Underwood: Benjamin Riley (Ben)
Born: Alfreton, Derbyshire: 30-09-1901
Debut: Birmingham City (h): 04-05-1929
5’10” 11st 8lb (1928)
Underwood was kept in the shadows by George Reed and Wilf Copping during his three seasons at
Elland Road. He began with New Hucknall in 1920 and Sutton Town in 1924 before joining Derby
County in 1925 but, after failing to make the Rams’ first team, he moved to Doncaster Rovers in
June 1926. He held a regular place, scoring once in one hundred and one League games in the
three seasons, prior to joining Leeds in May 1929 and quickly making his debut in the final game
of the 1928-29 season in what was virtually a reserve team. He did, however, play the first three
games of the 1929-30 season, in the absence of George Reed, but the emergence of Wilf Copping saw
his chances curtailed even further and after failing to stop Copping from being ever-present in
the 1930-31 season he opted for a change of scenery. He moved to Coventry City in the 1931 close
season and stayed there until the end of the 1932-33 season, making twenty League appearances.
Thanks to Neil Roche for further information on the player. "I have found him playing for Newton Rangers
in 1919-20, then New Hucknall Colliery in 1920-21, 1921-22 and 1922-23. But can't find him in 1923-24!
Summer 1924 he joined Sutton Town, then Derby County in December 1924." He also provided a fine
profile from The Sports Echo of 14th September 1929 " CLEVER UNITED YOUNGSTER. Will He Catch the
Selectors' Eye? One of the most interesting entrants into First Division ranks this season is big, lithe, Ben
Underwood. Leeds have been envied for their possession of Edwards and Hart; now that they have another
rising star in Underwood rival clubs will be asking how they manage to pick them up. The fact that he was
given a rest from First Division football today, does not alter my opinion of him one bit, nor that of Mr "Dick"
Ray, I should imagine. He will come back, and a lot more will be heard of him. Benjamin Riley Underwood
hails from Newton, and learned the game in the coalfields of Notts, playing his junior football with New
Hucknell and Sutton Town. He was discovered by Derby County in December 1924. In June 1926, he went to
Doncaster Rovers, though no one can tell you why he was ever allowed to leave the Baseball Ground.
Manager Dick Ray (now at Elland Road) signed him up for the Rovers and paid £50 for the privilege. In three
seasons he completed exactly a century of Northern Section games. Meanwhile, Manager Ray had never
forgotten him, and when money was needed at Doncaster last summer he promptly made a substantial offer
which was accepted. Underwood was not yet twenty-seven years of age, and he looks much younger. He
stands 5ft 10ins, in height, turns the scales at close to 12st, has well stocked cells of energy, but above all
plays with a judgement that would not sit ammis on Willis Edwards' shoulders. He is certain to be mentioned
for International trials ere long." He died at Bridgenorth, aged fifty-six, on 9th March 1958.