By Tony Attwood
Reuben John “Ben” Marden was born on 10 Feb 1927. He was an outside left and joined Arsenal from Chelmsford City in 1950 and over a five year spell (spent mostly in the reserves) played 42 games for Arsenal scoring 11.
He played his first game on 3 March 1961 – a 1-3 away defeat to Manchester United, during the era of Tom Whittaker as manager. Jack Kelsey was making his second appearance, and the match concluded a dreadful run of two draws and three defeats. On a broader perspective it was part of a run in which Arsenal won just one in 13 – and yet they still finished the season in fifth, thanks to much better spells in November and April.
Ben kept his place in the team for the rest of the season, replacing Roper who was injured.
He then continued as an occasional player, as the chart shows above, and his last match with us was on 12 March 1954, a 2-0 home win against Aston Villa.
He was of course at Arsenal for the 1952/3 championship season, but again as shown above, only played eight times. However most importantly he played on 1 May 1953 in the dramatic final game of the season in which Arsenal beat Burnley to win the league on goal average.
The other great moment of his career came also in that season on 15 November 1952 with the game that ended Liverpool 1 Arsenal 5
Don Roper was a near all-game man that season, playing on the left and right wing but he was injured in the previous match – a 2-1 home win against Middlesbrough – hence Ben’s inclusion.
But if there were concerns about Ben Marden he set them aside. scoring two while Holton got the other three. The win took Arsenal up to fourth with a game in hand over the leaders (Wolverhampton).
In June 1955 Ben Marden left Arsenal, having a Football Combination medal, but no league winner’s medal (having not played enough games in the 1952/3 season.)
His next and final club was Watford, then of the Third Division South, for whom he played his first match on 20 August 1955, where in a strange twist of fate both he and Les Graham scored on their debuts – a 4-2 win over Millwall. At Watford he scored 11 goals in 42 league appearances, a very similar record to his time at Arsenal, and left the club in the summer of 1957.
After that Ben played for Bedford Town and then Romford and is also reported to have worked as a coach at Romford for a while
Sadly I have no other information about his life, either before or after football. If you know anything please do let me know. I think I’ve managed to pull together a little more than elsewhere, but I admit, it’s not much.
Ben died on 9 March 2009, just a few days after his 82nd birthday. As it was a recent occasion I do hope that a member of the family or friend might get in touch to offer a little more information as has happened with so many other players mentioned on this site.