[arch-rivals] Baulkham Hills.” He was Vice Captain that year and was noted as an outstanding performer in the finals series. Coach Steve Patterson described Ben as “… a very skilful defender and ruck rover who marks brilliantly overhead. He … performed sensationally during the finals.”
In 2002, he won the Under 15 Best & Fairest Award, jointly with current club-mate Damien Dell’Aquilla. A lad named Kieren Jack was runner-up that year! His Under 15 Coach, another Demon veteran, Greg Barnes, described Ben as the “best centre half-back in the competition. [He] has not only played rock-steady defence, but has provided tremendous rebound footy running the lines and setting up forward attacks.” Thirteen years later, few would not argue that Ben still has these qualities in ample supply.
Ben made a tentative start with the senior club in 2004, playing a single game with the Under 18s. He returned in 2005 and played a further 11 under-age games and got a taste of open-age footy with a run in Reserve Grade. Daniel Kenny, U18s Coach that year noted Ben’s “… fantastic skills … complemented by hard straight line running.” Between 2006 and 2008 he played mainly third grade although he was increasingly being asked to play up in Ressies. He was runner-up Best & Fairest in 2006 (Joel McMullan was B&F) and then went one better in 2008, winning the third grade B&F. He played in consecutive premiership teams in 2007 and 2008.
In the Club’s 2008 Yearbook “Magic’s” Third Grade Coach, Simon Doak, remarked that Ben “was the creative and flamboyant Thirds half back … In finals he took the position to a new level, formulating attacking raids from his stylish skills. He had an outstanding defensive work rate … [and] driving the team forward with creative bursts of flair.” Pure Magic indeed!
In 2009 he transitioned to the Reserve Grade side where he has been a permanent fixture for the past seven seasons. During that time he was Reserve Grade’s Most Consistent in 2009 and 2011 and runner-up B&F in 2010. He played a single first grade match in 2011 and reached his 100 game milestone in 2012. As a mark of his leadership quality, he was Reserve Grade captain for three years running, 2012 to 2014.
For Ben, his father Rod, has been the greatest influence on his footy career. Apart from being a former Demon himself, Rod performed various coaching roles, particularly at the Junior club. As a measure of the pedigree that Ben brings to his footy, he notes that his grandfather, Perce Bentley, coached Carlton to two premierships in the 1940s and played 263 games for Richmond between 1925 and 1940, also winning two premierships including the 1934 flag as captain/coach … an illustrious career!
For Ben, the footy club has been a significant part of his life, “just a bunch of lads coming together doing what we love and doing it well”; that shared purpose and camaraderie that makes a great footy club. You wont “find a better club, not just the players, but also the parents, friends and old boys” that have shaped the footy club over the years and makes the Demon’s the envy of the community football scene in Sydney.
Throughout his footy career Magic has been renowned as a consistent and reliable back-man with a flair for turning defence into attacking rebound football. For his current Coach, Jason Clarke, Ben possesses “an amazing ability to read the play, something he uses to marked effect in Division 1 where he regularly intercepts opposition attacks.” Clarkey also notes that Magic is “a much loved character of the Club!” Playing on the halfback flank, he will have a key role in the Reserve Grade’s back six, as the team takes on the 2015 finals series.
Congratulations Magic on reaching your 150 game milestone!