TRIBUTES have been paid to former Reading FC manager and secretary Roy Bentley following his death last Friday at the age of 93.

Bentley spent the last years of his life in a nursing home near Reading.

In fact, Reading is where Bentley cut his managerial teeth following a distinguished playing career that spanned 16 years.

He made 559 league appearances and scored 175 goals in all following spells with Newcastle United, Chelsea, Fulham and QPR.

He was Chelsea’s captain and leading goalscorer when they became English champions for the first time in 1955, and remains their fifth, all-time record scorer with 130 goals in 324 league appearances.

Bentley was appointed manager by Reading in 1963 on a salary of £2,080, with a £2,000 Third Division promotion bonus and use of a car ‘up to the value of a Ford Consul’.

He worked alongside long-serving secretary Fred May at Elm Park and went close to winning promotion several times before his contract was not renewed in 1969.

The same year he moved to Swansea – the only other club he managed – and won promotion to the Third Division.

He departed South Wales in 1972 and moved back to the Reading area where he managed Thatcham Town before re-joining Royals as secretary between 1977 to 1984.

Bentley was also Aldershot Town secretary alongside Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris from 1985-86.

Royals historian, David Downs, said: “Roy did a lot of work behind the scenes and was a real innovator for the club.

“He was a real gent. He even brought about a change in formation from the traditional 2-3-5 to a new 4-4-2 concept and he also tinkered with the club’s colours from blue and white hoops to sky blue shirts.

“He would hold coaching session for school kids at Elm Park on Sundays and was very popular around the club.”

Bentley, who served in the Navy in the Second World War, was the last surviving member of England’s ill-stared 1950 squad that lost to USA in one of the World Cup’s greatest upsets. He won 12 England caps and scored nine goals.

During his formative years at Bristol City, his jobs included feeding elephants and giraffes on the pitch before training after they had been evacuated from Bristol Zoo because of the bombings.