that Albert Bennett rumours followed a couple of years later by the Alex Ferguson ones

    I am sure I had a card of Bennett ,not a fag card..the one youd get with strip of unchewable bubble gum ..but definitely remember him 

    Brought back memories of getting the early Saturday editions of the evening standard or news when youd get a brief half time report..something like tees (in bold) opened the scoring with a deft header  then youd go to stop press and see we lost 4-1 ..always lost to Bolton, Preston Blackpool etc 


  • Lovely piece @Isawsummersplay

    I remember Albert Bennett and the CAFC rumours too. He is no longer with us sadly.

    https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/former-newcastle-united-player-albert-12356724
  • He was mentioned in the first series of Auf Wiedersehen Pet by Oz whilst they were in Düsseldorf 
  • Great article - he didn’t know what he was missing!!
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  • Might you be thinking of Gordon Bolland, John? He played a handful of games for us, and then we sold him to Millwall.
    Yes your absolutely correct, I'm getting mixed up with Gordon Bolland. 
  • What a lovely gentle read. Thanks for posting that @Isawsummersplay it reminded me of what internet writing (and this site) was like 15 years ago!

    Will add Albert Bennett as a forerunner to the “Darren Purse pile of rumoured non signings”
    I'm sure Darren would be up for it although at 43 a little old.
    He’s still having talks.
    LB says he needs more minutes before he's ready for 1st XI action......
  • If my memory serves me well, wasn't Rodney Green clobbered by a Coventry player during the infamous game at The Valley when Charlton were kicked off the park by the likes of George Curtis, Dietmar Bruck and Maurice Setters? Ironically, Bruck and Setters both joined the club a couple of years later.
    As for Green, I think he only played a handful of times for us after that match. 
    Yes he was. George Curtis did him. They injured Matt Tees too, but at least he survived. I'm your age and that Coventry game really left a scar. I just couldn't understand how such things were allowed to happen - I don't think Curtis even got booked. That was Jimmy Hill's team too. Never had any time for the bloke as a result.  
  • I was only 11 at the time but remember the game well.
    That Coventry promotion side captained by that brute George Curtis were thugs.

    They kicked us off the park. And not just us, other teams too.


  • Oggy Red said:
    I was only 31 at the time but remember the game well.
    That Coventry promotion side captained by that brute George Curtis were thugs.

    They kicked us off the park. And not just us, other teams too.


    Corrected for you ;)
  • LenGlover said:
    Oggy Red said:
    I was only 31 at the time but remember the game well.
    That Coventry promotion side captained by that brute George Curtis were thugs.

    They kicked us off the park. And not just us, other teams too.


    Corrected for you ;)
    Haha Len, very good.

    Except I Know you are older than me.  :wink:


  • edited November 2020
    Oggy Red said:
    I was only 11 at the time but remember the game well.
    That Coventry promotion side captained by that brute George Curtis were thugs.

    They kicked us off the park. And not just us, other teams too.


    One of their worst offenders was Brian Lewis....little blond haired fella who wore the 7 shirt.....he was one filthy sneaky little bastard.
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