A Just Giving appeal to raise money for a memorial to be dedicated to celebrated local and international footballer Benjamin Warren has reached its target and plans are progressing for the memorial to be created by Art Stone.

Ben Warren (1879 to 1917) was born in The Thorntree Inn in Newhall and lived locally all his life.

He played local football for Swadlincote, Newhall Town and Newhall Swifts until Derby County signed Ben in May 1898. He made 242 appearances and scored 19 goals at Derby County.

In July 1908 Chelsea paid £1000 for Ben Warren – beating Leicester Fosse & Manchester City bids. Chelsea allowed Ben to live in Newhall.

He used to run five miles every day round Bretby Park and had his own gym at home. He was compared to the likes of a homing pigeon, as he always came back to Newhall after his football matches.

Ben also made 22 appearances for England including the 1908 first overseas tour playing Austria twice, Hungary and Bohemia all in one week.

He is often compared with Steven Gerard for his style of play and team ethic in the modern era.

Player and manager Herbert Chapman said: “Warren was a human steam engine who played through 90 minutes with intimidating strength and speed.”

Player and sports commentator Charles Buchan added: “I am certain that a better half back could not be found – part of the Best England X1 of all time.”

Ben married Minnie Staley on October 21st  1902 at Emmanuel Church Swadlincote and had four children – Harry, Lillian, Maurice and Grenville. Harry went on to be Manager at Coventry and Southend.

In October 1911, Ben injured his knee and sadly never played football again. His health deteriorated until his passing at Derby Pastures Hospital aged just 37.

Ben’s youngest son, Grenville passed away in 1929 and is interred together in St John’s, Newhall, with his father. Minnie’s ashes are also with Ben and Grenville.

Their grave headstone and kerbs are broken and in very poor condition and a group of local people are now working with Art Stone Memorials to replace it with a like for like granite memorial as a lasting memory of our local and international football hero and for his family.

This has come about thanks to generous donations and the public fundraising and Art Stone Memorials will create all the inscriptions free of charge.

Local organiser Colin Smith concluded: “Many thanks to Art Stone Memorials for all their hard work in both costing out the work and behind the scenes to make our goal a reality and create a lasting memorial of our forgotten hero Ben Warren.”