Hamworthy Royals is a team very much close to Ian Heyward’s heart. It is the youth team that he managed in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I am fortunate enough to have played for him from 1987, where my babysitter gave me the best birthday present ever. He gave me the number of the Hamworthy Royals manager, Ian Heyward. As an excited ten year old I joined the team that would dominate my life until seventeen.
Ian Hayward is a special man that paved the way for many youngsters to play football. He gave up his time to ensure there was enjoyment for all and is a thoroughly decent man. Grassroots football rely heavily on people like him, always have and always will do. All sports need volunteers to enable a healthy and sociable nation to exist. It’s surely their motivation to give youngsters something to do as opposed to unearthing that next big thing.
Talking to him in my ‘Lockdown’ Football Chat was an absolute pleasure and he was on top form as ever. Once he got on the phone line he knew it was me straight away and typically he asked how every member of my family are, personally asking after everyone of them. His role as my youth football manager extended to a role model to my family and they respected him and looked up to him as much as I did. Youth football management is not just about bibs and footballs.
Our discussion took me to the days to when I would walk round to his house with my football boots and goalie gloves (my shin pads would be on) and let myself in the back gate. Here, I would be greeted by his late wife, the wonderful Margaret who would always give me drink and a biscuit whilst waiting. I would arrive early to have a chat and they always made me feel part of their family. Lovely people and the memories came flooding back of playing football for Hamworthy Royals and beyond.
Some of my playing days inevitably were recalled but I was keen to explore Heyward’s very own playing days. Now was the perfect time as I was not a cheeky twelve year old sat in the back of his car joking around with Phil, his youngest son. It was an absolute pleasure to chat to him and I learnt a great deal about his time playing football.
Hayward is a Tottenham supporter and football today is not like the good old days. He proudly informs me that his great grandson has a Manchester United and Tottenham shirt to reflect the family teams. I mock the Spurs part and Ian is quick to stop me in an assertive yet jokey way. Straight away he jumped in and that moment identified his passion for The Spurs was still fully intact.
He won’t mind me saying that he is disillusioned with modern football and the extortionate sums that players are paid. I am reliably informed that he still watches every match and I’m sure he keeps as close an eye on Harry Kane as he did of Jimmy Greaves. Of course he does because football is in his blood. Born in November 1942, it has been for the best part of his seventy seven and a bit years.
Football is the heartbeat of his family. His oldest son, David is a massive Manchester United fan, as well as his grandson, Ryan. Phil supports Everton, a product of those glory days from the late 1980’s.
“When I was playing, I just loved it,” said Hayward. He played anywhere across the back four but was started off as a full back. It has become a theme that the players of this time were happy to play anywhere. Usually playing positions were fixed but if the rare occasion they were told to play somewhere different they would without hesitation.
He actually started out as goalkeeper as a ten year old playing for Reading Schoolboys. A broken finger ended his goalkeeping career. He was playing at the old Stamford Bridge and dived to save a ball.
“It caught my hand between the ball and the post and I knew I had done something because at half time I kept my glove on.
“My coach told me to take my glove off and when I did my finger dropped down. I swapped with the centre half at half time and we beat London 1-0. I got man of the match and stayed in defence since that day.”
Heyward moved down to Poole as a thirteen year and played for Langland Street Boys Club. He relished looking back at those times and in particular a one sided cup final victory:
“We had a hell of a team. We beat Trinidad 14-0 in the Dorset National Association of Boys Clubs, otherwise known as The Rockley Cup in the final. I think this is the record victory margin for this cup.”
It had to be coaxed out of Hayward that he managed to notch two goals in the second half as the team swapped their positions around. This moved him onto his time playing adult football Wessex Industries in The Dorset Minor Cup Final.
“We played the Borstal Boys from Portland at Wareham in a force ten gale and kept it 0-0 at half time against the wind. In the second half we scored ten.”
It was not uncommon to have a defender to take the ground goal kicks for the goalkeeper in youth and adult football. Hayward joked that he took twenty six goal kicks in the first half at Wareham.
“Our goalkeeper, Roy Saunders never took goal kicks. He was a hell of a goalkeeper and played for Dorset as well when he was younger. He was a cracking bloke and a cracking player.”
Hayward was quick to move from story to story and was enthusiastic in reciting his football memories. However, how often do you get the chance to recall your very own playing days in such detail? It was a lovely conversation to be part of.
He mentioned playing for Dorset County at under 18 and 21 levels as well as playing for Dorchester in the Southern League. Hayward recalled meeting an old Dorchester football coach whilst playing darts some years after.
