West Ham, London born inside right and later right half Benny Fenton began his football career with Colchester Town, from where he signed for Second Division club West Ham United in October 1935, making his Football League debut against Fulham in October 1937, playing alongside his older brother Ted, one of three appearances he made in his breakthrough season. The following campaign he had scored 9 goals in 19 matches for West Ham when he was signed by Second Division club Millwall in March 1939, playing 2 matches for The Lions before the season end. Fenton never gained full international honours, but toured South Africa with the Football Association in the summer of 1939, playing 3 matches on tour before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 forced the abandonment of peacetime football.
Fenton joined the Essex Regiment during the War, and guested for former club West Ham United in November 1944, also playing for Norwich City, Manchester City, Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace, York City and Cardiff City as a wartime guest. He also represented an FA Services XI against Switzerland on 24th July 1945. before returning to Millwall, where he played in their 1946 FA Cup campaign and in their first post war League season, but half way through that season Fenton joined First Division club Charlton Athletic in January 1947 after 7 goals in 23 appearances for Millwall either side of the War.
It was at Charlton that he spent most of his playing career, and although he started to play at right half as well as in the forward line while still at Millwall, he played in both positions for spells until 1950, after which he only generally played as a half back. Becoming The Addicks’ club captain in 1950, and missing only three matches between 1950-51 and 1952-53, in the latter season he was an ever present for Charlton, he had nine seasons at The Valley, all in the First Division, until he signed for Third Division (South) club Colchester United as their player-manager in February 1955 after 22 goals in 275 appearances for Charlton Athletic.
He narrowly missed out on promotion in the 1956-57 campaign, after Colchester finished a single point behind both Ipswich Town and Torquay United and played on into the 1957-58 season, playing his final match for the club in a 4-2 home win against Southampton, aged 39 years, 185 days in on 1st May 1958, by when he had scored 15 goals in 106 appearances for The U’s. After suffering relegation in 1960-61, he led the team to promotion after finishing as Fourth Division runners-up in 1961-62.
Fenton joined Leyton Orient as manager in November 1963 but he was sacked after 56 games in charge in December 1964. He went on to take the manage’s job at Millwall on 1st May 1966, towards the end of the 1965-66 season. The season saw the south London club win promotion to the Second Division (the club’s second promotion in succession), and the club would set a record of 59 home League games unbeaten in December 1966. Millwall spent the rest of Fenton’s tenure in England’s second tier; the closest The Lions came to promotion under Fenton was in 1972, with a point separating them from runners up Birmingham City. He left the club on 3rd October 1974, and is the club’s longest serving post-war manager.
In January 1977, he re-joined Charlton Athletic as secretary. He became assistant manager of The Addicks in March 1980 and progressed to the position of general manager in June 1981. He stayed in with the club until June 1982 before his retirement.
His older brother Ted Fenton played with him at West Ham United and had also been player manager of Colchester United after the War. But he is best known for an eleven year spell as manager of West Ham United, also later managing Southend United.