Geoff Bent

The Loyal Defender

Living across the Manchester Ship Canal from Old Trafford, Salfordian Geoff Bent’s first medal was presented by his local Humane Society, in 1946 after he saved a youngster from drowning. One year later he was decorated for his footballing prowess; captaining Salford Schools to the England Schools Trophy. It was this performance that caught the attention of several top clubs. They did not reckon, however, with Bent’s mother, who was reluctant for her only child to move away from home. Mrs Bent steered her son towards Manchester United and he signed shortly before his 16th birthday.
Bent captained his local schoolboys side to victory in 1947.

 

A skilled defender who was aggressive in the tackle, Bent was versatile enough to operate on either flank. However, despite making a name for himself in United’s youth and reserve sides, he struggled to emerge from the shadow of United’s captain, and England international, Roger Byrne. Bent would make just twelve appearances for the first team, though only one of these was a loss. Within this handful of appearances was an experience he regarded as a career highlight - winning the ball off the great Tom Finney. Plenty of observers believe that Bent could have walked into any other first team in the country. Although he would twice ask for a transfer, Matt Busby refused as he felt that Bent was too important to the club.

Although Bent struggled to break through into the first team, he remained loyal to United. During the 1956/57 season, he notched up exactly half of his Manchester United appearances.

 

Injury prone Bent twice broke his leg, showing determination in his recoveries. In the meantime, he supplemented his income by taking work as a joiner to support his wife Marion, who he married in 1953. A family man, Bent was dedicated to his wife and daughter, and had a joking relationship with his neighbour. On Christmas day 1957 his neighbour had awoken the Bent household by poking a flute through the letterbox and playing high pitch notes. In revenge, when leaving in the early hours of the morning for Belgrade, Bent hammered on his neighbour’s door.

Geoff Bent relaxing while playing a game of snooker with his team mates.

 

United had initially intended to take half-back Ronnie Cope to Belgrade to give him experience of a European trip. However when Roger Byrne complained of a thigh strain, Cope was replaced by Geoff Bent as a reserve. Although he was hesitant, Bent was persuaded to travel. The decision was to prove fatal.