Geoff Bent was born on the 27 September 1932 in Irlams o’ th’ Height in Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire, the only child of miner Clifford Bent and his wife Clara Bent. In the summer of 1948, after leaving school, Bent signed for Manchester United and was playing in the youth and reserve teams of the day. He became a professional player for the club in 1951 not making his first team debut until the 1954/55 season.
Bent never held a regular place in the first team, instead playing as cover for Roger Byrne and Bill Foulkes in the fullback positions. During the 1954/55 season, Bent played twice for United. The following season (1955/56) he played four times. During the 1956/57 season, he played six times, making a total of 12 appearances for the club at first team level. His first appearance came in a 4-2 away victory over Burnley (11 December 1954) with his last coming in a 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur (6 April 1957)
“Geoff Bent was a true, local Salford lad. He captained Salford Lads to the English Schools Trophy in late 1940s, I always remember him as left back not a left winger, that reverse role had been Roger Byrne.”
During the 1957/58 season, Bent had not made any appearances for the club as he was recovering from a broken foot and only travelled to Belgrade, Yugoslavia ahead of the match with Red Star Belgrade as cover for Roger Byrne, who was recovering from his own injury with hit fitness a doubt. Obviously, at 25 at the time of his death, Bent was entering what is now considered the peak of his career.
Despite Bent not playing a big part for the first team at United, he did play a part in the Central League which was founded in 1911 and ceased at the end of the 2015/16 season. This was a reserve league and something United won nine times – once during the time Bent played for the club. You can find out more about his appearances here.
“Now you could ask did he lack ambition, but then again, we were in the minimum wage era so a good player at United would not get more at Tottenham, except more first team games.
“But then again, his family and life was in Salford so why move? Happy, in a great club, all his mates around him. A top class left back, and it took a world class full back to keep him out of the side.”
Bent was survived by both of his parents, his wife, Marion Mallandaine who he married in Bolton in 1953 and their daughter, Karen an only child who was born in September 1957 – around five months old at the time of her father’s death. Bent was buried in St. John’s Churchyard in Irlams o’ th’ Height. A dedicated professional, Bent was the sort of player every club needed and he could have played for any first division club, had he survived.
A broken plane, a broken dream, a broken heart, a broken team, no word said, a silent vow, we loved you then, we love you now. We’ll never die.
Written by John Walker