Bennett’s big night at the Welfare

Armthorpe Welfare's manager Des Bennett prepares for his testimonial match against Doncaster Rovers. Picture: Liz Mockler D9427LM
Armthorpe Welfare's manager Des Bennett prepares for his testimonial match against Doncaster Rovers. Picture: Liz Mockler D9427LM

A WEEK is meant to be a long time in football.

But for Armthorpe boss Des Bennett - who has spent the last seven days frantically putting the finishing touches to plans for tonight’s friendly with Doncaster Rovers - it is merely a drop in the ocean.

Bennett (pictured above), a former Rovers YTS striker, has spent the last 23 YEARS as a player and then manager of the Northern Counties East League Division One side.

But when he travels back in time for this evening’s legends game - the precursor to Doncaster’s annual community curtain-raiser - very little will have changed behind the dressing room door.

Apart from a few waist sizes that is!

Bennett, 47, said: “I’m sure the banter will be flying around the changing room tonight.

“Just like it was when I was at Rovers as a kid.

“I was at Doncaster as an apprentice and then as a pro for a year in 1982/83 and they were fantastic times.

“There was some great banter about the place.

“Dave Harle’s manager of the legends team tonight but I’m sure there’ll be some flak aimed at him because of his changing shape and size!

“And Ian Snodin’s always got something to say.

“I like to keep myself in decent shape and I always do pre-season with our lads.

“It’ll be interesting to see what sort of condition the other lads are in - no doubt there’ll be a few jokes about size and respirators!

“But in all seriousness I’m very humbled about the whole event and the reaction I’ve had from people.

“I’ve been working hard to try and get everything organised - I’m not just manager here but I have to do quite a bit of work on the commercial side of things too.

“But it’ll all be worth it.

“Apart from Paul Raven and Scott Maxfield, I played with everyone who’s agreed to be part of the Rovers legends team - so it’ll be a great night for me, and a great night for Armthorpe.”

Bennett’s most successful campaign in charge of Armthorpe came the season before last when Welfare reached the fourth round of the FA Vase and narrowly missed out on the league title.

Now in his 13th year as manager, Bennett is optimistic about the future of the club and hopes to be around when ambitious plans for the club to relocate to a new purpose-built stadium come to fruition.

“When I first started out at Armthorpe I would never have envisaged I’d still be here 23 years later,” he said.

“But as the seasons have gone by my enthusiasm hasn’t waned one bit.

“I’ve almost become institutionalised at this place!

“The highlight for me was definitely the season before last.

“We were inches away from reaching the FA Vase final and that is something we’d have liked to have achieved - but it just wasn’t meant to be.

“We had a bad winter and the weather ruined our chances really.

“Man for man we were as good as Wroxham but we went into that game without having played for about six or seven weeks.

“I’m still enjoying it as much as I did all those years ago,” he added.

“We lost a few good players last season - including Liam Hardy who I think will go onto much bigger things in the future.

“It’s one of the best things about this job when you get a player who goes on to play at a higher level and earn good money.

“We’ve got a good group of lads here now though and I think they can give Rovers a run for their money.

“It’s all about what they do on the night.

“But I’m just looking forward to the whole occasion.

“It’ll be great to catch up with people and hopefully the supporters will enjoy the entertainment on the night.”

n Des Bennett’s testimonial gets underway at 6pm tonight when a team of Doncaster Rovers legends take on a general public XI who have donated money to Armthorpe Welfare FC to play.

Rovers against Armthorpe kicks off at 7.30pm.

Tickets will be available on the turnstiles at the Welfare Ground, priced £6 for adults and £4 concessions.