There have been nine players by the name of Knight - of these five were brothers. But we start with two who was not related.
Kieran Knight came to Hayes in the summer of 2004 and soon became a fans favourite. He is a hard working striker who creates as well as scores, ending both of his first two seasons as the Missioners top scorer. At the time of the merger he had made 135+17 appearances, scoring 41 times. Another whose Church Road career will continue with Hayes & Yeading United.
We now reach one of the high spots of this series, with coverage of the most important family in the history of the club – the Knights of Clayton Road.
William and Sarah Knight had ten children: nine boys and a girl. The boys were: William (born 1880), Ernest (1890), Henry (1892), Albert (1893), Frederick (1895), Percy (1897), Reginald (1899), Cyril and Arthur (both born after 1901). The only girl was Ada Florence (1887). There is an unsubstantiated suspicion that Mr Knight, whose occupation is given as a fishmonger in the 1901 census, was associated with the original Hayes FC, which lasted from 1893 until 1908. There is another story that all nine brothers played football at one time or another for Botwell Mission - five of them certainly did and they were all forwards but there is no evidence that William, Ernest and Henry did. There is also no evidence that any more than three of them played in the same side, much less the old chestnut about an entire forward line of Knights. Another two players by the name of Knight played for the Mission in the 1920s – William, who previously played for Norwood Athletic, was certainly not related, and E Knight was probably not brother Ernest, who would have been making his début at the age of 34.
The first of the brothers was Albert Knight, an inside forward, who was the Mission’s first captain (pictured second left, front row in the 1910-11 team below, next to Freddy). He played for the Mission’s first two seasons, but not thereafter. We have a record of him playing in at least ten matches in 1910-11, but the only goals which he know for sure that he scored were a hat-trick in the 13-1 defeat of Yiewsley Juniors in an Uxbridge & District Junior League Minor Division match in November 1910. Along with all the other members of the Mission team, he enlisted in 1914 and was killed on the Somme in 1916 at the age of 23.
Next in age was Freddy Knight (pictured left in 1911), the Mission’s most feared centre-forward, who had always been big for his age and terrorised defenders. He was one of the first Missioners to win representative honours, when, together with Alf Sceeny, he was selected for the Hanwell & District League team against the Richmond League on Boxing Day 1913, and was the first to win a county cap, when chosen for Middlesex FA against London in January 1921. During the Great War, when the Mission suspended operations, he played twice for Brentford in the London Combination, scoring two goals in two games. In 1921, he was twice selected for QPR in the Football League, scoring the only goal of the game against Aberdare Athletic (pictured below right). He is also on record as having played for Chelsea before September 1920, but I have been unable to find the details. This suggests that he might have made a success of turning professional, and it was rumoured that Everton were keen on signing him at one stage. But the professional game’s loss was Botwell Mission’s gain, as he scored over 30 goals in five out of six seasons between 1920 and 1926, and managed 23 in the sixth. But when the goals dried up and he was replaced by Danny Blackwell in September 1926, he announced that he was taking a rest from football, played a few games for Southall with his brother Cyril, and then joined Staines. It was for Staines that he scored four goals in a Middlesex Charity Cup tie against Hayes in November 1928, only to find himself on the losing side, as Jimmy Harmsworth scored seven out of eight goals for the Mission. But Freddy’s heart was at Hayes, and he rejoined the newly renamed club in November 1929 and played through to March 1930. While he played second fiddle to Jimmy Harmsworth, he still managed a further 13 goals in 19 games and became more of a provider than a finisher. It is difficult to know how many appearances he made and goals he scored for Hayes, because the pre-war games were not all reported. The incomplete records show at least 53 appearances and 27 goals. After the war he made at least 257 appearances and scored 233 goals – a phenomenal rate. It is not known what he did after leaving Hayes – reports that he joined Chelmsford are almost certainly wrong. But it is known that he took up refereeing in the mid-1930s and refereed Hayes v Chelsea ‘A’ on Guy Fawkes Day 1938. He was appointed Hayes coach in October 1947, succeeding Jimmy Ward, but the appointment seems to have been based more on sentiment than substance and there is no further mention of him in this capacity. He died, barely noticed, in August 1973. He would be my vote for ‘Mr Hayes FC’.
Freddy’s younger brother, Percy Knight, was one of the earliest products of ‘Gaffer’ Clarke at the Hayes Council School in Clayton Road. During 1908-9 he scored four hat-tricks for the school team, of which he was captain, and also skippered Middlesex Schools. In 1911 he was a member of the team which won the Daily Telegraph Cup for Middlesex schools. His form for Botwell Mission’s reserves in Division 3 of the Hanwell & District League in 1913-14 led to his selection for the divisional team against the Wembley & Harrow League on Easter Monday 1914, and he scored the final goal in a 3-1 win. He made his debut for Botwell Mission at the start of the abortive 1914-15 season, scoring both goals in the 2-0 victory over Brentford Gas Works in the opening fixture of the Hounslow & District League. But his later appearances for the club were limited by the fact that he worked at Calcutta in India, and he is known to have played only four times for the club on the left wing: once in the opening fixture of the 1921-2 season, and three times in 1929-30.
The next brother, Reg Knight, could potentially have been the greatest of them all, but fate did not allow him the chance to achieve that potential. An inside- or centre-forward, he also started with the Clayton Road school side, playing as a 10-year-old alongside boys four years his senior. He is recorded as playing for Brentford before September 1920, and certainly played for QPR reserves in November 1920. He played for Botwell Mission for two and a half seasons, averaging exactly one goal per game over 62 matches. He was first taken ill with what turned out to be tuberculosis in November 1921, and played his last game for the Mission in December, scoring three goals against Slough in an Amateur Cup replay. He died in July 1922. Two of his older brothers, Henry (later in 1922) and William (April 1924) also succumbed to the same scourge. There seems little doubt that Reg could have eclipsed even Freddy.
The youngest of the brothers, Cyril Knight, in spite of his large size, normally occupied the outside-right spot, but could also play on the other wing, at inside-forward, or even at wing-half. Another product of Clayton Road school, he made his debut for the Mission in October 1920 and played relatively few games until the mid-1920s. He was loaned to Brentford during 1919-20, and played for Southall in 1926-7. He also played for Leyton at some time before 1930. He was talented enough to play for Tottenham Hotspur’s mid-week team in 1928-9, and was selected for an international trial at Blackpool in November 1931. It was while he was with Southall that he was first selected for the Athenian League against Corinthians in January 1926; he was selected a further three times for the league team in 1931-2, against RAF, Corinthians and the Spartan League. He was the only member of the Hayes team to keep his place when Mortimer Miller put together his ‘wonder team’ on election to the Athenian League in 1930. He retained his place through the Amateur Cup run in 1930-1, and into the next season, culminating in winning the London Senior Cup, scoring one of the goals in the final against Ilford. Immediately after this match, Cyril turned professional with Crystal Palace, along with Charlie Brown. But it did not work out; a broken ankle, sustained in his first match for the Athenian League team, meant that he could not stand the strain of professional football, and he did not make a single first-team appearance. He gained a permit to play as an amateur for his works team at Park Royal in 1934-5. During his Hayes career, he made 179 appearances and scored 68 goals. He was last reported as attending Hayes’ Amateur Cup tie at Alton Town in January 1959 – by now he was a business man, based at Bournemouth.
What a family!
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