les bennett fact file
midfielder 1939 - 1955
|FULL NAME : LESLIE DONALD
Born on 10th January 1918 in Wood Green, London, England.
Height : . m (5' 11")
Weight : kgs (11 st 0 lbs)
Les Bennett was a Spurs man through and through, being a local lad and joining the club straight from Alexandra school. Les represented Wood Green, Middlesex, London Schools and England Schoolboys and was picked to be a ball-boy at the 1932 FA Cup final between Newcastle United and Arsenal at Wembley.
He worked in his family's plastering business before Les first joined Spurs as an amateur in 1935 and progressed through the club's Junior side, winning many honours in the local district sides and then Bennett played for the Northfleet nursery side before becoming the club's regular inside-right during the run up to World War II. At the Kent side, he was managed by soon to be Spurs manager Peter McWilliam.
Signed professional in May 1939, after
impressing in the annual Northfleet match at White Hart Lane in which he
netted a hat-trick in a 3-2 victory over West Ham Reserves as an inside
forward, but before
he could make an appearance for Tottenham, he was called up to the Army
to fight in World War II serving in Burma, India and Egypt.
Bennett played for the Denis Compton XI that toured
in India and he
played during World War II as a guest player for Torquay
United and Distillery, also
representing the Northern Ireland Regional League against the League
of Ireland in April 1943. He played for Spurs 25 times in the war-time
Football League South, where hit a hat-trick on his first team debut on
11th November 1939 against Watford and went on to make over 300 first team
matches for the side and then finished with a spell at West Ham.
Won a Second Division Championship medal in 1949-50 and a First Division Championship the following season in the "Push and Run" Spurs team under Arthur Rowe, as his skills in midfield were put to their maximum use. An energetic midfielder, Bennett also had good close control and the physical build to hold off opponents as they tried to take the ball off him. Despite his height, he had the ability to beat players by guile and also was capable of making things happen with quick thinking and surprise. Bennett showed great balance, along with a work ethic that made it hard for opponents to keep up with him for 90 minutes. As a tall man, he possessed great pace as well as stamina, with the ability to produce a moment of inspiration to turn a game in Tottenham's favour, including moving out wide to use his dribbling skills to create chances, as he used his tactical mind to vary things on the field. Able to turn sharply and with a fine dribbler, Bennett's elegant play made him revered across the land. His timing of runs into the area were uncanny to meet balls into the scoring areas of the penalty area.
Les had a great striking partnership with Len Duquemin and playing at inside right, Len is the seventh highest League goal-scorer in Spurs history at the time of writing. But he was not just a goal-scorer, because he was thought of as an entertaining ball player whose positional sense created many openings for both himself and for others.
In 1951-52, Bennett top scored with 20 League goals, his best total, as Spurs finished in runners-up place in the First Division Championship. He almost won an England cap, as in 1951-52 he stood by as an England reserve but never got the call up to the national side.
Interestingly, in the 1950s, Les had a cameo role in the film "39 Steps" starring James Mason.
In December 1954 he moved to Second Division West Ham United for a year and scored three goals in 26 League and one in two FA Cup games for the Hammers. In August 1956, he was appointed as player-manager of Clacton Town (where his brother Ken played in the side; he also played a few games for Spurs during the war) and spent 1959-60 with Romford.
He also came out of retirement in 1964 to play for the reformed "Push and Run" team for John White's Memorial Fund.
When he ended his time in the game, Les took on the management of a caravan site in Clacton, Essex and then became a security guard at the University of Essex. On retirement, Bennett returned to live in the Tottenham area and often watched matches at White Hart Lane.
Les Bennett died in St. Joseph's Hospice in Hackney on 29th April 1999
|Season||League||FA Cup||Charity Shield||Other|
|Football League||FA Cup||Charity Shield||Other||Total|
|West Ham United||26||3||2||1||0||0||0||0||28||4|
* = 1 abandoned; + = 2 abandoned
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