Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Johnny Haynes - The Maestro (The ultimate tribute book)

Ken Coton and Martin Plumb have combined to produce a tribute to the career of JOHNNY HAYNES. The book has been many months in the making and comprises 312 A4 pages with over 300 photographs and illustrations, including rare archive pictures from many sources and photographs not previously seen. This is a hardback book, traditionally sewn, with colour throughout. It contains input and quotes from many former Fulham players, including Bobby Robson, George Cohen, Alan Mullery, Jimmy Hill and Roy Bentley. Check Ken's website for further details about the book here or use the link at the bottom to place your order. Ken posted the following preview on TIFF the other day which gives you an excellent taste of what to expect, and a brief glimpse into the career of THE Fulham legend.

Johnny Haynes always declined the offer of a book about his life, saying that no one would remember who he was, and yet even now, half a century on, his name is still mentioned up and down the county as amongst those in the pantheon that include: Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Billy Wright. Apart from Matthews they were all ‘one-club’ men who stayed for the best part of twenty years with the same club – impossible today. The names above compose the ‘crown jewels’ of English Football. Haynes was a superb athlete and a great competitor; he is however mostly remembered as the best passer of a football that this country has seen since the Second World War, with his two-footed dexterity eclipsing the likes of Beckham, Gascoigne, Hoddle, Baxter and Moore. He was also a great sports all-rounder; he could have been a professional golfer, or tennis player. More importantly he was an excellent all-round cricket player, an able wicket-keeper/ batsman who was offered professional terms by Middlesex Cricket Club. Haynes, a footballing prodigy, shot to fame in a rare televised match in 1950 between England Schoolboys and Scotland Schoolboys. The English demolished the Scots 8–2. Haynes scored two, created the majority of the rest and was an overnight sensation. He was coveted by all the big First Division clubs including Arsenal and Tottenham, but the north London boy chose homely Fulham a Second Division (championship) team, simply because his schoolboy friend had joined the club and was happy there.

Haynes’ progress was swift; he made his debut in the Fulham midfield on Boxing Day 1952 aged just eighteen. The next season he missed just one game and scored a remarkable eighteen goals. The Fulham teams of the day under his aegis were regularly scoring one hundred goals or more a season. So good was the trio of Bobby Robson, Beddy Jezzard and Johnny Haynes that with the British transfer record at £34,000, First Division Newcastle United bid £60,000 for the three players, money unheard of at the time. Both Robson and Haynes were then still under twenty. Such was his prodigious talent that he won his first England cap at the age of nineteen as a Second Division player, scoring on his England debut. At this time, he was the first footballer ever to be capped by England at five different levels: Schoolboy, Youth, England Under-23, England ‘B’ team and the full England side. He continued to improve and became Fulham’s captain at the age of just twenty-one. Haynes could hit passes straight to a player’s foot from fifty yards, and was a hard-training perfectionist. He always tried for perfection and the lack of it from either himself or his human playing colleagues, led to many extravagant gestures and words of fury. Often these withering looks and icy words were commented upon almost as much as his play.

Paradoxically away from the football pitch, Johnny Haynes was nothing like the firebrand on it, polite, courteous and quite shy. And whilst he enjoyed the company of sportsmen and film stars, he lived at home with his parents, had few female friends and was a notoriously private man. As he grew more famous, the handsome Haynes initially made history by being the first footballer to have an agent; he secured many lucrative commercial deals, the most famous of these being the successor to cricketer Denis Compton as the ‘Brylcreem Boy’, his face was regularly emblazoned on TVs, buses and hoardings. He was also a soccer visionary and could see the future in sponsorship and television, and often spoke out about the lack of forward thinking in English football, especially about balls, pitches and the crammed fixture list. There was of course a north-south divide. He was adored in the south, but often reviled in the north. Despite these polarised opinions, Haynes remained the England manager’s kingpin and Walter Winterbottom always picked him.

In 1958, Haynes captained Fulham to the FA Cup semi-final where they were unluckily defeated by a post-Munich Manchester United side in a replay. They also missed out on promotion to the First Division by a whisker. He then played in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden where he was exhausted and felt the backlash from a fickle press. Some of the press tried to get him removed from the England side, so Haynes responded the only way he knew how by scoring a hat trick for England at Wembley against the Russians in a 5-0 win. That same season, he captained Fulham back to the First Division in 1959 and was the club’s top goalscorer with twenty-six goals. His scoring included four goals in one match and then three further hat tricks.

Between 1958 and 1962 he was undeniably the ‘David Beckham of his day’ one of the most talked about sportsman in the country, and one of the country’s most important faces. Haynes then made further history in 1961 when, following the abolition of the £20 per week maximum wage achieved by Jimmy Hill, he became the first player ever to be paid £100 per week. Chairman Tommy Trinder was content to pay such a sum to his ‘favourite son’. The salary was ten times that of a working man and twice that of a cabinet minister. It caused uproar and was even discussed in Parliament. Trinder was almost forced to pay the wage as it kept Haynes in the country, successfully thwarting a massive world record bid of £100,000 for Haynes from AC Milan in April 1961. Remarkably Haynes turned down a life of luxury in Italy to remain with lowly Fulham.

