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Johnny Haynes Footballer Gentleman

Johnny Haynes was buried today, October 27th 2005, and the world is a poorer place for his passing. How ironic that he should die and be buried in his adopted home of Scotland after his greatest footballing moment was leading his country, England, to a 9-3 thrashing of the old foe in 1961, still the heaviest win between the two auld enemies and very likely to always remain so.As most football fans will know Johnny Haynes played all his games for the one club, his beloved Fulham, but when you look back at that side in the late fifties and early sixties it was full of decent players. Bobby Robson for a start, another regular England international and of course good old Jimmy Hill who did so much to have that maximum wage abolished.

Johnny carried that tag of the first hundred pound a week player to his end, and I suspect that annoyed him a little.Not many people realise that Johnny was only 31 at the time of the England World Cup win in 1966 and that he would almost certainly have played in that side but for a serious car accident that he never truly recovered from. But whose place would he have taken? Stiles perhaps, or Roger Hunt, or god forbid, Sir Geoffrey, or even the man who was always ahead of his time, and my probable guess, Martin Peters? It's odd to think too that Duncan Edwards would only have been 29 at the time of that final if he had lived, so how great an English side could that really have been?.I'll always remember Johnny playing in the twilight of his career in a now struggling Fulham side and his greatness was still obvious, yet something was missing and the other players, try as they might simply couldn't keep up with his speed of thought. Inevitably there would occasionally be sharp words between the maestro and the journeymen pro's and that was sad to see, yet probably inevitable.

In all John played 594 games for Fulham scoring 145 goals, and 56 for England, 22 as captain, scoring 18 goals. Among his England highlights must surely have been the hat-trick against the USSR he notched in 1958 and the already mentioned win against Scotland at Wembley. I remember that game clearly because the older lads in the street were trying to guess the score before the game and I said somewhat foolishly that England would win 6-3. They scoffed at that and said that it would be a much tighter match, perhaps 2-1 or 2-0 or may be 1-1.

As luck would have it I was the nearest by miles but no one could have forecast that incredible final scoreline, and the odd thing was the match was quite tight for a while, being still only 3-2 well into the second half.This week I have read that Johnny Haynes was the greatest ever England player, and I am sure if I had written that last week it would have been scoffed at by some. Yet when you sit down and really look at it, which English players were better, greater? Charlton, Greaves, Moore, Finney, Hoddle, Gascoigne, Lineker would probably be the names in the frame, but thinking back, I really do think that it is quite likely that Johnny Haynes was the greatest English player of them all. There is little doubt that if he had played for Arsenal or Spurs, or Manchester United his fame would have been ten times greater, yet he didn't want to, and good luck to him for that.Oh how good it would have been to see him playing now on the pristine pitches alongside Rooney and a really fit Michael Owen.

Just imagine his slide rule passes releasing Michael to terrorise defences. It's easy to imagine the carnage they would have unleashed, and we can dream can't we?.Rest well Mister Johnny Haynes, footballer, gentleman, for you are sure to be much missed. John Norman Haynes 1934 - 2005.

.David Carter's latest published work is SPLAM! Successful Property Letting And Management. Splam! Contains over 240 pages of hints and tips on how to start your own property business on a limited budget, and how to successfully let residential property. You can view actual extracts of the book at http://www.splam.co.

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By: David Carter

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