Eric Wilton: On March 24th 1990 our first child was born: a boy, Sam. Incredibly – given her apathy towards the Beautiful Game – my wife acquiesced to him being given the middle name of Haynes. Shortly thereafter, I contacted Fulham Football Club asking them to forward a letter to Johnny Haynes, with a request for an autograph from himself for Sam. A few days later I received a letter from Johnny, thanking me for the ‘honour’ and enclosing a signed photo of himself, with the words: “Give Fulham a cheer for me when you’re older!” This I presumed would be the end of our correspondence but I (and Sam) were in for a surprise. On his birthday, Sam received a card from Johnny. And this continued every year until his untimely death in 2005.
I never did meet Johnny Haynes personally. I once attended an event where he was part of a panel of past England footballers and it was very apparent to all that he was a breed apart – quietly spoken and somewhat self-effacing. I could have introduced myself to him on that occasion, but something held me back. It might have been embarrassment or fear of disappointment; but I think not. I believe I knew what sort of man Johnny Haynes was and that no personal affirmation was required.
John Kelvin: In the 1960s I played for Putney Cricket Club who played an annual fixture against Fulham. I was fortunate to have played in a number of these matches and had the privilege of speaking to the great man on many occasions. I found him to be a very down to earth individual and very approachable. He was also a very good cricketer.
Brian Handcock: I was walking down Fulham Palace Road on a cold November day in 1973, when low and behold I bump into Johnny Haynes coming out of a shop with his wife. He was a charming man who happily stood there talking with me for a good 10 minutes before going on his merry way. An absolute true gentleman.
Tony Lipman: I used to live in a block of flats opposite Barons Court Station and they had a night club there called the Barons Keep Club. Johnny Haynes used to frequent it from time to time and he was the most approachable person you could possibly want to meet. He would quite readily buy you a drink and have a chat about the game. Lovely man.
Ron Bryant: I was playing in a Fulham Golf Day at Harewood Downs, and on a par three hit the ball from the tee onto the green. Johnny Haynes, who was in the four ball behind, watched it and said “Good shot son.” Always nice to be praised by anyone, of course, but by Johnny Haynes, praise indeed. This photo (below) was taken afterwards.
Pete: When I was eight-years-old I met him, Beddy Jezzard and Jimmy Hill in my mother's restaurant, the El Cubano, in Kingston. This was a few days before the semi-final replay against Man Utd. He took time to talk to me and when I added up his bill he gave me a tip of, if memory serves me correctly, ‘Half a Crown’ – a veritable fortune to a young lad in those days. All three of them were true ambassadors for themselves, the game and the club.
Tony Keen: I remember going down the Cottage in school holidays to collect autographs. We would wait for the great man to arrive for training, we would all line up, and he would sign every book. He would go into training, and if we were lucky Frank Penn would come out and let us sit along the benches in front of the Stevenage Road Stand, now of course the Haynes Stand. Lovely days.
Jeff Facer: I have a picture of 13-year-old me with Johnny and George Cohen sitting pitchside on the railings, in front of the Cottage. My Mum was a supporter in the 40s and knew people who could get us in the courtyard. The photo was taken when Mum asked George if he would mind a picture. Being the gentleman he is he obviously agreed. We got down to pitchside and she saw Johnny standing at the top of the slope and asked George (World Cup Winner don't forget) if he would hang on while she went and got Johnny. This he duly did. So three Fulham Legends gave me a pic I'll never forget till the day I die; Johnny, George, and my Mum, who’s sadly now no longer with us.
Steve Lunn: As a young lad, me and my friends went to a London mainline train station to see if we could see any footballers travelling to an away game. Low and behold, there was Johnny Haynes, plus I think Tosh Chamberlain and Jimmy Hill. We went up for an autograph and Johnny realised they did not have a pack of playing cards, so gave me some money and asked if I could go and get a pack, which I did. His appreciation was overwhelming. A great man and of course, an all-time great footballer.
John Gee: I used to collect autographs in the early to mid-60s and, unlike a lot of lesser players, Johnny would always spend time signing our pictures. We used to like to get the photos signed ‘best wishes,’ but for some reason he insisted that he would sign his name or ‘best wishes’ but not both. He never seemed to catch on that we would get his autograph and then re-join at the back of the orderly queue to get the ‘best wishes’ added. Although he was England captain he always made sure we all got what we wanted.
