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21 March 1966: Martin Hayes, season top scorer, was born

By Tony Attwood

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Martin Hayes was born 21 March 1966 in Walthamstow. Happy birthday Martin.

His may not be a name you remember but in 1986/7 he became the top scorer for Arsenal with 24 goals in total – and was in a very real sense the salvation of the club that season.

Having played schoolboy football Martin joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1982 and played centre forward and left-wing.  His first game in the first team was against Oxford United on16 November 1985 aged 19.  It may be a reason for what happened latter, for Martin was one of those players introduced by one manager (Don Howe) but who then found a new man in control – although at first he appeared to flourish under George Graham, taking over on the wing from Rix.

In 1986/7 not only was he top scorer, he was also in the team that beat Liverpool to win the League Cup in 1987.  He also scored the first goal in the League Cup final the following season against Luton Town.

Then it all seemed to go wrong.  He became a regular substitute rather than a regular player – not least because of Brian Marwood’s arrival – but he was most notably on the pitch as a sub for the game against Liverpool in 1989 in which we won the league.

But there was something else about Martin Hayes that perhaps did not captivate the crowd.   I recall one game – which I believe was against Leicester, at Highbury in April 1987 where he ran half the length of the pitch on his own to beat the keeper and score.  It was a fabulous, amazing goal, but looking at the way Martin trudged back to his own half, without any goal celebration, it looked as if, for him, the whole thing was a frightful bore. Although maybe that is me reading too much into it.

He left us on 29 September 1990 to join Celtic for £650,000, having played 102 times for Arsenal, scoring 29 goals

He also won three England under 21 caps.

After the Celtic transfer which didn’t work out, he had a couple of loans before playing 61 games for Swansea City, and then moving into lower league football.

After that he moved into management, taking Dover to its famous FA Cup run in which they reached the third round.  I last heard of him in 2016 when he resigned from managing Waltham Abbey.

(Read Martin in his own words.)

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1 comment to 21 March 1966: Martin Hayes, season top scorer, was born

  • Ken George

    A really strange career and was never really valued by the Highbury crowd . He was a penalty expert with half of his 24 goals in 1986/87 coming from the penalty spot . I cannot remember him missing butI may be wrong !

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