Jimmy Gore joined Botwell Mission from the Army, where he played at centre-half with some distinction. With the Mission he played mainly at right full-back and was a regular member of the side which won its first senior trophy, the Middlesex Senior Cup, in May 1920. He started the next season as first-choice, but was replaced by Jack Brooks and played mainly reserve football thereafter. He regained his place at the start of the 1921-2 season, but emigrated to Australia only three weeks into the season. During his time at the Mission he played 38 times and scored three goals.
Our next entry, Alan Goss, was also a full-back and came to Hayes from Finchley in the summer of 1961, having previously played for Hendon. He was a Middlesex County player and, before that, had played for England Youth. He played the first half of the 1961-2 season at right-back, and then switched to the left when Roy Ruffell joined from Southall at Christmas. During the season he made 43 appearances and scored three goals, including one on his début against Hornchurch on the opening day. He made a further two appearances next season, in an Amateur Cup quarter final replay and in the final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, which was carried over to September 1963, but he played mainly for the reserves. He later joined Wembley.
The next entry needs little introduction, as he joined Hayes in 1999 and played a major part in the club’s successful battle against relegation over two seasons – he is, of course, the extrovert Paul Gothard, whose behaviour supported the theory that all goalkeepers must be mad, as he kept changing hair colour and style, never more spectacularly than on the opening day of the 2000-1 season at Worcester, when he sported a blue rinse and promptly saved a penalty. When Terry Brown signed him from Dagenham & Redbridge as a replacement for the departed Russell Meara, it seemed a stroke of genius. For Paul had already won three non-league international caps and had always impressed in his games for Grays against Hayes. But his time at Hayes was marred by injury and illness. After an impressive start, it became obvious that he was carrying an injury and he had to undergo an operation for hernia, which kept him out until the first match of the new millennium, when he came on as a substitute for the injured Matt Hodson at Sutton – how often can a club boast an international as its reserve goalkeeper? From then on until September Paul was the regular goalkeeper until he was injured in a League Cup tie against Woking – such competitions merit fielding a reserve team. During his absence Hayes suffered seven consecutive defeats and goals were conceded with regularity. His come-back in the goalless draw at Chester just before Christmas proved his worth and his final game, at Doncaster on Easter Saturday, also a goalless draw, showed his commitment when, after keeping the home team at bay for 80 minutes, he had his leg broken by a vicious lunge and had played his last game for Hayes. Thanks largely to his efforts, Hayes had a platform for rescuing their place in the Conference. At the end of the season he rejoined Dagenham & Redbridge as understudy to Andy Roberts – during the crucial 4-1 victory over the Daggers at the end of March, it was noticeable how well he was received by the visiting fans, so his return was no surprise. After a couple of seasons on the substitutes’ bench, he moved to Purfleet, where he continues to provide the last line of defence. At Hayes Paul made a total of 73+1 appearances.
The final entry on this opening day of the 2004-5 season is one of Hayes All-Time Greats – Herbert Henry (‘Bert’) Gower. Born in 1899 and known as ‘Nobby’, Gower was a civil servant and lived in Central Avenue, Hayes. He had started with Ealing Celtic and regularly assisted Dulwich Hamlet when he first played for Botwell Mission at Christmas 1926, while retaining membership of Dulwich Hamlet. In his first game for the Mission, at Aylesbury, he played at centre-forward and scored both goals in a 2-4 defeat. He had already appeared in an Amateur Cup final for Southall in 1925, as well as in a Middlesex Charity Cup final against Hayes the previous year, when a goalless draw at Griffin Park brought a share of the trophy to both clubs. During that same season, Gower had also played twice for Brentford in the Football League, and in 1928-9 he appeared in an England international trial, but never won a cap. He joined the newly renamed Hayes FC at the start of the 1929-30 season, playing mainly at right-back, and was a regular until the end of 1932. During this time, he made 159 appearances and scored 24 goals, appeared in the Amateur Cup final of 1931, and won a winner’s medal in both the Middlesex Senior and London Senior Cups. All through his time with Hayes he regularly represented Middlesex and was awarded a county badge in 1931. At the end of 1932 he joined Uxbridge Town, becoming club secretary in April 1934. He returned to Hayes as 1st team secretary for the 1935-6 season. All the time he was a regular opening bat and wicketkeeper for Hayes Cricket Club, taking over the captaincy and, later, the General Secretaryship. During the 1935 season he scored a century against High Wycombe and in 1938 participated in an opening stand of 240. Curiously, the only injury he ever sustained was not at football but at cricket, when he suffered a splintered bone when hit on the foot in 1934. He gave up both captaincy and secretaryship of the cricket club in 1939, when his department in the Civil Service was evacuated to Harrogate on the declaration of war. His later years were saddened by the death, in August 1943, of his son, Phil, who worked in the television research department of EMI and was accidentally shot and killed while training with the RN Commandos in the New Forest. Bert died at Harrogate, aged only 60, in August 1959.