In May 1960, Haynes was appointed captain of England, and helped provide a real upturn in form for the national side. At one stage in 1960-61, England scored forty goals in just six matches! Included in that sequence of results was a massive 9–3 win over Scotland at Wembley, eleven years to the day after he had done the same to Scotland as an England schoolboy. Haynes scored twice and created most of the other goals. Haynes’ general play and talents around this time were regarded as almost superhuman and the press ran out of superlatives. In 1962 Haynes captained Fulham once again to an FA Cup semi-final where history repeated itself and they lost out after a replay. Haynes also had to work extremely hard to keep his Fulham team in the top division. After this bloated season, Haynes captained England somewhat petulantly, in the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile. England somehow reached the quarter-finals, but were eliminated by the eventual winners Brazil. Haynes was again not at his best, and the press like today had a field day. At this juncture, Haynes was only the fourth player ever to have been awarded over fifty England caps. In August 1962 and at the height of his fame, one wet Friday evening Haynes broke curfew and was with a lady friend, when his sports car which she was driving was involved in a collision on Blackpool promenade. Haynes damaged his knee extensively and broke bones in both legs. Doctors said it was the end of his career, but he doggedly fought back, working tirelessly on his own for fitness. On his comeback he was injured again playing only eight games that season. His recovery was slow, but by the end of 1963 he was once again producing England-class performances. However, despite all the praise being reported by the media, the newly appointed England manager Alf Ramsey never picked for Haynes for England again.

Even in mid-1964 when he was almost thirty, Spurs bid a record £100,000 to secure Haynes’ services following the tragic death of their own John White; Fulham somehow managed to turn the offer down. So it was at Fulham he stayed for a further six seasons and along with a handful of decent players, Cohen, Langley, Robson, Mullery and Leggat kept Fulham in the First Division virtually on his own until 1968. Even with relegation, there were eminent journalists who were still convinced that, even at thirty-four, ‘JH’ was still good enough to play for England! During 1968 following the sacking of Bobby Robson, Haynes was appointed Fulham’s player/manager. It was a post he accepted reluctantly and it was a spell that lasted for just four games and seventeen days, before he stood down. Later that season Haynes was awarded a well-earned testimonial that attracted a bumper crowd of almost 25,000 people. Inevitably as Haynes’ powers finally dwindled so did Fulham’s status and Johnny Haynes played the last of his 658 games for Fulham as a Third Division player in January 1970 in front of a sparse crowd. It was his twentieth season at Fulham, a remarkable example of sacrifice and loyalty. Despite his loyalty, manner, prowess and abundant skill, he finished playing in this country without a medal, trophy or domestic honour of any kind on the field and was also not recognised off it either, a fact that many today, both inside and outside the game, still consider a national scandal. Many thought he would stop playing in 1970, but he amazed everyone by going to South Africa and continuing his playing career for a further five years. It was a controversial move at the time given Haynes’ fame and the political situation at the time in South Africa with sport and apartheid. In South Africa, Haynes won two championships and three other cup trophies with Durban City. He finally retired with Maritzburg at the age of forty-one, having played top-level football non-stop for a quarter of a century! Haynes was a bachelor until he was thirty-eight, marrying and divorcing twice whilst in South Africa and also meeting his third partner Avril. He remained in South Africa for fifteen years.

Paradoxically like much of his life, he returned, after a short spell of coaching in South Africa, to live in Scotland with Avril, gladly assisting in the running of her business operations, watching Hearts, Scottish rugby whilst enjoying golf and holidays. However, he never forgot ‘his Fulham’ it was the first result he looked for, and during the late eighties and early nineties he campaigned vigorously when Fulham’s very existence was under threat and when it looked as if Craven Cottage itself would disappear. Johnny Haynes was as delighted as anyone when Fulham finally returned to top-flight football after an absence of thirty-three years, and he returned as an honoured guest to see his team play Premiership football. In 2002 Haynes became an inaugural inductee to the English football hall of fame in recognition of his football talents and impact on the national game. Tragically on the afternoon of his seventy-first birthday in 2005, Johnny Haynes suffered a stroke whilst driving in Edinburgh, his car ploughed into a light goods vehicle. Haynes lost his life and Avril was badly injured. His funeral in Scotland was attended by the luminaries of the day including Sven Goran Eriksson, Bobby Charlton, Dave Mackay and Sir Bobby Robson. Haynes was a trailblazer; an intelligent, outspoken and controversial figure who could be loved and loathed in equal measure. His career with Fulham and England shows almost 750 appearances and almost 200 goals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've got a load of flyers if someone wants one. Happy to pass along at the next game, or at Blackburn if I go.