Friday, R - Fulker
We come to the end of the ‘F’s, but not before recording the exploits of Robin Friday, a mercurial centre-forward, who joined Hayes in December 1971 from Walthamstow Avenue. He was a larger-than-life character, an extrovert, who lived life to the full, and paid the price, dying in 1991 at the age of 37, alone, after abusing his body with drink and drugs. In his youth he played for QPR and Chelsea juniors, spent ime in a young offenders’ centre, and became a labourer, specialising in asphalting. Although he came from Acton, he joined Walthamstow because they paid £10 per week. In 1971-2, he scored twice against Hayes and then heard that they would be prepared to pay more for his talents, so joined Hayes. He then proceeded to electrify the Hayes attack. In the summer of 1972 he suffered a serious injury, when he fell on a spike on a building site, and underwent an operation lasting 4½ hours. Incredibly, within 9 weeks, he was back leading the Hayes attack in what turned out to be his most prolific season, and one in which he helped Hayes to beat Football League opposition and reach round 2 of the FA Cup for the first time. In the match with Reading he caught the attention of Reading manager, Charlie Hurley, who would later sign him for the Royals. In the autumn of 1973 he switched allegiance to Enfield, even scoring for them against Hayes in an FA Cup tie after seeming to control the ball with his hand, but he rejoined Hayes in December in time to play in the club’s last Amateur Cup tie at Bishop’s Stortford in January 1974. Shortly afterwards he signed professional terms with Reading. During his Hayes career he had played 67 games and scored 46 goals. It is significant that he was never selected as substitute until his last match, when he was held in reserve for a match with Reading on the following day – on more than one occasion Hayes entered the field of play with only ten players, expecting him to arrive late.
There are enough stories about Robin, even thirty years afterwards, to fill a book. In fact, Robin Friday is one of only two ex-Hayes players (the other is Cyrille Regis) to have had a book written about him by someone else - The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw, by Paul McGuigan and Paolo Hewitt. One story must be told from it. Clive Thomas, the World Cup referee, was in charge of a match between Reading and Tranmere in 1976, when Friday scored a goal, which was described in the Reading Evening Post as an ‘amazing goal…that will surely be talked about as long as football is played at Elm Park’, and which was chosen by Reading fans as their club’s ‘goal of the millennium’. The 10,961 fans stood in stunned silence; Thomas, the unemotional, undemonstrative referee, clapped. Afterwards he said: “I’ll never forget it. It was the sheer ferocity of the shot on the volley from the half-way line over his shoulder. I just could not believe it at the time. If it hadn’t gone into the top corner of the net it would have broken the goalpost. Even up against the likes of Pele and Cruyff, it still rates as the best goal I have ever seen. After the game I went up to him and said ‘I have to tell you that that is the best goal I have ever seen.’ Robin just looked at me and said, “Really? You should come down here more often. I do that every week.” He featured in the Hayes Men series in the programme for the televised FA Cup tie with Wycombe in November 2001, but did not make my Hayes Greatest XI, because he was impossible to manage.
Other players pale by comparison. Nevertheless, Rod Fruen would normally draw plaudits for his goalscoring ability. Wherever he went, he scored goals. Starting at Walton & Hersham, he took part in Chesham United’s run from the qualifying rounds to the final of the Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1968. He then joined Hayes in summer 1968 and scored 38 goals in 132+2 games in two-and-a-half seasons at a time when Hayes were scoring few goals. He resigned from Hayes and joined Leatherhead in January 1971; two months later he scored the only goal of a quarter-final replay for his new club against Hayes. He continued to play for Leatherhead until 1974, when he joined Kingstonian, quickly moving again, this time to Staines Town.
J Fuell was one of several brothers who played in Hayes in the early days. It can be difficult to distinguish between them: a Jack Fuell played at full-back for Hayes Athletic in 1910-12, and a Jim Fuell played at inside-forward for the same club in 1910-11. The Botwell Mission player was only ever identified by his initial, so it is not clear whether he was Jack or Jim or neither. (Don’t forget that Johnny Gregory had seven children, whose names all started with ‘J’!). He played at right-back in the team which won the Mission’s first trophy, the Niddlesex Minor Cup, against Southall Lads’ Church Brigade in 1912. In the following season, he was a regular at full-back in the Uxbridge & District Junior League Minor Division, making at least 13 appearances, and in 1913-14, when the Mission played in the Hanwell & District League, as well. In both seasons the Mission won the Uxbridge League, but had to be satisfied with third place in the Hanwell league. He appears not to have played in the abortive 1914-15 season – it is assumed that he had already signed up for military service. But he obviously survived the Great War, for he was elected to the Botwell Mission committee at the AGM in 1920.
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