Them and us – Joe Hayes (Manchester City and Latics)

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The subject of this week’s missive is arguably one of the greatest Manchester City servants, who finished his playing career at Springfield Park, Joe Hayes.

Joe was an inspirational inside forward who used to score goals for fun.  He was born in Kearsley on 20th January 1936 and like most young men of the time he worked in a cotton mill following a much disliked stint down the coal mines.  Unlike most though, he wandered around town to Maine Road in August 1953 and asked City manager Les McDowall for a trial.  Two months later he was making his Football League debut against Tottenham Hotspur!

He appeared in the 1955 FA Cup Final as a nineteen year old and was in the side that lost 3-1 to Newcastle United in front of 100.000 spectators at Wembley.  Undaunted, he returned the following year and another 100.000 supporters saw him score the opening goal (after just three minutes) in a 3-1 win over Birmingham City.  This must have been his greatest day in the game.  It is also the game in which City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann played with a broken neck!

The accompanying photograph shows Joe going close to scoring, but for the intervention of Birmingham City goalkeeper Gil Merrick, during that game.

He met with disappointment again in 1958 when he was picked for the England provisional World Cup Squad, unfortunately he didn’t do enough to travel to the tournament, he was in good company though because Bobby Moore, Alan Mullery and Brian Clough also failed to make the England grade that year.

He played a total of 363 games for the Citizens, scoring 152 goals in the process, most of those coming before a bad knee injury sustained in September 1963.  He hung around Maine Road for as long as possible but in the summer of 1965 the then City manager George Poyser decided to offload Joe and he was signed by Barnsley.

His best days were clearly behind him but he did score three goals in 26 appearances for the Tykes before drifting into non league football with Latics.

He arrived at Springfield Park in the autumn of 1966 shortly after the appointment of Alf Craig as Latics manager and he played 28+4 Cheshire League games for the Blues, netting seven times, once from the penalty spot.  During what was his final season as a player he helped Latics to win five trophies and clinch the runners up spot in the Cheshire League!

Joe passed away on 4th February 1999 aged 63.

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