Oopsy Daisy, Martin Hayesy

By Siddy Shivdasani

What becomes of the broken hearted?

Hayes nearly puts Spurs to the sword at White Hart Lane. No, not Martin for the Gunners, baby brother Paul for Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup fourth round this season.

Hayes: One great season but it was downhill after that

It got me thinking about Arsenal’s outstanding one-season wonder from the Eighties. So I asked a seasoned Gooner pundit whether he rated the former England B and under-21 international. Answer: “Half Bergkamp, half Gus Caesar.”

That about sums up the languid-looking winger who seemed to have the world at his feet at one time. But could he have, with a bit of luck, established himself as a top class player or was he a lazy misfit who over-achieved for one season?

I remember him coming on as a sub in his latter years at Arsenal to the masochistic amusement of some Gooners at Selhurst Park but a middle-aged fan piped up: “He knows what he’s doing.”

The guy seemed pretty sure but I never will be, it’s become one of the mysteries of life for me…

Hayes was never blessed with great pace, although no slouch. Though never a jinking, out and out winger, his close control and natural passing were pretty good. But his main attribute was his footballing brain. He was intuitive, making great runs cutting in from the left onto his favoured right foot to get on the end of things.

His big problem, other than being injury-prone, was that he was a confidence player. World beater on his day, anonymous passenger at other times.

The East End lad joined the club as an apprentice in 1982 and made his debut for us as a teenager the following year. But it wasn’t until George Graham took over that he became a regular, in place of the injured Graham Rix (whatever happened to him?).

Hayes was our top scorer that 1986-87 season with 24 goals (admittedly that included 12 penalties but they still have to be slotted home and I can’t remember us ever having a more consistent marksman from the spot).

Of particular note, he once gained possession in our half, dribbled past half the Leicester team before stroking the ball into an empty Clock End net, to the delight of the Highbury faithful. And, of course, he was part of the team which beat Liverpool at Wembley to lift the League (Littlewoods) Cup in 1987.

But that first season under GG was as good as it got for “Oopsy Daisy Martin Hayesy”, as the fans’ affectionate-critical song for him went.

There were a few other highlights in his Gunners career: Scoring at Wembley in the 1988 League Cup final (but also hitting the post from a yard out when we were 2-1 up) in the calamitous 3-2 defeat to underdogs Luton Town.

And he was also on the pitch as a sub when we won the Championship at Anfield in 1989 and had played enough to earn a winners’ medal. But we all knew that his days as a regular starter were numbered when we signed crossing machine Brian Marwood from Sheffield Wednesday earlier that season.

Hayes slowly but surely drifted out of the picture and GG was not sympathetic to his lack of first team opportunities or meagre £600 per week salary, which was peanuts even then. So he made the brave decision, after eight years, to leave the club he described as being like “his mum and dad”.

Aged just 24, he was signed by Celtic in 1990 for £650,000. A reasonable fee for both clubs. But despite an improved salary and being hailed as a big signing, he didn’t fit in and only played seven games in three seasons for the Bhoys.

I recall a story where a teammate had given him a lift to training and Hayes had somehow got locked into the car on his own for the entire session. The sad thing is that no one noticed his absence while he had a nap in the back of the vehicle. Awwww.

A loan move to then top flight Wimbledon in 1992 would have been made permanent had the luckless wingman not broken a leg. And he was released on a free transfer by the Glasgow giants in 1993 to then third tier Swansea City. Despite some initial success, he was again let go for nothing, in 1995.

His career then went into further free fall as he drifted into non-league football, playing for a number of clubs in the lower reaches before Bishop’s Stortford in 1999, where he became player-manager. Hayes hung up his boots in 2001 but carried on as gaffer there until 2008.

He then had short-lived spells in charge of several other non-league clubs, notably guiding Dover Athletic to the FA Cup third round proper, their greatest run in the competition.

Most recently on the radar, he was appointed as manager of little Waltham Abbey in 2015. But he resigned after 14 games without a win in the Ryman North just over a year ago.

Speaking at the time, he said: "I felt that maybe it would be best for the club to get somebody in to do it a bit differently."

What a refreshing attitude for a manager…

There are plenty of nostalgic articles along these lines in every issue of the Gooner, including the current issue, number 263 (which also features a free 2017 Arsenal Legends calendar). Click on the link to see the list of features. It can also be bought online for £4.00 including postage here.

