Weekly Tribute: Barry Hayles [Week 1]
I’m going to commence a series of posts, each week I’m going to write a tribute to a sports person that has made a huge impression on me and I feel is deserving of a tribute. Today marks the start of this series.
As a child growing up one player always stood out to me from our Fulham side, there was always one player I tried to be when playing over the field or on the playground, untucking my shirt and running around like a man possessed, there was only one player I always wanted to be.
As a youngster growing up in North London most of my mates idolised Bergkamp, Ginola, Zola or Andy Cole for me there was only one choice of hero, he was Lambeth born Jamaica star Barry Hayles.
Barry is the one player I can remember, every one I attend matches with all agree on, who none of us have a bad word to say about. Which for us is rare, someone always has an opinion and something negative to say about every player we debate in the pub!
What made Barry such a role model for me? It was his never say die attitude, I’ve never seen a player before or after chase down the ball all the way to the by line on such a regular basis. Barry wasn’t one to give up on seemingly lost causes running around the pitch in his trade marked shirt untucked manner.
It took Barry a while to settle in South West London after joining the Cottagers for a then record fee from Bristol Rovers, opinion was split for a time on the Lambeth born hit man due to the amount of time it took him to settle at the Cottage. Settle he did though, going on to rack up over 200 appearances for the Cottagers in three divisions scoring 44 goals and helping himself to two champions winners medals.
Many thought Barry would struggle at the top table of English football but Barry took to the challenge like a duck to water. After being a large part of Fulham’s formidable Division 1 romp teaming up fantastically with Louis Boa Morte and Louis Saha. In arguably the greatest team to ever grace the First Division, Barry helped himself to over 20 goals and if it wasnt for Louis Saha he would have arguably got even more.
Once Barry did finally get to the Premier League the step up wasn’t too vast for the goal machine. Barry bagged himself 8 goals in 35 games in Fulham’s first ever Premier League season. It was in 2003 though that Hayles had his greatest Fulham moment netting 2 in a rare away win at Tottenham, this further cemented Barry’s place in Fulham folk law.
Barry’s greatest moments came as a Fulham player but he is far from a one club man. In 2004 Barry left London for a short spell at Sheffield United. An ill-fated spell where he didn’t manage a goal in 4 games for the Blades. A move back to London followed and it was a successful spell at Millwall. Barry’s next move was to Plymouth followed by a spell at Leicester City, Barry then moved along to Cheltenham Town followed by Truro City. He can now be found at the grand old age of 40 scoring goals for Saint Albans City.
Barry Hayles will always be remembered as my favorite Fulham player for his effort and commitment accompanied by a fine amount of goals. As a young kid watching him run his heart out bashing around against much taller defenders was always a pleasure to witness.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)