3 thoughts on “John Arlott on Johnny Haynes

  1. Have just got round to this, which is extremely well found. In length and style it is from another world — nearest today probably Hugh McIlvaney, but there is actually solid content here. Does it stand the test of time?

    No in the sense that Haynes was not linchpin of the national team for a further dozen years, but lasted only half that time, never the same after recuperation from his car accident. Few can still remember him prior to then (I can’t), so it’s fascinating to see how highly Arlott rated him. Impossible fully to square with the later evidence of one’s own eyes, his account can be taken on trust up to a point, knowing that playing contemporaries like Charlton and Greaves saw him similarly.

    What’s missing from the article is anything about hunger, ambition, will to win. At that early stage of Haynes’ career it would not have been an issue, but as we now know it turned out to be the big one. Arlott does at least get round to spotting that inferior players are unable to make the most of his talents, and Haynes too knew that perfectly well. He never, however, did anything about it when — even in that very different world — he surely might have done had he really insisted. In an accident-free world he would maybe have left the comfort zone eventually; we’ll never know. But he didn’t.

    We are left with a player, Fulham’s greatest ever, perceived in his prime as not merely “great” but of major significance……but who turned out not to be. And who is now an unknown, or barely known name nowadays even to many who reckon they follow football.

    Frank Lampard, to take the latest of countless examples, has had a vastly more successful, famous and influential midfield career with a fraction of the talent. Gratitude that Haynes stuck it out with Fulham is therefore mixed with retrospective frustration on his behalf. This fascinating article (for which thanks, Rich) reinforces that frustration.

    1. Based on reading the mirror’s archives I am fairly sure that Haynes wanted to go, to Spurs and Milan at least, but Fulham blocked it. Great comments, thanks!

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