Watford FC have paid tribute to former player Micky Benning and his impact on the club.
Micky, who died late last year at the age of 82, was best known career-wise for his part in ‘the Holton era’ during the late 50’s and early 60’s.
Mick played in the successful 1959/60 promotion side that also went through to the fifth round. They won promotion from Division 4.
In a quote on the Watford FC website, Micky recalled: “People still talk about that side. I can never get over how popular that side is in the memories of those who watched it. People talk to me about Watford and sometimes I admit I played for the Hornets. They ask me when that was and I say ‘the Holton era’. Everyone seems to know exactly when that was.
“I don’t know why that team so captured the public imagination, but I am glad it did because I was a part of it.”
Known for his rapid pace and love for running down the right flank, Micky signed for Watford on just £1-a-week on a part time deal in the 50’s, balancing his footballing life with a job in the print at Odhams.
The life-long Croxley Green resident may have only been part-time, but his potential was clear to see – at the age of 22 he turned down a £18,000 move to Billy Nicholson’s impressive Spurs side.
Micky, who was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Jan 2016, was one of two Croxley brothers who married two sisters; he married Pat Hill, while his brother John married Jean Hill. The quadruple met at Durrants Secondary Modern School.
While many locals will remember him for his footballing ability, those who knew him in later years knew a different side to Micky.
His wife, Pat, said: “Mick was always known around Croxley Green for his endless whistling and riding his bike. There are people who have said to me, ‘I miss him whistling’ or ‘I miss seeing him on his bike.’
“He would always be saying to friends or family, ‘Ha! you got that fiver you owe me?’ and ‘Keep the high balls low.’
“Mick was a lovely water colour artist. He only started doing more after retirement in his early 70’s. We had three dogs over many years and he loved nothing more than to go out over the woods or golf course with a dog. Mick would often be in Durrants School fields with our two sons, Terry and Paul, when they were boys, playing football or tennis.
“Years later, we had our three grandchildren Lauren, Lee and Charlie, the apple of their Grampy’s eye, and he doted on them, always entertaining them playing games and dressing up at their birthday parties. We took them many times on holiday to Somerset in Jean and John’s caravan, plus a couple of their friends two years running, and there was never a dull moment.
“Now there’s our two great grandchildren Rae and Bobby Benning. Mick loved Rae, now four years old; he did get to meet Bobby, now 10 months old, but sadly he was too ill to realise who Bobby was.
“Following Mick’s funeral, I was able to send a cheque of over £600 in donations from friends and family to charity. We would have had our diamond wedding this June; 60 years. Sadly, not to be…”
Picture courtesy of Watford FC