14th February 2017 08:16:46


Comments and Reaction

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mbg  8:42am 14th Feb 2017

Nice Article Siddy, exactly like some second rate journey men we have now, only their being indulged and way overpaid by a second rate manager. wenger out. - Post No. 103949

Redshirtwhitesleeves  8:51am 14th Feb 2017

Remember him scoring a scrappy winner at Middlesbro late on in the 89 title winning season, without which the great night at anfield might never have happened. Also remember only too well the miss from a yard out against Luton! Had nightmares over that game for years after. Great times, exciting times under GG, not like this s*** now...... - Post No. 103950

RobG  9:12am 14th Feb 2017

Good piece. This brings back happy memories. Martin was a good lad and I do not think those 24 goals were a fluke. But - as the article says - he was a confidence player and injuries stifled his chances as they have so many. Still, he was a good lad from a time when you, as a fan, could actually relate to the players, as opposed to seeing them as transient mercenaries. And I can remember him celebrating at Anfield as well ! - Post No. 103951

John F  9:29am 14th Feb 2017

It was a time when I was following Arsenal to nearly every game home and away and never really took to him.I much preferred Brian Marwood on the wing and didn't really miss him when he left.Red shirts that Luton game was painfull the gods were against us that day, Winterburn missed penalty,Hayes miss and of course dear old Gus.Such a contrast to the previous year. - Post No. 103953

TonyEvans  9:29am 14th Feb 2017

Confidence player sums him up. You never quite knew what you were going to get from Hayesy - sublime to ridiculous, but have fond memories of him apart from that Luton miss. - Post No. 103954

The Man From UNCLE  9:37am 14th Feb 2017

Totally right he was a confidence player. He always struck me as needing someone to tell him how to play. In his later days at Arsenal he looked clueless, but as someone did already mentioned, the man who blagged the winner at Middlesbrough which ultimately won the title. - Post No. 103955

Yes its Ron  10:27am 14th Feb 2017

A journey man indeed. An honest one though. He plugged a gap here and there and we knew what MH was and what he wasnt. Give me MH over bottling pip squeaks like Walcott any time of the day though. MH played in a time when we could see our team growing into what 89 and 91 eventually brought. Going to Highbury then created expectation and optimism, unlike today when AFC try and spin the myth that Wenger has a group of players on the cusp of doing the same. What a f----g joke!As Jeff says, you couldnt make it up, but it doesn't stop Arsenal doing so. Different times, good times too. Those player's then recognised what Arsenal were and such as Hayes played for the shirt, unlike todays over rated, over coiffed, designer labelled, prima donna fairies who swan about the place masquerading as top players. Top players my arse. - Post No. 103957

CBee  10:50am 14th Feb 2017

Off topic but you must read this direct quote form 3rd choice goalie Martinex. "Wenger is very well-respected. He’s not only the head coach here, he also built Arsenal. He helped buy the stadium." - Post No. 103958

John F  12:39pm 14th Feb 2017

Cbee Martinez forgot to mention Wenger building and naming the train station although I hear he was P off because they spelt it wrong by putting al at the end. - Post No. 103961

Robert Exley  12:48pm 14th Feb 2017

His debut against Oxford in November '85 was also my debut in attendance at Highbury. His wonder year was 86/87, but GG was about to sell him to Huddersfield before he went on to become our top goal scorer but that was mostly on the back of penalty taking. I can remember in the League Cup final in '87 his lack of involvement particularly annoyed my dad. He should have taken the penalty which Nigel Winterburn missed, he probably would have scored another to seal the result and made himself a hero. Once we got the like of Richardson and Marwood he was never gonna feature much - Post No. 103962

JMascis666  13:58pm 14th Feb 2017

I last saw Martin Hayes as manager of Waltham Abbey as they were knocked out of the Ryman League Cup by Wingate & Finchley. I was suitably awestruck to meet one of my boyhood idols, despite being in my mid 30s! - Post No. 103966

