Often Partisan

Do You Remember When… Benno Saved A Penno From Shearer?

Blues have been blessed with some great keepers – in the last decade we’ve had three England international players in Jack Butland, Ben Foster and Joe Hart; Boaz Myhill is a current Welsh international, Maik Taylor was a Northern Irish international and Thomas Myhre was capped by Norway. However my favourite player to play between the sticks for Blues never gained international honors and has only played eighteen games in the top flight in a career spanning 447 league games over twenty years. That player was of course Ian Bennett and the match I wanted to talk about today was one of his finest hours.

Back in 1999 Blues had been out of the top flight for thirteen years and whilst Blues went close it looked like for a while that they were never going to make the final jump to the big leagues. At the time I was working the night shift in a factory about a mile away from St Andrews, and as luck would have it I was surrounded by supporters of that club over the expressway. In those days the claret and blue mob were very much in the ascendancy in the city and they had recent memories of cup glory – something that my colleagues liked to rub in my face as one of the few Bluenoses around.

Blues had drawn Newcastle United out of the hat having disposed of Exeter City and Bristol City in the previous rounds of the League Cup. The third round was to take place on 12 October 199 and I had my ticket to sit in the Tilton and hopefully witness a cup upset. I remember being ribbed the night before about how Alan Shearer was going to tear us apart and how we were going to take a tanking from the Toon. Bearing in mind the match beforehand we’d lost to Walsall at the Bescot, I wasn’t that hopeful although we were unbeaten at home that season.

It was a fairly decent crowd that night, and I remember it being in good voice but we were silenced three minutes in when Newcastle won a penalty. I can’t honestly remember what they got it for, but I can remember the feeling of “oh no, here we go” when Alan Shearer stepped up to take it. Shearer was in his pomp then; an England stalwart, a clinical finisher and here he’d been given a gilt-edged chance to start the demolition job for Newcastle United from 12 yards. In goal for Blues was Ian Bennett; six foot tall in his studs (or so he says) and one of my first Blues heroes. What he didn’t have in height he made up in an incredible shot-stopping ability – I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a finer and more agile shot-stopper at Blues before or since.

The penalty was at the Tilton end, and the whole end was on its feet as Shearer stepped up. It was one of those moments where you could cut the tension with a knife, where you could almost see the collective jinx being sent out to Shearer from the Blues fans to miss. He stepped up and hit the ball to the right. Benno flung himself to the right, and pushed it away. Cue roars of absolute jubilation – Benno had kept out Shearer… maybe, just maybe tonight was going to be our night. It galvanised the players too; we matched them all over the park and we had them rattled. Benno was applauded every time he touched the ball, Shearer jeered.

On the stroke of half time, it got even better. Andy “AJ” Johnson was sent sprawling in the area by Steve Harper as the young striker tried to round him and Rennie pointed to the spot. Even better, he flourished a red card at the second-choice Toon keeper and this time it was Martyn O’Connor versus the substitute Shay Given. O’Connor showed Shearer how it was done, sticking the ball in the back of the net and Blues went in at the break a goal to the good.

The second half was more of the same – rash challenges from Newcastle who were lucky to finish the game with ten men and more defensive errors. I have to be honest and say that I can’t remember much else in the game – apparently Gary Speed hit the post – and whilst I can just about remember Pursey scoring a header the biggest memory I have was the feeling of elation as I walked into work, looking forwards to giving it the big ‘un about how it was to be our year.

Of course it wasn’t – we went out of the cup in the next round 3-2 to West Ham at St Andrews and took a hammering from Barnsley in the playoffs. But for that one sweet night it was all about how our keeper had kept out the best striker in the country.

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19 Responses to “Do You Remember When… Benno Saved A Penno From Shearer?”

  • kentucky blue says:

    Ian bennett was a great keeper and a great servant to the club. Talking of keepers anyone remember the other end of the scale in the shape of andy gosney

  • Roz Smith says:

    Its an odd memory for me this one, as usual we were late as my brother was rarely on time for anything, and we’ve had to run to the ground. We jog into the stadium to see Silvio Maric is through and one on one with the keeper, except its not the keeper its Darren Purse, and he saves it. Purse gets a yellow card and Shearer misses the resultant penalty. It should have been a red, not sure why it wasn’t. Weirdly I think Purse had been in goal for us or been the 2nd choice keeper or something in the previous game as we’d only got one fit keeper at the time, that bit is a bit vague in my memory though. It is still one of my fave memories though to retell, I saw Shearer miss a pen, not as good as my father’s I saw Don Bradman out for a duck, but still pretty good.

