Yorston Benny Image 4 Sunderland 1934

Yorston Benny Image 4 Sunderland 1934


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Only 5 foot 3 inches tall, Nigg, near Aberdeen born inside forward Benny Yorston was a Scottish schoolboy and junior international who began his football career with junior club Kittybrewster in 1923 and played for Aberdeen Mugiemoss in 1924 and Aberdeen Richmond in 1925 before joining Montrose in September 1926 after unsuccessful trials with Alloa Athletic, Hibernian and Forfar Athletic.

He spent only six months with The Gable Endies before returning north to sign for Aberdeen in March 1927 for £40, making his Aberdeen debut at the beginning of the 1927-28 season, in which he scored 17 goals in  28 appearances. It was the start of a period of prolific marksmanship as he notched 32 goals in 35 appearances in 1928-29 and a club record 47 goals in 42 appearances in 1929-30. Described as “energetic and quick, he snaps up chances with remarkable coolness” and as a “harassing type of leader”, he won a single cap for Scotland, playing for his country in a 0-0 draw with Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast, in February 1931. In addition he was a non playing reserve in three other internationals. By the time he was sold to First Division Sunderland for £2,000 in January 1932, he had scored 126 goals in 156 appearances for The Dons, still a club record goals to games ratio.

His circumstances surrounding his departure from Aberdeen were however somewhat unusual. Yorston was one of five Aberdeen players dropped after a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock late in 1931. At the time, the reasons were not clear, but the club’s official history claims that several players had been involved in a betting scandal. No players were ever charged with any offence, but none of them ever played for Aberdeen again.

He made his Football League debut at Blackpool at the end of January, scoring in a 3-2 defeat, and by the end of the season he’d bagged 12 goals in only 17 appearances. Despite this he found it difficult to get a regular place at Roker Park and his goals ratio waned, and by the time he was sold to Middlesbrough for £1,250 in March 1934 he had scored 26 goals in 52 appearances.

He continued to play for Middlesbrough for five full seasons until peacetime football was suspended with the onset of the Second World War, by when he had scored 54 goals in 161 appearances for ‘Boro. During the War he guested for Aldershot, Reading, West Ham United, and Lincoln City in England as well as St Mirren (where he scored 6 goals in 14 appearances between November 1939 and March 1940), Hibernian, East Fife and Hamilton Academical in Scotland, before joining Dundee United, where he made a single appearance in November 1945 before his retirement.

Benny’s nephew Harry scored 141 goals in 278 appearances for Aberdeen in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and also a Scotland international.

NB although published after his transfer to Middlesbrough, in the image he is clearly wearing the stripes of Sunderland.

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