Burnley clash ideal for tribute – Bond

Saturday's Championship fixture with Burnley would be a fitting way for Norwich City to pay tribute to John Benson, according to former boss John Bond.

One-time Canaries defender Benson, 67, died in Prestbury, just south of Manchester, on Saturday after a short illness and two of his – and Bond's – former clubs meet this weekend at Carrow Road.

Benson spent just over a year as a player with City and later had spells as youth team coach and scout, and briefly as assistant manager. He also managed Burnley.

It is understood both clubs are in discussions over how to best pay tribute to him, with black armbands being worn by the players a possible outcome.

And Bond believes his former player, coach and long-time friend deserves to have his service with City marked.


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'There certainly should be some tribute to John because he served Norwich for years and there isn't anybody who has ever signed and played for Norwich and been at that football club and pride themselves and done better than that fellow,' said Bond, whose regard for Benson is shared by his son Kevin, former City captain and now Tottenham assistant manager.

'They should really hold everything for him because he did a great job there and he was a great lad. I know Sir Arthur South (former City chairman) and his son and people loved him to bits.

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'As far as I was concerned, and I know my son and my family all felt the same about him, he was a lovely fellow who we liked an awful lot.

'My son Kevin was as close as I was to him, and my daughter sobbed her heart out when she knew he had gone. It was so sad. He'll be a sad, sad miss to all of us.'

Wherever Bond went as manager, Benson seemed to follow – as the former City manager admitted.

'He was a lovely man first of all, I got on famously with him from day one,' said Bond.

'I finished my 16 years at West Ham and I went to Torquay for a period and John was there, and I made great friends with him as soon as I got there. He was that sort of lad. He was really a good, lovely, genuine man.'

Bond had not been Bournemouth manager 'for two minutes' before he took Benson with him, and in 1973 he repeated the trick with Norwich.

'I knew he was 31 at the time and I'd find it very difficult to persuade Norwich to pay a fee for him, but I got them to pay �9,000 for him,' recalled Bond,

'We were in the first division, he got in the first team and played all sorts of positions that other people couldn't play.

'He was as limited as hell as a footballer! But he got in the side. His application, his dedication to the job was fantastic.'

In between Norwich and Burnley was a stint at Manchester City, where Benson joined Bond as assistant manager in 1980, while Benson later returned to Norwich in 1994 as part of John Deehan's management team – and briefly assistant to Gary Megson in 1995. He had previously replaced Bond as Burnley manager on his departure.

Bond's abiding memory of Benson came while coaching him at Norwich: 'We used to do this thing in training where two players would have the ball and let it run across their body and control it, and I knew every time he would put himself in a knot really.

'I used to put it on and the others could do it but he couldn't and he used to give me unmerciful stick – he'd say 'You . . . you've only put that on for me!' Bond laughed.

'But I could play him right-back, right side of midfield, behind the centre-half, I used to tell him what I wanted from him and he absorbed it better than anybody. I knew if I played him I would get a performance from him.

'He came up to Manchester and we used to see each other regularly right up until now. He was one of my favourite men of my lifetime and I loved him to bits.'

Benson's funeral will be held in Prestbury on Wednesday (1.30pm).

Bond still keeps an eye on the 'magic little club' he managed between 1973 and 1980, and is glad City's fortunes have taken a turn for the better.

'I haven't seen them for some time but I keep tabs on them in terms of watching the results regularly. I just interest myself with how they are going,' said Bond.

'I probably keep an eye on Norwich more than anybody because I had my best time there. I absolutely loved it and in many ways it was a sad day when I left it really – I shouldn't have left, but you can't do anything about that now.

'But I watch out for them and they're now back in the Championship under Paul Lambert.

'They've had a lot of success in the past, under Brownie (Ken Brown) as well. It is a good club and a well supported club and the supporters appreciated how we played and what we did there.

'They are supported well enough to be in the top division. They're getting something like 25,000 average crowds. They deserve a bit of success, and they deserve a half-decent team when they give that support to them.

'It was a magic little club, I loved it there.'

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