Whilst chatting it emerged that this gentleman had a photograph of Hayward at home and brought it in when they played darts the next time. His eldest son, David could not identify his ‘old man’ when the photograph was revealed to him. “I didn’t recognise you with all that hair,” said David. Ian joked that he looked like David but in those days it was trendy to let the hair bloom. He doesn’t strike me as the type of bloke to sport an Alice band or a ponytail.
The football community is fantastic because you can have friends or acquaintances for life. You do not need to know their name but you can nod and say ‘hello’ whilst shopping. There are countless conversations with people you may not know the name of but you have seen them regularly a couple of times every year for a decade. The battle on the football pitch allows friendships to prevail and before you know it your photograph is on display at a darts match.
The after match playing facilities were commented on and it was very much simpler times.
“In those days playing for Dorchester in the Southern League you never had showers and after the game you would just jump into a big bath together. Imagine doing that now? It would do everyone’s head in, ha-ha.”
He recalled having a conversation with Les Kearley, a former Wessex team mate about messing around in the baths after the matches and its importance to team bonding. Les Kearley played with Hayward in his latter years at Wessex and was a player he respected and admired. This was extended throughout Dorset where Kearley played many seasons for Hamworthy United. He wasn’t that tall but was skilful and always had a footballing brain where he had the vision to see pictures on the pitch. Kearley wouldn’t mind a challenge but was always fair in his attempts to win possession back for his team.
Hayward was actually an apprentice for AFC Bournemouth or Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic as they were known back then. He served the reserves for three seasons in the old Football Combination League where in those days you travelled to London and got the chance to play on all of the grounds as well.
“I was an apprentice at fifteen at Bournemouth and played reserve team football then.
“When you played Chelsea reserves you played at Stamford Bridge. When you played Tottenham reserves you played at White Hart Lane. When you played Arsenal reserves you played at Highbury.
“Sometimes in those reserve matches you would have top players coming back from injury.
“When we were playing against Chelsea reserves, Jackie Fisher, our coach bless his heart said, ‘you’ve got a nice bloke to mark today, Ian Hutchinson. He is coming back from injury and don’t kill him.’ I didn’t kill him and he gave me a signed shirt after where he said I played well and that he’ll look out for me.
“I had one first team match for Bournemouth, that’s all. I played at Charlton’s Valley. A player got injured and I got asked to play left back and did okay where we won 1-0.
The injured guy came back in for the next game. That was the way it was in those days the youngsters stepped in then made way for the experienced player.”
It is interesting to hear about football in the 50’s when you would only play when needed and youngsters very much served their apprenticeship. In today’s game players can be fast tracked into first teams without much experience. That may have been the benefit of the reserve team system back in those days.
Hayward mentioned that you played in positions and rarely switched around to suit the team. If you were a right half you were a right half. The manager would not ask the player to play centre forward one week. There was no swapping around and you played in the team pattern all of the time.
Reading Matt Dickenson’s, ‘Booby Moore, The Man in Full,’ identifies how Ron Greenwood transformed Bobby Moore from a midfielder to a central defender. Likewise, moving Geoff Hurst from midfield to attack. Changing positions back then was very much a process. Square pegs went into square holes, it was as simple as that.
It’s fascinating to hear Hayward talk about his playing career because he used to focus on keeping our youth team on track for our matches around Dorset in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There were minimal conversations during our nine years together with Hamworthy Royals.
Those car journeys usually consisted of us listening to Classic Gold (I somehow always remember Freda Payne, Band of Gold being played) on the way to a match and the Radio 5 football commentary on the way back.
He would try and jest with me about the constant failings of Manchester United but his suggestion of Spurs was not an appealing alternative. These memories are cemented together with the customary cigar that would be puffed in celebration or commiseration of our performance.
He played for Dorchester, Weymouth, Salisbury but had to forge a full time profession too. Hayward was an apprentice painter and decorator that would serve him well throughout his career and football enabled a release from his full time profession.
“People would just enjoy playing football as it released you from the day to day pressures of work. You would get together training or playing on a Wednesday when at Dorchester. There was camaraderie and togetherness.”
During his playing days Hayward was quick to give advice to younger players at Dorchester. Hayward pulled aside a struggling sixteen year old to say, “lose your inhibitions and just get stuck in.” He was struggling with the physicality of men’s football and Hayward wanted to help his young team mate.
Whilst playing left back he told the young left half to sit in when he went forward. Simple advice but advice that needs to be heard and I’m sure this young lad felt more assured on the pitch as a consequence.
