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HISTORY OF T&MUFC 
CLUB LEGENDS

Brian Bennett

The word legend is banded about frequently, but in the case of Brian it has never been more aptly applied.

He joined the club at an opportune moment in December 1957. At the time the club had two first class centre halves but there was a problem. Trevor Owen, who had impressed a number of professional clubs, made the decision to join Leyton Orient and veteran stopper, Les Walters, had decided to retire. On his first appearance, by his own admission, the game did not go well and Brian thought the club would not keep him. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over the next 8 seasons, Brian represented the club over 240 times. From an inauspicious start he developed into one of amateur soccer’s most outstanding centre halves. Strong, cool and exceptionally brilliant in the air he was the master of most centre forwards. He played at a time when most clubs in the Isthmian League had a star striker. Wycombe had Paul Bates, Woking had Charlie Mortimore, and Wimbledon had the dual threat of Eddie Reynolds and Brian Martin. Probably the greatest Isthmian League opponent was Jim Lewis of Walthamstow Avenue, who had actually won the First Division Championship, playing as an amateur with Chelsea in 1955. With the number of trophies that Tooting won in this era, it is pretty safe to say that Brian played a major part in reducing the impact of these great players. I well remember seeing Eddie Reynolds beating his fist on the turf because he could not beat Brian in the air.

The 1958/59 season is one that all of us old timers remember with joy. The London Senior Cup was won, beating Hendon in front of a large crowd at Highbury, and of course our run to the third round of the FA Cup is legendary. Great film of our 1st round defeat of Bournemouth has footage of Brian, at his uncompromising best, not giving the visiting centre forward a kick.

The next season, 1959/1960 was possibly the club’s most successful season ever. The London Senior Cup was won beating Bromley at the Den, the Surrey Senior Cup beating Walton at Wimbledon and we were Isthmian League champions for the second time in three years. Brian with 51 appearances played more than any other player.

We had the great pleasure of seeing Brian again a few years ago, when the 1950s players returned to the club to meet their former team-mate, Alex Stepney, who was our after-dinner speaker. Brian was a wonderful recontour and told a story of the match we played at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the final of the London Challenge Cup. When the Tooting players ran out to warm up before the start Brian remarked to Ted Murphy how bright the lights were. At the time only two clubs in the Isthmian League had floodlights and they weren’t the best. Just before the kick off the Stamford Bridge lights were turned fully on, nearly blinding our players. Although Brian had his usual great game we couldn’t prevent Chelsea from winning 2-1, Bobby Tambling and Barry Bridges were formidable opponents.

Article written by Chris Jackson TMUFC Members Club Vice President

Brian Bennett Lifting Surrey Senior Cup 1960_edited.jpg
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