Maestro Memories: The Footballer

Sunday 18 October 2015 10:00

In our first instalment of Maestro Memories, Fulham fans share their recollections of Johnny Haynes' brilliance on the pitch, for both club and country.

Brendan Flynn: As a 10-year-old I watched the full Fulham team play a practice game on the cinder pitch at Hurlingham Park in the '60s. A wayward shot from Terry Dyson sent me scampering after the ball behind the goal, and with my new suede chisel toe shoes I lobbed the ball back to the Maestro who followed the ball behind me. “Nice chip son,” he said, not realising how great that made an impressionable 10-year-old feel. It was even worth the telling off I got from my mum for turning my black shoes 'orange' with the cinders, completely ruining them. 

Robert Seymour: I'm sure in a cup game at home against Bristol Rovers, Fulham had a corner, and unless I imagined it a young Bristol defender was laying on the ground holding John’s ankles so he could not move.

Geoff Hill: I have been a Fulham supporter since 1956, so I was fortunate enough to see John at his very best. There is no specific memory of him that stands out, as there were so many. Never has anybody stamped his authority on a game so consistently. I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley in 1961 when England beat Scotland 9-3 – John scored twice and he was absolutely imperious in that game, so much so he was carried from the pitch by his teammates. What more can I say. 

Nick James: I remember going to watch Fulham train when I was around 15-years-old. Training finished and all players left the field. Johnny came back with a bag of balls and a towel. He placed the towel on the ground on one wing, and from the other wing tried to land balls on it. Then he did the same from the other side. Genius is a word too often used, but not in Johnny's case. I’ve lived in Australia for over 40 years but have always supported Fulham and proudly worn their shirts. I will never forget the Maestro.

Phillip Allen: Johnny was my hero and still is. Three things stand out for me:

1. I was at a match which was very hot and the ground was full, and just before half- time I fainted. I was taken to the corner flag near the Cottage and just as I was feeling better the whistle blew. Up pops John who taps me on the head and smiles, and I fainted again.

2. On my 13th birthday we played Arsenal and were two goals down with eight minutes left. John scores two great goals and makes my day.

3. When I had my cancer my son wrote to John in Scotland and he wrote a great letter back to me, and included a signed photo.

My hero.

John Davies: Kenneth Wolstenholme commented that Walter Winterbottom should not pick Haynes for the England game against Russia. I think his reason was, ‘what had Haynes done lately?’ What did JH do? He calmly went out and scored the first three goals (second goal pictured, Haynes not in shot) in a 5-0 victory, and fair play to Wolstenholme, he apologised. Haynes was most certainly the best passer of a ball I have even seen. 

John Wills: The 1958 FA Semi-Final against Manchester United at Highbury. It was disappointing for Johnny and the rest of us when at 4-3 down he scored, only for it to be disallowed because the ref said he handballed. Then to cap it, Bobby Charlton went down the other end and scored a great goal to make it 5-3. Fulham fans were the only people in the country who wanted Fulham to win. The rest were rooting for Man U following the Munich air disaster.

Gary Lewis: I was six-years-old and Johnny was coming for a match versus Everton, and as he walked into Craven Cottage he rubbed my hair for good luck. I didn’t wash my hair for a week. He was my hero!

Paul Cutbill: As a very young lad I can remember a game at the Cottage when Johnny had the ball on the right hand side of the pitch and suddenly swung a pass virtually the width of the pitch to the left wing and screamed, “where`s the winger?!” A young Les Barrett was completely taken unaware of the brilliance of the pass. Johnny of course was the master of passing, and with a proper ball!!

Ted Darling: I first saw Johnny playing for the reserves while I was on leave during my RAF service. It might have been around 1949-50. I stood at the Putney End, which for reserve games was the only one open in those days. It was a mid-week game and we were playing West Ham. I can't remember the result, however I do recall seeing Johnny walking off the pitch at the end of the match and West Ham's centre-half catching him up as they neared the Cottage, and ruffling Johnny's hair. I can't recall the Hammers player’s name but he was a huge man, probably well into his 30s and seeing out his time in their reserves. He probably knew how good Johnny, who then was not much more than a boy, would become. 

Bob Howes: I’ve got many memories of Johnny playing for England and Fulham. In 1958 Johnny scored the winning goal with a great shot on a miserable afternoon against West Ham in the 5th round of the FA Cup, the year we lost 3-5 to Man Utd in a Semi-Final Replay at Highbury. Also, on October 23rd 1958 I was at Wembley with a crowd of 100,000 to see Johnny score a brilliant hat-trick against Russia in a 5-0 win. I also remember when Johnny was carried off on the shoulders of the England players after scoring two of the goals when he captained the national team in a 9-3 drubbing of Scotland in 1961 at Wembley Stadium. Watching Johnny throughout his career was a joy, he was my boyhood footballing hero and I was very fortunate to have got to know him after he returned from South Africa, and continued to be his friend until his death in October 2005. RIP Johnny, you will always be remembered by me as the greatest ever Fulham player.

Pete Mackay: I remember seeing him play firstly in '58. I was eight-years-old and I bunked in for a game, against Leyton Orient I think it was. I was amazed at the passing and air of superiority Haynes had. I was hooked. I got his autograph on a train back from Barrow to Preston. We lost 3-1 and boy was he miserable. He was at the end of his career then, but he still remains the best Fulham player I've ever seen.

David Mayhead: Johnny was my childhood hero, the reason I chose Fulham to the cost of all my Chelsea supporting friends. Stand out moments that measured the man were two goals in the last minutes of a game against Arsenal from two perfectly placed shots to earn a draw from nothing, and his selection of Rodney Marsh to play in goal when Tony Macedo was injured against Aston Villa and Fulham lost 6-3.

Cliff Moore: Johnny Haynes was my idol when I was a lad watching Fulham. I was one of the lucky ones who saw him play for England, and as captain when England beat Scotland 9-3 – Haynes was just superb.
At Fulham over all the years he saw things happen before anyone else with his uncanny knack of knowing where a player would be to receive his fantastic range of passing. It was a privilege to have seen him over many seasons, how I wish we had a player like him now.

Brian Lomath: The first half dozen FFC home games in 1959 were witnessed from the cinder track on the riverside terrace. As a 13-year-old I was lifted over the railings for safety as the crowds were in the region of 40,000. In one of these games the match had been on for about five minutes when we had a throw-in right in front of me. Haynes came running over to take it shouting, “the game's been on for five minutes and I haven't had a touch yet!” Total commitment from the Maestro.

Part Two of Maestro Memories will be published on later today, and will feature fans' interactions with Johnny away from the football pitch.


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