Links Park Legends - Mark Bennett
When Ian Stewart arrived at Links Park he knew that he had to quickly strengthen the squad that he had inherited and among the players that he brought in to bolster the midfield was a young player called Mark Bennett.
As a youngster, Mark had spent a couple of years at Brechin and had then had a spell at Gayfield, so that Ian was well aware of his capabilities and made him one of his first signings.
Although Mark admits that he was never the fastest player in the game he brought a bit of steel to the midfield and scored many valuable goals for his new club. He certainly played an important part in the Club winning the Second Division Championship.
One of his most important goals was the second goal against Hearts at Tynecastle on that wonderful night when the Jambos, unbeaten at home over a period of fifteen months, found themselves on the wrong side of a two - nil scoreline.
Mark says that life at Montrose was never dull, with Les Barr and Mick McManus behind many of the stunts and jokes played on their team mates. That night may have been a cause for celebration but it didn't stop the japes. After the Hearts game Mark found that someone had cut the toes out of his socks. He still doesn't know who the culprit was but he has his suspicions!
But Mark says that it was the fun that made being at Links Park so enjoyable and he even looked forward to training as there was generally some light relief. He does admit however that he was rarely the butt of any of the jokes; his image meant that few of the other players were prepared to push him too far. After all he had a reputation to live up to, John Sheran having christened him 'The Tank,' a nickname that has stayed with him.
A 'flavour' of what used to happen was that on occasion Les Barr would put his training socks in the tea. He would then pour out the tea for everyone, although Mark says that he never allowed anyone to drink the unpleasant brew.
But Mark still talks happily of his time at Links Park and how he went from playing for junior Club, Forfar West End, to winning a championship medal at Montrose in just over a year. He enjoyed his time at the Club and admits that he would have preferred to stay instead of signing for Forfar Athletic.
But perhaps his best tale is of the pre match talk given by Les Barr. With manager Stewart out of the room Les launched himself into a take-off of the manager, going round each player in turn saying what he expected him to do during the game. Unfortunately for Les the dressing room door wasn't properly closed and Ian Stewart came in while Les was in full flow.
The manager informed him that if they won he would let Les do the talk the following week. Mark says the team did win, but the 'experiment' was not repeated.
© Forbes Inglis 2005