Beighton, near Sheffield born inside right Jackie Bestall started his football career with local club Beighton Miners Welfare before signing for Rotherham County in 1924 making his Football League debut at Barrow in April 1925. The following season he was ever present scoring 12 goals in Rotherham County’s final season, and he played in the first season of the merged Rotherham United team during which he was sold to Grimsby Town for £700 in November 1926 to help Rotherham with their financial difficulties after 16 goals in 64 games for The Millers.
A diminutive craftsman full of guile and possessed of outstanding constructive qualities, he became a stalwart and legend of the club, and was club captain of Grimsby through most of the 1930’s amidst the club’s greatest period in their history, rarely missing games over the next 12 seasons which saw Grimsby promoted to the First Division in 1929 as Second Division runners up. Although relegated in 1932 they returned as Second Division Champions in 1934, finishing 5th in the League Championship in 1934-35. Bestall was also an FA Cup semi finalist with Grimsby in 1936 when they lost narrowly 1-0 to eventual winners Arsenal at Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
He won his only England cap aged 34 in February 1935 against Ireland at Goodison Park, the first ever Grimsby Town player to play for England, although he was soon followed by Harry Betmead and George Tweedy. He retired in 1938 after 83 goals in 457 games for The Mariners, an appearances record for Grimsby eventually surpassed by Keith Jobling in 1968, joining Birmingham City as their coach in June 1938.
He became the club’s assistant manager during the War years, until 14th July 1944, when he became an assistant trainer-coach at Doncaster Rovers. Bestall was then appointed their manager on 12th March 1946 until 14th April 1949, when he took up a similar position at Blackburn Rovers on 23rd June 1949, succeeding Jack Bruton. He resigned on 5 May 1953. He was then appointed manager at Nelson on 3rd January 1954, until his resignation again, this time on 25th November 1954.
He applied, unssuccessfully, for the vacant managerial role at Grimsby Town in March 1955 before returning to Doncaster Rovers, where his son Derek was the club secretary, on 1st August 1958, initially as chief scout, stepping up to team manager from 6th March 1959, when Jack Crayston moved upstairs to become the secretary-manager, remaining until August 1960. He has a street named after him in Grimsby.
NB in the photograph he stands on the left with Grimsby team mates Pat Glover and Charlie Craven.