Johnny Haynes

Football's Pioneers: Johnny Haynes

Professor Dilwyn Porter, from De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History & Culture, recalls the career of England captain Johnny Haynes, who became Britain’s first £100-a-week footballer.
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Was any footballer, even England’s captain, worth £100-a-week? That was the question often asked when the Football League abandoned its weekly wage cap, then just £20, in 1961. Fulham’s chairman, comedian Tommy Trinder, had no doubts, and Johnny Haynes became a trailblazer, the first English professional to be paid a three-figure weekly wage. For Fulham it was money well spent.

Haynes had by then been at Craven Cottage for 10 years after joining the club from school. He first attracted attention as a 15-year-old, starring for England Schools in an 8-2 win over Scotland in 1950.

As a north London boy, Haynes had been expected to sign for Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur, but chose unfashionable Fulham, then in the Second Division, where prospects of rapid advancement to the first team were better, making his debut at 18 on Boxing Day 1952.

Within two years, he had played for England, the first of 56 appearances for his country, 22 as captain. With Haynes in midfield, Fulham began to confound their critics, reaching the FA Cup's last four in 1958 and gaining promotion to the top tier in 1959.

Almost impossible to dispossess, he was a master of the defence-splitting diagonal ball bringing Fulham’s flying wingers, Graham Leggat and Tosh Chamberlain, into play. He helped to keep Fulham in the top flight for the next 10 seasons, most remarkably in 1966/67, when they miraculously escaped relegation by winning nine and drawing two of their last 13 matches.

Haynes was at his peak for club and country in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Highlights included a hat-trick for England against the Soviet Union at Wembley in 1958 and a six-match spell under his captaincy in 1960/61, when a free-scoring attack, masterminded by Haynes, scored a total of 40 goals, including nine against Scotland at Wembley in 1961.

He went on to captain the side in the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile, when England went out to Brazil in the quarter-finals. 

He was never short of critics – the usual complaint was that Haynes, though technically brilliant, was too predictable. Seriously injured in a car crash, he missed most of the 1962/63 season and was never quite the same force thereafter as he had been previously.

A fixture in the national team under Walter Winterbottom, he was never capped by his successor Alf Ramsey. Haynes remained loyal to Fulham even after the club was relegated to the Second Division in 1969 and, again, to the Third in 1970.

In total, he made 594 first team appearances for Fulham, scoring 146 goals. After retiring from English football in 1970, he played two seasons for Durban City in South Africa, winning two championship medals. 

Haynes was a genuine household name in his day, appearing regularly in 1950s newspapers and on TV in advertisements for Brylcreem.

After his death in 2005, his contribution to Fulham was recognised when a stand at Craven Cottage was renamed in his honour and a statue at the ground followed a few years later. 

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