1961 was a landmark year for British football. It saw the break-up of the maximum wage (then £20 per week), one of the most significant developments in the game’s history. Players’ bargaining rights, certainly those of the top players, changed dramatically. Fulham’s Johnny Haynes will go down in football history as the game’s first £100 per week player - although, it is said, he never received another increase.
Haynes was, by far, Fulham’s leading player for most of the 1950s and 1960s. He was ‘the Maestro’, renowned for his passing skills: the 40-yard pass threading the defence; the reverse pass; the pass into space where instinctively he knew a team-mate was (or ought to be) running - a repertoire that gained him a worldwide reputation. He was also a perfectionist, as demanding of himself as renowned for rebuking team-mates who did not play to his standards.
Captain of England 22 times between the reigns of Billy Wright and Bobby Moore, by 1966 his style did not meet the taste of Alf Ramsey and his more workmanlike team approach. As a Fulham player, Haynes has no equal in the club’s history. His huge contribution is reflected in the bare statistics: 658 appearances for the club; the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 158 goals; and, with 58 international appearances for England, still the club’s most capped player.
His statue was unveiled in 2008 and stands proudly on a plinth outside Craven Cottage. Haynes is in typical pose. Hands are on his hips, perhaps less menacing in look than in some tales of the past, but still with a slightly quizzical expression and furrowed brow. His foot is on the ball, in the words of the statue’s designer, as though “he’d just killed a lion in the jungle”.