A prolific goal scorer as a schoolboy, Forest Gate, London born right half Ted Fenton joined the West Ham schoolboys eleven and won an England schoolboys cap against Scotland at Ibrox Park in 1929. He played non league football for Ilford and Colchester Town before signing professional for West Ham United in 1931. He made his Football League debut at Bradford City in September 1932 and from 1934 played regularly until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, during which he joined the Army and served as a PT instructor in North Africa and Burma.
Fenton was a member of the West Ham United team that beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0 in the Football League War Cup Final played at Wembley on 8th June 1940. He returned to Upton Park after the War and played 4 FA Cup ties during the 1945-46 competition but these would be his last, Fenton had made 179 appearances and scored 19 goals in first class games for the Hammers. He also made 204 appearances and scored 44 goals during wartime fixtures.
In 1946 Fenton went on to become player-manager at Southern League club Colchester United. Fenton was fairly successful at Layer Road and Colchester reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in the 1947-48 season, but he returned to Upton Park in 1948 to become assistant manager to Charlie Paynter before becoming manager of West Ham in August 1950. Fenton’s greatest achievement was in winning the Second Division Championship in the 1957-58 season and thereby securing top flight football for The Hammers for the first time since 1932. The 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons saw them achieve two goalscoring records; in 1957-58 101 League goals in a season and in 1958-59, 59 home League goals in a season which was even more remarkable being the season following promotion to Division One.
During his time Fenton was responsible for establishing “The Academy” and the development of youth teams that reached the F.A. Youth Cup Final twice in three years over the period 1956-59. With the help of chairman Reg Pratt he was also responsible for encouraging as many players as possible in taking their FA Coaching Badges to ensure the players had something to fall back on when their playing days were over.
Fenton’s departure from West Ham in March 1961 has never been fully explained by the club. Under strain and on sick-leave and with West Ham’s League position suffering he left the club under circumstances which both he and the club decided would remain confidential. He was succeeded as manager in 1961 by Ron Greenwood. Seven of the West Ham 1964 FA Cup winning team had either been signed by Ted Fenton from other clubs, or had worked their way up from the Academy during his time as manager. Following his exit from West Ham, Fenton had four undistinguished years as manager of Southend United from March 1961 before his dismissal in May 1965 after which he retired from professional football.
His younger brother Benny Fenton was also a West Ham United player who had success with Charlton Athletic and played for and managed both Colchester United and Millwall, as well as managing Leyton Orient.