These discussions were conducted off his own back and the manager was not consulted. It did not seem a disrespectful act but more of an assertive one in taking responsibility. The youngster went on to win the Young Player of the Year Award at the end of the season.
“He was a lovely kid that did everything you asked him to do. He thanked me for helping him through the season. The other day I was trying to think of his bloody name and it’s gone. He ended up at Bristol City, I think.”
Hayward was the grand old age of nineteen but helping others relax and enjoy their football would become a lifelong trait. He summarised my goalkeeping extremely well and extremely accurately whilst playing at Hamworthy Royals:
“Up until you were twelve you were a great shot stopper but a little hesitant and lacked confidence. We kept pushing and pushing you and once you got to thirteen or fourteen something just clicked and you were more confident. You were double the goalkeeper you were earlier.”
This post is not about me but I have to state that Ian Heyward, without question is the biggest influence on my footballing career outside my family. For ten years he was family. He had belief in me and never gave up in trying to get me to a professional club.
When Yeovil Town youth were in our league in 1993/94 season I was invited to go down for a few trials. Ian would drive me down, taking days off work in the process. We were given verbal promises that I would be signed at sixteen and when the letter came through the door in March 1994 I was extremely excited. Once opened, the excitement turned into devastation as the handwritten letter informed me that I would not be signed.
In a state of shock, I made the half an hour walk on that Monday March evening to knock on his door to inform him of my sad news. I just burst into tears when I told him. Looking back I think I was as gutted for Ian as I was for myself. A man that gave up so much time for the belief he had in me. Looking back some twenty six years later I realise the sacrifices he made and for that I am ever so grateful. He made me dream.
“I tried my best to get you into a professional club because I felt you were good enough. That hurt me when Yeovil fell through and I know it hurt you.”
I could hear the disappointment in his voice and it made me feel quite emotional in recalling that conversation. There is a small lump whilst typing this.
He promised that he would get me another trial and in those days you would write endlessly to clubs. Heyward’s promise came true and got me a trial at AFC Bournemouth a year later. I performed well but not well enough. For those moments in my life I had that dream of playing professional football which I would not change. I am eternally grateful to Ian Hayward in allowing that dream to happen.
Hayward suggested that I signed for a Dorset men’s club and he managed to get me to sign for the Dorset Division One Champions, Allendale. The baton had been passed from youth football to men’s football and he ensured that I was able to play at a half decent level. For the whole of the 1994/95 season Hayward gave up his Saturday afternoon to either drive me or watch me play in men’s football that season. He would always give an honest assessment of my performance too.
Hayward maintains that it is all about a progression with young footballers and that you don’t push them too hard. Let them enjoy themselves and develop their natural talents. They learn along the way and that way you get a better player. He never shouted and was welcoming and just thrived in allowing youngsters the chance to play their football at Hamworthy Royals.
His proudest moment whilst running Hamworthy Royals came when we defeated the much fancied Charminster Saints 4-2 in the under eleven 1989 Dorset Cup. Hamworthy Royals raced into a 4-0 lead by half time at the Bournemouth Waterworks Ground in Wallisdown. This was a lovely playing surface and sadly the ground or team do not exist now.
There was a poignancy to this achievement as Hamworthy Royals sadly lost one of their players, Edward Johnson passing away at the start of that season. All of the players said we would win the league for Edward and his spirit helped in defeating the Bournemouth League Champions in that cup final. Having been a PE teacher for sixteen years and running numerous teams I would not know how to cope with that devastation. Ian Hayward helped us all through this tragedy and ensured we had minimal grief. Looking back, I suppose I did not understand but the, ‘We’ll win it for Edward’ motto spurred us on. His voice dropped whilst recalling that sad time.
Hamworthy Royals was a big part of Hayward’s life because it dominated his life for ten or so years. He saw a couple of teams all the way through to eighteen and my team were the last. There were a couple of us including his younger son, Phil that played all the way through until eighteen with Hamworthy Royals. Personally, I could not think about playing for anyone else and I can safely state it was the happiest nine years of my footballing life.
Being a youth football manager is much more than football. You are an agony uncle, a role model and a community youth officer. Here, he would take youngsters off the streets and give them a purpose with a common goal. Hamworthy Royals had many characters and their lives were enhanced for the opportunity to play football each week. Volunteering your own time at your own expense is priceless and Ian Heyward should be thoroughly appreciated by all that he helped.
