Benson, John

Birth Date

23rd December 1942


Arbroath, Angus



Biographical Text

A real football man as player, manager and coach - at various levels of the professional game over an extended period of time - John Benson (aged thirty at the time but with plenty of football ahead of him) appeared just four times for Exeter City whilst on loan from AFC Bournemouth in March 1973.

Scottish-born, but Stockport-raised, John’s career started when signing as an apprentice with Manchester City after starring for Stockport schools. His first full contract followed in July 1961 as he went on to make 44 league outings for the club.

Moving to Torquay United in June 1964, his career began to blossom when Frank O’Farrell arrived as manager in 1965 with John becoming a key member of the club’s 1965/66 promotion winning team. All told John featured in 240 league matches for Torquay scoring seven goals. Moving with a number of other Torquay players to Bournemouth - where former teammate John Bond had taken over as manager - John joined the Cherries (then still Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic) in October 1970 where he captained the side and played 92 league matches. 

Briefly appearing for Exeter on loan, John made his debut for the Grecians in a 1-0 defeat at Hereford United on 10 March 1973 and subsequently played against Bury, Doncaster Rovers and Newport County. During his month with City John never featured in a winning team and it remains a curious chapter in his long and varied career.

John followed John Bond to Norwich City in December 1973 and, after scoring one goal in 30 league appearances, moved back to Bournemouth in January 1975 as player-manager. With John Bond still at the helm at Carrow Road, John returned to Norwich as youth team coach and - following John Bond’s appointment as manager of Manchester City in October 1980 - moved to Maine Road as assistant manager.

John briefly took over as manager of Manchester City when Bond was dismissed in February 1983 but he was only in charge for four months before leaving the club and eventually joined his old colleague at Burnley as first-team coach. Subsequently, with Bond soon leaving Turf Moor, John took over as manager between August 1984 and May 1985.

After coaching stints in Dubai and Kuwait, John scouted for Barnsley before, in the mid-1990s, working alongside John Deehan firstly back at Norwich City and then Wigan Athletic. With Deehan leaving the Lancashire club, and having initially turned the job down on grounds of ill health, John briefly served as Wigan’s manager between June 1999 and June 2000 before remaining to variously work in the roles of general manager, youth development officer and director of football. With Steve Bruce’s arrival as manager John built another working relationship, just as he had done with John Bond and John Deehan, by accompanying Bruce to Birmingham City, back to Wigan and then on to Sunderland. 

Usually in the role of general manager John Benson had only recently taken up post at Sunderland when he died aged 67 on 30 October 2010 in Macclesfield a few miles from where he had grown up.  


Exeter City league games only




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