Over three decades, Stan Bentham was a valued member of the Goodison set-up, first serving with distinction as a player, winning the League Championship in 1939, then as a member of the coaching staff.
An inside right by number, Bentham was a pioneer of the roving midfield role, becoming the ‘extra man’ in the middle of the team, at hand whenever Everton were on the attack, but always ready to drop back when the defence needed assistance. He learned his early football with his church team, Lowton St Mary’s, in the Leigh and District Sunday League, and had a series of trials with Bolton before signing professional forms with Wigan Athletic in December 1933. Within weeks he found himself scouted by top clubs, but chose Everton, making the Goodison switch with Springfield Park team-mate Terry Kavanagh in February 1934.
Kavanagh never made the Goodison grade but, after working his way up through the youth and reserve sides, Bentham made his debut in November 1935, scoring twice in a 4-0 away victory against Grimsby Town. Despite the dream debut it took him a further three years to establish himself in the Everton starting line-up, but when he did his influence was considerable.
Bentham missed just one game in the 1938/39 season when Everton won the Championship, and he was able to round off a glorious campaign with a hat-trick in the 6-2 victory over Sunderland on 10 April, which virtually sealed the League title for Everton. The following day the Liverpool Echo ran a cartoon singing his praises, and its caption read: ‘Bentham had a plaster on his head, a cut over his eye and was kicked in the ribs, yet he scored 3 goals … As Bentham seems to thrive on injuries there is no knowing how many he would have scored if he had received a few more bumps!’
As with many of the highly promising players of his generation, Bentham had his career wrecked by the war. When he came back from the fighting, despite missing just five games in the 1946/47 season, he struggled to hold on to his first-team place. He was appointed to the coaching staff on his retirement from playing in 1949, a position which he kept until he left Goodison in 1962 to take up a similar role at Luton Town.
A fine amateur cricketer who scored several centuries for Newton Le Willows, Bentham lived quietly on Merseyside until his death in May 2002 in a Southport nursing home.