Hamworthy Royals all ended in 1995, quite abruptly at an end of the season and off you went into the big wide world. Sadly, in those times you just moved on as there was no social media or mobile phones to keep contact. Lifelong friendships were forged and Ian Heyward should be extremely proud of the contribution he made to that. He certainly helped nurture many of my good friends in that journey from youngster to adult.
One memory after Hamworthy Royals finished was when I was playing a rare game on pitch for Hamworthy United and Heyward was referee. He was always a stickler for the rules and refereed matches with a strict yet fair authority. It always seemed he was harsher when he refereed his own team. He would only want his team to win on their own merit and rightly so.
In this match I was playing centre midfield and I turned a player in the centre circle and played an inch perfect through pass to our striker to score. Whilst running back Hayward whispered to me, “you could always play on pitch.” My response was, “why did you always bloody play me in goal then?”
Looking back now that match was the last time we were involved in a football match and I wish I knew that then. It was a lovely moment.
Hayward had plenty to keep him occupied after Hamworthy Royals with the arrival of his Grandson, Ryan. Ryan followed in the footsteps of his father, David as a big Manchester United fan, much to the annoyance of Ian. In fact, David and his best mate Jarrod used to provide autographs and programmes for me when they visited Old Trafford in the early 90’s. I would look forward to seeing what they had for me, more than the match I was about to play.
Ryan is also a goalkeeper that has played for a few teams in Poole and Ian is extremely proud of him. I am sure his honest and frank assessments are now transferred to Ryan. There is no doubt that this will ensure he plays at the highest standard possible.
One occasion down at Bridport Heyward was helping with Ryan’s team, Poole Borough and got chatting to an old team mate. This conversation led to three ex-team mates recalling their days at Dorchester. As mentioned, football allows lifelong friendships to happen and it is more prevalent at grassroots level.
Football is most definitely in his blood and he will always enjoy watching the local teams play in Hamworthy. He is on the committee of Poole Borough Football Club and they should be thoroughly grateful to have someone of his vast experience on board.
Hayward moved on to discuss professional football and the great teams that he saw play. “Now I am going to surprise you [in reference to me supporting Manchester United] but the beast teams I saw play were The Busby Babes and the 1961 Tottenham Double winning side,” said Hayward.
Of the Busby Babes, Hayward said:
“The Busby Babes were brilliant. Their outstanding player was Duncan Edwards and he was only young. He was a hard player, Nobby Stiles was similar but Edwards was not as dirty as Stiles. Edwards had the technical ability as well.”
Tottenham are his footballing love and he recalled the good old ‘Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur’ days at White Hart Lane.
“That was push and run football. You would get the ball, push it into space and run onto it. It was proper football played on the ground. Spurs had Bobby Smith up front and they would push the ball down the line and crossed into him in the box to nod home.
“I was living in Edmonton at the time and Tottenham was just down the road. We used to walk down to the ground to watch them play and walk home again.
“At Tottenham’s old ground there used to be what seemed 90,000 there watching. All of the children would be lifted to the front to watch the matches.
“They literally passed you on top of others to the front because there was so many people crammed in the stands. There were no gaps and was standing room only.
Hayward also used to travel to watch away matches on free buses that were provided. He watched matches at Bolton, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton. The former Bolton and England goalkeeper Eddie Hopkinson was remembered:
“Eddie was good. He wasn’t that tall but was spring heeled. When he jumped to catch the ball or push the ball over he was way above everyone else.
“The players were dedicated to their training. When I was at Bournemouth we used to have a goalkeeper called Tommy Godwin that demanded extra practice once training was finished.
“In those days training happened at Dean Court and I would happily fire corners or penalties his way. He used to tell me where to place the ball for him to take it. I had a lot of time for him, a real lovely bloke.”
Similar coaching sessions happened to me in my teenage years at Hamworthy Royals and Hayward would always be launching high balls for me to claim.
Football is never going to go away from Ian Hayward, especially as his Great Grandson was proudly wearing a Spurs shirt during our conversation and I get the sense of déjà vu with him. Nothing will give him more pleasure and he will be the first person there on the side-lines watching him play.
Is it a love for the game or the love watching people enjoy the game? Personally, Ian Heyward enjoys watching those nearest and dearest play the game and he thrives on this. This man has had a massive influence on my life and words cannot explain and do it justice. He helped me dream big and was very close in succeeding there. However, making me the confident person that has been lucky to make so many friends is the biggest prize of all. For that I am ever so grateful and cannot thank Ian Hayward enough.
As for Ian, I am sure he will find time to read this but only when he has finished helping his great grandson improve his footballing skills. He wouldn’t have it any other way.