Nicknamed “Cocky”, Mexborough, Yorkshire born inside or outside right Walter Bennett played for Sheffield United between 1896 and 1905 after joining them from Mexborough Town for a £10 transfer fee, making his Football League debut at West Bromwich Albion in February 1896. Initially supporters felt Bennett had a surly attitude and was not fit enough to play at the top level as he was a heavy, thick-set man. Dropping two stones following a fitness regime, however, he showed a good turn of speed and became a mainstay of the Blades side that dominated the game in that period.
His career with Sheffield United included winning the League Championship in 1898, when Bennett was The Blades’ top scorer with 12 goals, and the FA Cup in both 1899 and 1902, when they beat Derby County and Southampton respectively at The Crystal Palace, Bennett also being a member of their losing 1901 Final team beaten by Tottenham Hotspur. He scored the first goal in the 1899 Final and also scored the second equaliser in the drawn first Final match with Spurs in 1901.
He was capped twice by England, making his international debut in a win over Wales at St James’ Park in March 1901, playing against Scotland at the end of the same month at The Crystal Palace.
Bennett played his last match for Sheffield United in March 1905 before moving to Bristol City later the same month, having scored 72 goals in 232 appearances for The Blades. He then spent two years at Ashton Gate helping them win the Second Division Championship in 1906, when he scored a career best 20 goals in the campaign, including a hat-trick in a win over Burslem Port Vale in March 1906. He managed 22 goals in his 49 appearances for City, he then joined non league Denaby United in 1907 before retiring from the game. Bennett was killed in April 1908 following a roof fall at Denaby Main Colliery as he was making his way back to the surface after his shift, leaving a widow and four children.
He was from a footballing family. His brother William played for The Wednesday and appeared in the 1890 FA Cup Final, whilst another brothers Harry, known as ‘Tip”, and George both played for Barnsley.