Legends Of English Football: #11 Johnny Haynes
I think it’s apt to finish this series with perhaps the player who is often held up as the reason that allowed footballers to earn the wages that they do in this day and age. Yet, to simply think of Johnny Haynes’ only contribution to football was being the first player to earn £100 per week would do this wonderful player a major disservice.
Haynes was a fabulous player and possibly one of the greatest players ever to represent England. A real “one club man”, Haynes personified footballing skill, humility and loyalty like few others and is held in almost deity like reverence at Craven Cottage to this day. Haynes showed such loyalty to his club, perhaps beyond the call of duty.
Haynes was born in 1934 in Kentish Town, London, and signed for the Cottagers in 1950 on schoolboy terms. What seems to distinguish Haynes from his contemporaries of the time was the fact that Fulham were not a “big club” in the Football League rather a mid table Second Division side, yet such was the level of his abilities that the majority of his England caps were awarded whilst Fulham were a Second Division side, almost unthinkable these days.
He continually turned down the offers of bigger clubs, A.C. Milan and Tottenham both unsuccessfully tried to sign him, but for him playing football for the club he loved was more than enough. It was Haynes unique ability as a playmaker, a role that didn’t really exist until he created it that made him such a player that was coveted so much.
In tandem with Bobby Robson, Haynes’ ability to ping passes seemingly at will to any area of the pitch to unlock opponents that caused the Fulham faithful to dub him “The Maestro”. He would often place a towel in front of the clubhouse at Craven Cottage and fire passes from the centre circle, honing his passing skills every day.
There seemed to be nothing he couldn’t do with a football and his passing coupled with his goalscoring exploits made him an fearsome opponent. He dragged Fulham to promotion in the 1958-59 season, scoring 26 goals in just 34 appearances. Fulham had never played at the top level in English football before in their history, but the rest of the decade would see them constantly struggle to impose themselves in the division.
Yet regardless of his abilities as a player, he would often show his frustration at his team mates lack of abilities by giving out an earbashing, but given the captains armband at only 21, it was to be expected. He also often would revel in the creation of a goal more than actually scoring and had given penalties to team mates even when on a hatrick. Haynes set record after record for Fulham throughout his career, with appearances, goals scored, most goals in a game and most hatricks scored.
It was Haynes England career that caused him such disappointment, with the surprising defeat to USSR in the 1958 Quarter Finals followed by the exit to Brazil in the 1962 World Cup at the same stage. The Brazilians had worked out that to stop England, you simply had to stop Haynes and put a man marker on him. Haynes didn’t get a kick and England limped out to the eventually Champions. Yet he was instrumental in Englands 9-3 demolition of Scotland in 1961, setting up 5 goals and scoring 2.
Haynes never played for England again, but whilst Walter Winterbottom was replaced as England manager by Alf Ramsey, Haynes was involved in a motorbike crash which caused knee ligament damage, ruling him out for nearly a year. Once he returned toward the end of the 1962-63 season, he still turned out for Fulham as regularly as he used to, but he was just missing that yard of pace which had given him an edge. The media continually clamoured for his return to international duty, but Haynes confided in Bobby Charlton “Alf knows I don’t have it in me to play for England again and so do I”.
As the sixties went on Fulham perpetually flirted with relegation, finishing 20th in both the 1964-65 and 1965-66 season. The 1966-67 season saw Fulham rise to the dizzy heights of 18th but it was a false dawn. The following season, they finished rock bottom, 6 points from safety and then had the ignomy of a consecutive relegation to the Third Division by finishing bottom of the Second Division, this time 9 points from safety.They wouldn’t trouble the top division again until 2002.
Haynes however continued to stay and try and help the cause, but Fulham could only finish 4th and he retired from professional football at the end of that season. He surprisingly moved to South Africa and became player manager of Durban City actually winning the South African championship in 1971, thus gaining his only medal in his entire career. He stayed in South Africa until 1984, when he returned to live in Scotland until his death in 2005.
At the end of his career Haynes summed up the wage breaking story with panache. “When the chairman paid me £100 a week, he was as good as his word, but he never gave me a pay rise in the rest of my time at Fulham!”.
He passed away on his birthday, 17th October 2005, aged just 71. Fulham renamed the Stevenage Road Stand the Johnny Haynes Stand on November 27th 2005 and a statue of him was unveiled on the 18th October 2008 outside the ground.
Alan Mullery : “He was the only reason I went to Fulham as a young boy of 15 leaving school. He was my hero, the captain of England and Fulham”
Bobby Moore : “Once you get used to watching that perfection you realised the rest of the secret. John was always available, always hungry for the ball, always wanting to play. I loved watching the player. Later I learnt to love the man.”
- Played 658 games for Fulham and scored 158 goals in all competitions
- Won 56 caps and scored 18 goals for England
- First footballer to get an agent
- First footballer in England to receive £100 per week
- Captained England 22 times
- First player to play for England at Schoolboy, Youth, Under-23, B and Full team