355 Benny Lester

Biography

Centre forward Abraham Bennett “Benny” Lester joined the Tigers in September 1946 from Selby Town, a £100 fee changing hands for his signature. Lester was born in north Sheffield and worked as a pipe fitter before the outbreak of World War Two, during which he served in the Army. Lester signed for Yorkshire League side Selby Town when demobilised in the summer of 1946, having played football while serving in the Forces. He scored eight goals in his first four starts for Selby, which alerted Hull City manager Major Frank Buckley who was assembling from scratch a squad to compete in the first post-War Division Three North season.

Lester slotted straight into the centre forward role for City’s first team, scoring on his debut at Gateshead. In his third start for the Tigers Benny struck a hattrick away at Tranmere and a month later he added a brace against New Brighton. In his first 20 starts for the club Lester scored 15 goals, a fine return for a man elevated to the Football League for the first time. Another brace of goals against Lincoln City in late December 1946 turned out to be notable, but in mid-January a leg injury drew a halt to his fine form. Lester returned in mid-February and netted another brace of goals against Darlington but he struggled to hold down a first team place for the rest of the season and for a time was placed on the transfer list by Buckley.

Lester signed on again for Hull City at the start of the 1947/48 season but when centre forward Norman Moore was signed in September 1947 Benny must have known his chances at Hull City would be limited. So it proved – while he returned to the first team for two starts in November 1947, the first of which saw Benny score twice in a 2-2 draw at York City, that drew a close to his career and his contract was cancelled on New Years Eve 1947 in order that he could focus on his business interests in Sheffield.

It was therefore a matter of some surprise when two days later Lester signed a part-time contract with Lincoln City, the team he scored against twice a year earlier who were now competing at the upper end of the Division Three North table. Hull City’s disgruntlement was expressed to the Football League, ire that must have deepened when Benny netted six times for the Imps to help secure the Division Three North title. Elevated to the Second Division, Lester started the 1948/49 season in the first team but new signings saw him usurped by mid-September. He returned to the first team in the closing months of the season and took his goal tally to four as Lincoln swiftly returned to the third tier, then he followed up by scoring the extra time winner in the Lincolnshire Senior County Cup final against Grimsby Town. During his time at Sincil Bank Lester scored 10 times in 37 senior starts.

Lincoln City released Benny in the 1949 close season and in early August he signed for Newark-based Midland League side Ransome & Marles. Within three weeks – and before he made his debut for Ransomes – he was snapped up by Stockport County, another Division Three North side. He spent the 1949/50 season at Edgeley Park, scoring twice in eight starts, but his services were not retained for the 1950/51 season which he spent at Cheshire League side Buxton. He left Buxton in 1951 and drifted out of football, briefly reappearing in October and November 1953 when he had a short spell at Birmingham Combination side Hinckley Athletic. In November 1957 Benny had a leg amputated in hospital at Sheffield, and a year later he died at the age of 38.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 10 February 1920, Sheffield
Hull City First Game: 16 September 1946, Gateshead H (Division Three North), 26 years, 218 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 November 1947, Southport H (FA Cup First Round), 27 years, 292 days old

Clubs

Selby Town, Hull City (1946-1947), Lincoln City (1948-1949), Ransome & Marles (1949), Stockport County (1949-1950), Buxton (1950-1951), Hinckley Athletic (1953)

Hull City Record

Career: 31 apps, 19 goals

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