Looking Back at: Ken Fencott

Welcome to the latest look back at players of yesteryear, courtesy of Malcolm Johnson

Ken Fencott

Date of birth: 27.12.43 Born: Walsall Height: 5ft 8in

Position: Right winger/midfield

City appearances: League: 67(6), goals: 13 FA & League Cups: 9, goal: 1 Total: 76(6), goals: 14

Kenneth Sydney Fencott played for Walsall Boys and represented both Staffordshire Boys and Birmingham County Boys before joining Aston Villa as an amateur in 1959, turning professional in January 1961 at the age of 17.

He never really made the grade with Villa, playing just three times in the First Division and twice in the League Cup before being released in the summer of 1964. The 20-year-old right winger was immediately snapped up by Lincoln City manager Bill Anderson as he sought to strengthen the side that had finished mid-table in the Fourth Division the previous season.

1964/65 got off to a promising start for the Imps with Fencott scoring a goal on his debut playing alongside the other main summer signing, midfielder, John Hawksby, in a 4-2 win over Hartlepools United.

However, a poor run of results led to changes off the field with the board of directors taking over team selection from Anderson and towards the end of October although taking part in a 3-1 win over Aldershot, Fencott was dropped for the first time despite being second-highest scorer with four goals in the season so far. But after two successive defeats, he was restored to the side and responded with a man-of-the match performance, scoring one goal and making another in a 3-0 win over Southport at Sincil Bank. He then scored for a second league game in a row, although promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers went away with a 2-1 win. Fencott’s seventh goal of the season then contributed to a 3-1 victory over Third Division high-flyers Hull City in the FA Cup. However, two games later he was again dropped by the directors after a home draw with Rochdale a week before Christmas despite being the team’s joint top scorer. He then ‘went on strike’, returning to his home in Walsall and not turning up for a Boxing Day reserve game.

During his period of absence there were further changes off the field with former pre-war City defender Con Moulson put in charge of playing matters. His differences with club resolved, Fencott was then back in the side after an absence of six games and once again responded with a goal, although in a ‘Moulson-inspired’ 5-3 defeat at Chester. But when Moulson’s unhappy reign of eight defeats in eight games came to an end Fencott was out of the side again with new player-coach Roy Chapman preferring Roger Holmes on the right wing. Eventually restored to the side at the end of March, this time in midfield, Fencott once again responded with a goal on his return, but a 3-2 defeat at Aldershot was part of a run of six defeats in eight games that resulted in a bottom-four finish after one of the worst seasons ever experienced by the club. Fencott himself finished with the not unreasonable record of nine goals in a total of 39 games.

The 1965/66 season saw Fencott out of favour with manager Roy Chapman, as first teenager Roger Barton and then Roger Holmes were preferred on the right wing. With a new Football League rule allowing a substitute to replace an injured player Fencott had the distinction of being the first wearer of the number 12 shirt for City in the opening match of the season but his services were not required on that occasion.

Fencott’s first appearance of the season came in a League Cup First Round replay defeat at York City but after retaining his place for a 3-3 home draw with Halifax he was back on the bench to become only the second-ever substitute to get on the pitch for City as Darlington were beaten 4-1 in mid-September. He then made only a handful of appearances, about half of them as a substitute until the middle of March when following the transfer of John Hawksby to York City, Fencott took over his midfield role for the remainder of the season. This brought him some success, registering his only four goals of the season in a 15-game spell, including scoring twice as Rochdale were beaten 2-0 at Sincil Bank. My own particular memory of him is during this spell in one of the two 4-0 wins he played in, when moving forward from midfield he put his foot on the ball to send the whole of the Barrow defence the wrong way. However, an end of season run of only two defeats in 12 games was not enough to save City from another re-election plea.

Fencott’s form towards the end of the season had evidently been enough to ensure his retention for the following campaign, and he continued as a first-choice midfielder at the start of the 1966/67 season. But despite knocking Division Two sides Hull City and Huddersfield out of the League Cup there was an all-too-familiar slump in league form for City leading to another managerial change as Ron Gray was appointed as manager in place of Roy Chapman. Fencott soon found himself out of favour with the new boss, and after playing in Gray’s third match in charge he was to appear only once more in City’s first team, a goal-less draw at Wrexham in mid-April.

Very much one of ‘yesterday’s men’ as Ron Gray set about building his own squad it was no surprise when Ken Fencott was released in the summer of 1967 after making a total of 16 appearances during the previous season. He then joined West Midlands League side Tamworth, moving on the following year to play for Blakenall of the Midland Combination based near his home town of Walsall. With his fairly brief football carer over he turned to snooker becoming a proficient amateur player while running a driving school business in Birmingham.

Ken Fencott’s Football League appearances totalled 76, with 13 goals scored.