Sutton defender Dale Bennett has announced his retirement from the game through injury at the age of 29. Dale joined us at the start of last season from Forest Green Rovers having helped them win promotion to the Football League, and ended last season with a clean sweep of the Player of the Year awards from the club, players and supporters.
Dale explained the reasons for his decision: ‘’Quite a few years ago when I was with Watford I was involved in a car crash and quite badly injured, and although I was able to recover from that and enjoy a good career, I think it’s caught up with me now. With Forest Green there was a lot of travelling involved, and although joining Sutton saw me closer to home (Hertfordshire) in terms of distance I was still travelling in a day for longer than I was playing or training and the long spells sitting in the car didn’t help.
Although I had a good season last season I didn’t think I was anywhere near the level I could have been and was always struggling with injuries – my left achilles, right knee and lower back have all been a problem, and the hamstring injury I’ve had this season, and the fact that I could only manage 70 minutes at Solihull before having to come off, convinced me that the time was right to call it a day. I’ve got businesses that I run from home, and a young family, and it was becoming too much to spend all day away from that to come training and watch players do what I’m no longer able to do, so it’s the right time to concentrate on my future. I know it will be a different life, but I’m not looking back, just forward.’’
Dale did look back, though, at his time with Sutton. ‘If last season was to be my last full season then what a way to go out, and it’s one I’m very proud of. The supporters have been unbelievable with me, and the chairman and management have always been brilliant and always looked after me. I will miss a lot of people, but I’m only just round the corner from JC and Harry, so I’m sure I’ll be coming back to watch some games, and I’m sure I’ll still be involved in football in some capacity through my businesses. I’ll be back next week anyway to give Clive my kit back!’’
Manager Matt Gray paid tribute to Dale: ‘’It’s obviously very disappointing news, but I fully respect Dale’s decision which I know wasn’t an easy one to make. It is a massive decision but he is adamant that he is at that stage. During the time I’ve been here Dale’s been superb as a player, a character and a person around the football club, and whatever he does in the future we wish him all the best and he will always be welcome at the club.’’
Chairman Bruce Elliott echoed Matt’s thoughts: ‘’During his time with us Dale has been a model clubman, and the accolades he received at the end of last season are a fitting testimony to his efforts on the pitch. It has been a pleasure to have him at Sutton United and he goes with our good wishes to him and his family for the future.’’