RegW  15:35pm 14th Feb 2017

He did have the one cracking season playing wide left and cutting in on his right. Just about everything went for him (see Ramsey the other year) but he was an average Joe and no where near the class of Marwood and Limpar that followed. Decent enough squad player though and was lucky to come into the side in George's first season when the youngsters he brought in played with true "spereet", not a handbrake in sight. A million miles away from Clouseau's last decade. Happy days. - Post No. 103967

mbg  16:07pm 14th Feb 2017

Cbee, by fook he's been well and truly doctrined, wengers grstapo must have gave him an extra boost when they had the electric leads wired to his balls, just like that young joe 90 look alike that was pictured holding up the banner wenger to stay, god love the lad he knows no better, and probably never will, will never know the club and it's history and that it was here before wenger, his father is probably one of these JCL fans who only found Arsenal when we moved ground and knows nothing, and no one only wenger either, no wonder we're in the state we're in. wenger out. - Post No. 103968

Highbury Boy  18:07pm 14th Feb 2017

Good article. I remember it was reported in The Evening Standard that he had been sold to Huddersfield for £30,000 I think. Next thing the move didn't go through,he was in the side and scoring goals. I heard his most important goal when listening to the radio commentary from Middlesboro in the car. It was near the end of the 88/89 season. I was near the Hyde, the Edgware Rd. 0-0. Pretty drab game. A long kick from Lukic and there was Whoopsy Diasy Martin Hayes running in and he scored to make it 1-0 and grab the points. I remember thinking that GG came so close to selling him. And yes as everyone has mentioned there was no nonsense with him when he took pens. btw a v good article by Henry Winter in today's Times about the importance of keeping Sanchez. - Post No. 103969

Cyril  18:54pm 14th Feb 2017

Great to remember our past players siddy. Top goal scorer for one year on about 600 quid a week, I think I read. Can't be bad, that's about 30 grand for the year to be top scorer. He scored 34 in 102 so bang on 1 in 3. Mr Hayes, well done and doth my hat to a fine Arsenal soldier for the time you were here and your not a bad in house pundit either. That's what's it's about for me, effort for the club on a low profile!! - Post No. 103970

mbg  19:19pm 14th Feb 2017

Just saw some footage of TOF working hard preparing the team and putting them through their paces ahead of tomorrow night, looking really serious pointing at this and that working them hard, working on his favourite subject, tactics, yes there he was standing whistle in his gob as the little technicians all snooded up some with balaclavas on, dribbled and ran round and round cones, Bayern be afraid very afraid. wenger out now. - Post No. 103971

Paulward  19:28pm 14th Feb 2017

When was the last time Mourinho dropped De Gea for any game? More unmitigated nonsense from Wenger, play your best players in every game and if Ospina doesn't like it then too bad is my view. Just more evidence that Wenger cannot make the toughest decisions, utterly bizzare to play one player on the Pl and another in the CL. - Post No. 103972

Leek fc  20:28pm 14th Feb 2017

MBG most boring gooner. Do you want my autograph????? Because Keown was on the phone and he didn't have a clue who you were when you approached him, it doesn't make him a fool.... it makes you one for hanging around 2 hours after the game....... personally, I find your story, ahem, yes a story...... jjetplane has got to be your twin eh. - Post No. 103973

mbg  23:46pm 14th Feb 2017

I see he's got himself lost earlier than usual tonight, his village must have a hard time always looking for and trying to find him, especially when he's been on the buckfast. wenger out. - Post No. 103974

Siddy  3:22am 15th Feb 2017

My personal view on MH is that his problem was on the mental side. As I said, a confidence player. I think only now coaches are starting to really recognise the mental side of the game in a progressive way. But admittedly, I preferred Marwood and Limpar. I just think it's a shame that MH didn't realise his potential. I can't think of a player that had such a huge plummet in fortunes. Tony Daley? - Post No. 103975

Hi Berry  8:09am 15th Feb 2017

such a shame that after two weeks or so of 'on topic' comments the first bit of personal abuse raises its head. - Post No. 103976

Bard  8:50am 15th Feb 2017

Hi berry; Good call mate. Was thinking the same thing. The 'evidenced based' website Untold was calling those who dont support Wenger as idiots without a shred of evidence. A bunch of idiots !! - Post No. 103978

markymark  8:53am 15th Feb 2017

Squeak - is it really worth it? Your embarrassing yourself. - Post No. 103979

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

16th February 2018

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