Rutherglen, Lanarkshire born inside forward Alec Bennett played youth football for Rutherglen Woodburn and then for Rutherglen Glencairn from 1900 to 1903. In 1902 Bennett was selected for the Scotland Junior team for matches along with another man who would soon be a teammate at Celtic, Davie Hamilton, scoring four goals in as many Junior internationals overall, before playing in a trial match for Hearts against Celtic at outside right in May 1903 to such effect that Glasgow Celtic signed him the next day.
He made his Scottish League debut against Partick Thistle in August 1903 in a 2-1 Celtic victory. Slight in build, Bennett created havoc in the final third of the pitch with an array of attributes which included great speed and trickery on the ball allied with an ability to score important goals. Initially a centre forward, he made way for Jimmy Quinn and moved out on to the wing, where he became an elusive and often brilliant outside right. He soon became a member of arguably Celtic’s greatest ever forward line (Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton) notable for an outstanding attacking partnership with Jimmy McMenemy, with whom he’d played junior football at Rutherglen. He was described in contemporary reports as “a veritable artful dodger with rare speed and command of the ball.”
Bennett certainly set the heather on fire, and after being a hat-trick hero as The Celts walloped St Mirren 5-2 in the Glasgow Charity Cup Final of 1903, Bennett became a fixture in the side which won the League Title for four consecutive years between 1905 and 1908. In the latter two years of this streak Bennett also collected Scottish Cup winner’s medals. Adored by the Celtic supporters (at least until he joined Rangers), one fan penetrated the pavilion, enquired which were Bennett’s boots and began to extract the laces. He winked to Alec ‘Icicle’ McNair and proclaimed ‘I’ll keep these. Just a wee souvenir.’
Bennett made his international debut for Scotland during his first full season at Parkhead, playing in a 1-1 draw against Wales at Dens Park, Dundee on 12th March 1904, before joining rivals Glasgow Rangers as a free agent in May 1908, who met a small contract release fee of £50, after 53 goals in 152 appearances for The Bhoys. Bennett scored on his debut for Rangers in a win over Port Glasgow Athletic
Bennett won further honours with the Ibrox club including three successive Scottish Championships from 1911 to 1913, he won eleven Scotland caps through to his final appearance in a 2-1 win over Ireland at Dalymount Park, Dublin in March 1913, scoring twice for his country including a goal in his final match, and he also represented The Scottish League on ten occasions between 1905 and 1912. In total he scored 53 goals in 201 appearances over nine seasons for Glasgow Rangers making his last appearance in December 1916. No other player has played more for both Glasgow clubs.
During the First World War he also played for Ayr United and also served in The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). He joined Dumbarton, where he scored 8 times in 43 matches for The Sons in 1919-20, and he ended his playing career at Albion Rovers in 1920-21, where he scored 3 goals in 30 appearances before hanging up his boots. At the age of 39 he also took part in a 1921 summer tour of North America as a member of ‘Third Lanark Scotland XI’ (organised by Third Lanark and composed of players from seven different clubs), reuniting with old team mate and rival Jimmy McMenemy; Bennett subsequently managed Third Lanark from 1921 to 1924 and Clydebank from 1924 to 1926 and wrote a football column for the Daily Record.
Bennett’s younger brother James was also a footballer who played as a winger for Glasgow amateur club Queen’s Park 6 times between 1910 and 1914. In November 1914, three months after Britain’s entry into the First World War, James Bennett enlisted in the Highland Light Infantry. While holding the rank of sergeant, he received a gunshot wound to the back on 15th July 1916, but survived.
Bennett’s grandson, Sandy Carmichael, was a famous Scotland rugby international, capped 50 times between 1969 and 1979, he also played for the British Lions in the 1970’s, and was awarded the MBE.