It’s rare in modern football for one man to have such an impact on a football club, but in his 17 year association with Morecambe FC, Jim Bentley did just that.
A trainee at Manchester City, Bentley moved to AFC Telford at the age of 21, following in the footsteps of his father Jack Bentley, a Telford club legend who scored 431 goals for the club.
After five years at Telford, Bentley joined Morecambe in 2002, making over 300 appearance for the Shrimps, leading them to promotion to League Two as captain.
A centre-back with an eye for goal, Bentley was a commanding figure on the field, and famously captained the Shrimps at Wembley in their playoff final win against Exeter City, in front of 40,000 fans.
After four years playing in League Two, Bentley was offered the role as manager after the departure of Sammy McIlroy, officially taking charge on 13th May 2011.
Just 35 at the time, the move represented a big early opportunity for Bentley, who had experience with managing the reserve side which he says, “put [him] in good stead on how and when to distance himself.” 1
So began Bentley’s reign at the Globe Arena, one that would see him become the longest-serving manager in the top four English leagues, serving eight years and five months in the post.
Despite always being “the favourites to go down” 2, Bentley defied the odds season after season to keep The Shrimps in the Football League.
Working through transfer embargoes, financial difficulties and a change of ownership at Morecambe has been “very, very hard” 3, but through it, Bentley has kept The Shrimps motivated on the pitch.
Bentley’s affinity with Morecambe and their fans was plain to see, no more so than in 2017, when the fans chipped together to pay a £1000 fine that Bentley was slapped with by The FA.
The decision to leave the Globe Arena was no doubt a difficult one for Bentley, and as the emotional outpouring since Morecambe’s statement earlier this morning show, it’s one also felt by the fans.
To read more on Jim Bentley’s appointment, click here to read the official announcement.
1 – The Set Pieces – ‘Jim Bentley Managing Morecambe’.
2 – The Telegraph – ‘Jim Bentley – England’s longest-serving manager’
3 – SportsMole – ‘Interview: Morecambe manager Jim Bentley opens up about club’s financial struggles’