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Roy Bentley: The passing of an England legend

 

ROY BENTLEY, former Reading manager and club Secretary, dies at the age of 93.

The Reading Former Players’ Association join the nation in mourning the death of  former Chelsea and England forward Roy Bentley who died on the 20 April.

Born in Bristol, Roy Thomas Frank Bentley started his career with both Bristol clubs as an amateur in the late Thirties. Then, like so many footballers of his generation, World War II interrupted his career.

During the War he was called up by the Royal Navy, serving on destroyers that escorted Atlantic convoys.

In 1946, having turned out for Liverpool in wartime football, Bentley was bought by Newcastle United and was soon playing in attack with “Wor” Jackie Milburn and Len Shackleton. He scored in their 13-0 rout of Newport County (when “Shack” plundered six goals), which remains the biggest win ever in the top two divisions.

Another big money move took Roy to Chelsea in the Summer of 1948. He became an immediate success and became the top scorer for the club during the 1949-1950 season before going on to replace Johnny Harris as captain.

He then lead Chelsea to their first ever trophy when they won the League championship in 1955.

The Blues ace ended up scoring a massive 150 goals in 367 appearances for the club and was top scorer for seven consecutive years.

Roy’s football career saw him gain 12 caps for England. A star centre forward for the national team, he was the last surviving member of the 1950 World Cup team.  He scored nine goals for England during his international career.

He also played for Newcastle, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers before retiring in 1962 at the age of 38.


 

 

 

Roy stands on the Town End terrace at Elm Park in the Winter of 1963 as he takes on the role of Reading Boss.

 

 

 

Roy’s first stint as a club Manager came at Reading when he took over from the sacked Harry Johnson in January 1963. It was the time of the ‘Big Freeze’ and as a consequence, he had to wait six weeks before he could lead his team in a competitive match.

Having steered the club away from relegation that season only by goal difference, he soon established Reading as promotion contenders in 4 of his 6 seasons at the club. Ultimately, though,  he paid the price of not achieving promotion from Division Three by getting the sack in February of 1969.


Bentley (centre) with the Directors and players pictured at Plymouth in August 1968.

 

 

 

He had managed the Elm Park club in 280 League games. In August of that year he took up his second management job when he took over at Division Four Swansea Town. 

He led Swansea to promotion in his first season (1969/70) at the club but found life in the higher division difficult and, with the club in a relegation battle, he was sacked in October 1972. After spending time as a painter and decorator, he returned to Reading and invested in a News agency and as part-time manager with non-League Thatcham Town.

It was whilst delivering newspapers that the offer came to re-join Reading as club Secretary in August 1977. It was as club Secretary in 1983 that Roy had to preside over Robert Maxwell’s takeover bid, and attempts at amalgamating Reading with near neighbours, Oxford United.

After a prolonged legal battle, Maxwell soon ended his interest in the club and Roger Smee took over as Chairman of Reading FC.

One of Smee’s first acts was to sack Bentley and manager Maurice Evans. Despite taking on similar roles within, and outside, of Football, Roy, and his wife Vi, remained in Reading.

Our deepest condolences go Roy’s family and friends at this sad time.

26 April 2018



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