  • david says:

    I was at that match and was very lucky to have met the great Bobby Robson outside the main reception area in the Kop he was a lovely man and signed autographs for everyone, the match and result was an even bigger bonus

  • Kaje says:

    I remember it well, I was sitting in the Kop that night! Great game!

    I similarly remember the 5-1 drubbing we gave Newcastle in 2007, with Shearer giving it the big guns in the pre-match punditry only to be left absolutely speechless at the final whistle. Great days.

  • prewarblue says:

    Blues have always been known for their great keepers over the years,,,,,,at one stage in the 1920/30,s we had all the national keepers on our books ,England ,Scotland,Wales,Northern Ireland,Irish Free State AND the England amatuer !,,,,,,,Dan Tremmeling,Harry Hibbs,Gil Merrick are just three of the greatest keepers we have had over the years.

    One that does stand out in my memory though,,,,,,chosen for Scotland,,,,first game for them 0-6 defeat and mainly his fault,,,,,never played again I think,,,,,,became world famous as the pen name of a Yorkshire vet,,,,,,,Yep Jim Herriot,,,,,,you never knew what you would get with Jim,,,,brilliance or a load of crap

  • Cozy says:

    I remember this well too. All my family are brummies but I was born in the south so was always the only bluenose in the pub when ever we were on tele. Good times!

    I seem to remember Benno being out injured for a while beforehand with that penalty save being his first touch back? Maybe I’m wrong…

  • Macc lad says:

    Roz Smith. I think Bennet had been injured, and Kevin Poole (I think) had been sent off the week before, and with no sub keeper Darren Purse went in nets.
    Bennet was a good keeper, but his lack of height and poor postional play meant that he was always going to be back up when we finally got to the Premier. If Bennet could have combined his reactions with Maik Taylors height and good positioning he would surely have gone on to play for England.
    That reminds me of the best keeper I saw pull on the royal blue, David Seaman. Had to be close though, as I loved Tony Coton, and remeber Jim Montgomery playing the scond half of a match for us with a broken arm!

    • Trevor Honnor says:

      I remember something else like this with both keepers being injured or unavailable and us getting Thomas Myhre a day before we played Wolves at home. He saved a penalty early in the first half too. The whole place went nuts.

      I remember we won this game 1-0 (David Holdsworth scored) and it took us about 20 mins to get down the stairs in the Railway end afterwards. It virtually guaranteed us the play-offs (I think)

      I think this must have been around 1999/2000 (too lazy too google it) – I do know that Trevor Francis was still in charge at the time.

  • Trevor Honnor says:

    I remember this one very well. Back then I was working 2-10 shifts in a small engineering firm. The chap on the opposite shift was a gob-shite from Telford who happened to be a Newcastle fan. I’d heard it all during the change of shift on match day.

    I listened on the radio that night and I came charging out of the office shouting “Ask me which Geordie named Alan Shearer has just had a penalty saved at St Andrews?” – Yes I was being facetious.

    Next day I wore my old yellow away shirt to work but never said a word to Dave (Gob-shite). Instead I waited for him to say: “Go on then…. say it” as I started grinning he gave me a ton of abuse and went home. I grinned even more.

    With regards to Ian Bennett, I absolutely agree with this post, he was a brilliant goalkeeper. I thought he deserved a better crack at the Premier League than he actually got.

  • AR says:

    Almajir, Shearer hit it to his right & Benno dived to his left!

  • James says:

    Benno was a fantastic keeper and a great servant to the club – shame he didn’t get a decent crack at the premiership. Was he one of Barry Fry’s signings? My earliest memory of him was saving another pen/shot from the Albions Bob Taylor


  • PCTVOR says:

    Quiz time again.

    Who was our keeper who made just one appearance for us at an away game where a player snuck up from behind him, took the ball off his feet and netted.

  • Leigh says:

    Someone mentioned Jim Herriot of the ‘Panda Eyes’ a week or so ago. But no one, unless my eyes deceive, me mentioned John Schofield or Colin Withers !

  • Tamuffblue says:

    Great save – good goalie as well maybe lack of height was aprob – I read Benno,s tweets and he always has a good word for the Blues – top geezer !!!!!

  • Iggy says:

    Benno also saved a penalty from Graham Alexander (and he didn’t miss many) during normal time in the ill-fated Preston play-off, 2001. I’ve hated Moyes to this day.

  • Iggy says:

    It was Jim Blyth and not Montgomery who played for more than an hour with a broken arm.

    What about Coton’s penalty save in the first minute of his debut v Sunderland (27/12/1980)?

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