StanleyPrimary School

Learning with Confidence Together

Professional footballers visit Stanley

On Tuesday 5 November 2013, we were very fortunate to have a visit from three current professional footballers from AFC Wimbledon. Rhys Weston, Andy Frampton and Alan Bennett all spoke eloquently during a special assembly and gave a real insight into what life is like as a professional footballer. Both Rhys and Alan have represented their countries and Andy has played in the Premiership, so it was yet another coup to have such well respected professionals come to Stanley Primary School. The players then gave a coaching masterclass to the girls' football squad, and stayed for photos and a signing session.


History of the players


Rhys Weston has represented the Welsh national football team seven times between 2000 and 2005. An Arsenal Academy graduate, he made one appearance in the 1999–2000 campaign against Alan Shearer and Newcastle, before signing with Cardiff City. He spent six years with Cardiff, making 214 appearances in league and cup, helping them to two promotions. Released by the club in 2006, he travelled to Norway to sign with Viking FK, though he only played one game. In 2007 he transferred to Walsall via Port Vale. He then moved to Scottish club Dundee in 2010 and captained the side to a second place finish in the First Division in 2011–12. In May 2012, he joined Icelandic club KR Reykjavík. Five months later he signed for Malaysian club Sabah FA. He returned to England with AFC Wimbledon in July 2013.


Andy Frampton progressed through the youth system at Crystal Palace before breaking into the first team and making his Football League debut at the age of 19 on 3 April 1999 in a 1–0 win over Norwich City at Carrow Road. He went on to make five more appearances for the club during the 1998–99 season, with the club ultimately finishing 14th in the league. During the 1999–2000 season he made 10 league appearances, including a 4–0 win over Portsmouth on 2 October 1999, with the club once again ending the season having achieved a mid–table league ranking of 15th. The 21–year old defender made another ten league appearances in the 2000–2001 season. Crystal Palace struggled throughout the season however and only avoided relegation to the Second Division on the final day, beating Stockport County 1–0 on 6 May 2001. Frampton found his first-team opportunities limited during 2001–02, playing just two matches in April 2002, as he proved unable to compete with Craig Harrison as first choice left-back. The defender made two appearances for Crystal Palace during the 2002–03 season, however, having failed to cement his place in the first-team, Frampton subsequently joined Football League Second Division club Brentford on a free transfer on 28 October 2002.


Alan Bennett joined League of Ireland Premier Division club Cork City in 2000 at the age of 18. He initially played as a midfielder, but was converted to the defensive role of centre–back during the 2004 season. He made more than 150 appearances for the "Rebel Army", scoring ten goals. During his time at Cork City, Bennett played in The UEFA Cup and Champions League and also won a Youths FAI medal in 2000, National League Medal in 2005 and 3 Munster Senior Cup medals. Following several bids, Bennett joined Reading on a two and a half-year contract for an undisclosed fee thought to be £250,000 on 30 January 2007. On 31 July 2007, he was loaned for six months to Southampton and made his debut during a home defeat to Crystal Palace. He returned to Reading in January 2008. On 7 March 2008, he joined Brentford on loan; during this time Bennett scored his first goal in English football against Bradford City. He began a second loan spell at Brentford on 8 August 2008, initially for one month, although this was extended to five months on 31 August 2008, following Man–of–the–Match performances against Rotherham United and Notts County. His loan was then extended for a third time until the end of the 2008–09 season. Bennett appeared in over 50 games for Brentford in the 2008–09 season and assumed the role of team captain in the absence of regular captain Kevin O'Connor. As O'Connor was out for the match that decided if they won the league or not, Bennett was made captain and lifted the League Two trophy after a 3–1 victory over Darlington. Bennett scored the opening goal in this fixture. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Bennett was released by Reading. He signed a permanent contract with Brentford on 30 July 2009 which was set to run until June 2011 and was appointed club captain. On 16 February 2010 Bennett joined Wycombe Wanderers on a one–month emergency loan. He returned to Brentford at the end of the loan period because of the Bees' lack of defensive cover, but signed a new loan deal with Wycombe until the end of the season on 25 March 2010. On 23 July 2010 Bennett joined Wycombe Wanderers on a permanent one–year contract. Bennett was part of the Wycombe squad that achieved automatic promotion to League One that year, although unfortunately injuries limited his appearances. On 4 July 2011 Bennett joined Cheltenham Town on a one–year contract.  Bennett played a big part in Cheltenham reaching the 3rd round of the FA Cup which drew them away to Tottenham Hotspurs. They went on to lose 3–0, however the game will go down as one of the biggest days in the club's history. Cheltenham's form suffered after the FA Cup game but they still managed to seal a League Two play–off position under Bennett's captaincy. Cheltenham went on to beat Torquay United in the play–off semi–finals, but lost the play–off final to Crewe Alexandra, thus confirming another season in League Two. On 31 January 2013, Bennett left Cheltenham after his contract was terminated by mutual consent. Following his contract termination, he signed for fellow League Two team AFC Wimbledon, also on 31 January 2013.The ability and experience Bennett brought to the AFC Wimbledon defence in the second half of the 2012–13 season helped "The Dons" avoid relegation from the Football League and remain a League Two team for a third successive season. Bennett received a call- up for the Republic of Ireland under–21 team in 2001. In 2007 Bennett was called up to the Ireland 'B' squad for a game against Scotland 'B' in Airdrie. In May 2007, he was called up to the full Republic of Ireland team for their two- match trip to the United States. Bennett played the full 90 minutes against Ecuador, helping Ireland to a 1–1 draw. He then played in the following match against Bolivia, which also ended 1–1.


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