Michael Wontner-Riches: Johnny would often be found in the Golden Lion on supporters club night, which was on a Monday evening, where he would come upstairs and sit and chat in Mr and Mrs Baron's lounge.
In the early days I would get on the trolleybus at Hammersmith and find Johnny sitting in the upstairs back seat, before getting off and walking down Finlay Street to the ground. I travelled with him and the team on numerous occasions, often with his mother Rose and his father Eddie, to those often smoke laden towns up North. I stayed overnight at Lincoln with the team on Christmas Eve 1957 and got Johnny and the rest of the team and Manager, Dug Livingstone, assembled on the staircase for a Christmas morning photo from my shaking hand. Roy Dwight scored the second half goal that saw Fulham win by 1-0 that day.
I have far too many memories of Johnny to include here, but will leave you with one more of him returning from a match we played against Blackpool, we which lost 2-1. We had to change trains at Preston, and whilst the rest of the team were enjoying a beer in the station refreshment room, Johnny was asking for and got a glass of cold milk to refresh him.
I have a number of photos I took of Johnny during those early years, including this one (below) of him in the Cardiff Station refreshment bar on the 26th April 1958 after we had lost 3-0 against Cardiff City. Despite the fact that the match had finished any hopes of promotion that season, he still managed to give me a smile.
David Wakefield: I must have been about eight or nine-years-old when my dad and I met the great man and most of the Fulham team on Putney Bridge as they were going for a run along the towpath on the Putney side of the Thames. He shook my hand and wanted to give me his autograph but we didn’t have pen or paper. He said to me, “Give me your name and I’ll leave something for you on the gate on Saturday.” Sure enough on the Saturday there was a number 10 shirt signed by the First Team waiting for me. He was a truly star player and a gentleman. He was my hero and I’ll never forget him.
John Hunt: As a schoolboy my bedroom walls were covered with photographs of the great man. My most treasured possession was a signed programme, which I still have. Many years later, through a friend who was an acquaintance of his parents, I got to have a drink with him on one of his visits to the Cottage from Scotland, and I found him to be the charming man I always thought he would be.
Paul Connor: I was 11-years-old and outside the Cottage waiting for the players to get their autographs. After getting most of the players’ autographs and talking to them, I believe it was raining, and I was offered a lift home by Johnny Haynes. Amazing. Would any other England captains out there offer me a lift if asked? I don’t think so. A great man, a gent, a legend. God bless x
Chris Cox: I used to bunk off school to watch the lads train at the Cottage. Johnny always had a kind word and would give all the autographs you wanted. Perfect Gentleman.
Tony Doubler: I was fortunate enough to be in on the start of Johnny Haynes’ career at Fulham. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to his memorial service in Hammersmith. I spoke to Tosh Chamberlain there and he relayed a story to me that the two of them sometimes cycled to London matches. Whether he was captain of England at that time I don't know, but can you imagine any footballer today cycling to a match, let alone someone of Johnny's stature?
Baz Richardson: Back in the 1950s and early 60s, before the start of every football season Fulham used to play a friendly cricket match against a local team on Barnes Common. Johnny Haynes was a talented wicket keeper and used to play for Winchmore Hill, his local side in North London. So he captained the Fulham cricket team and also kept wicket. In one particular game, Fulham's centre forward Maurice Cook was batting and got hit on the head by a ball. He was taken off in a daze. He eventually returned to the field to much laughter wearing an old motorcycle helmet – the first time to my knowledge that any batsman wore a helmet in a cricket match.
David Bell: When Fulham held pre-season training at the Cottage in the 60s we would wait for the players to come out so we could get their autographs. Johnny would get us to all line up and he would sign everyone’s book before leaving. A mark of a true gent and someone who appreciated the fans’ support.
John Sherar: Along with the many memories of watching Johnny Haynes at the Cottage, I was lucky enough to see Johnny and the team playing cricket in the close season at the Alexandra Recreation Park Tolworth against the Surbiton Royal British Legion team. A field day for autograph hunters. Johnny was a real hero and a very modest one. Thanks for the memories.