For all the many times we beat Hayes over the years, how is it one of their two wins that sticks most in the collective mind?
Photo: "Hayes station" by Ewan-M is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

For all the many times we beat Hayes over the years, how is it one of their two wins that sticks most in the collective mind? We’re literally not fooling with you guys here. Despite winning 12 out of 18 meetings, we can’t seem to remember much about them. It’s as if what happened at Broadhall Way on Monday 1 September 1997 wiped whatever good memories we had. For the Boro’ fans that were there, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

If you weren’t, we’ll get there soon enough.

Who are Hayes Football Club?

The story of Hayes Football Club goes back to 1909 when they were formed. If reports are true, there was a religious calling to their existence; Wikipedia suggesting that Eileen Shackle set up the club to allow local lads to have both sporting and religious pursuits in their life. At the start, they went under the name Botwell Mission. ‘Hayes’ wasn’t added to the list of English football club names until 1930 perhaps. That’s the Football Club History Database‘s guess, at least…

For a long time, the Missioners were members of the Athenian League with varying degrees of success. They came second in 1950 and won the title in 1957 on goal average. More often than not, however, they tended to faff around in mid-table.

This was the way of their world until 1971, when they decided to join the Isthmian League. For the first few years, the Missioners struggled at the bottom end of Division One – later renamed the Premier Division. The 1980-1 campaign was the first time they troubled the top half of that table. And it started a little period during the early-to-mid 1980s where they found themselves competing with the sides chasing a place in the Alliance Premier League/Football Conference.

Why do we know the Missioners?

The 1980s weren’t a particularly consistent time for the Missioners. The club spent time lower down the table, before surging back into the upper reaches. It was quite the rollercoaster ride when you look at their league placings going into the 1990s. But there wasn’t much danger of relegation or promotion. So, when Boro’ made the step up to the Premier Division for the first time in 1992, it was inevitable that we’d come across them.

What is our record against them?

The quirks of the non-league fixture list meant that it was late on during the 1992-3 campaign when we first met; losing 2-1 at home on 15 March to end our three-match winning streak. We got off the mark a month-or-so later (24 April) at their place, however; Neil Trebble scoring the only goal at Church Road to ensure honours were even after our maiden head-to-head.

As Boro’ moved through the gears the following season, two victories at their expense helped Cloughie’s side towards promotion. It took us two seasons to reach the Conference; a feat that Hayes failed to achieve in more than 20. We left them behind in the Diadora League – but we’d meet again soon enough; the Missioners noting how it should be done and finally winning the Isthmian League title themselves to reach the Conference two seasons after we had.

As equals once more for the 1996-7 season, it was actually the FA Cup that brought us together first. Our Round One tie saw the Missioners hold us to a 2-2 draw at home, before Barry Hayles’ brace in the replay put us through to Round Two for the first time. In the league, meanwhile, it was business as usual as we recorded another two victories over the west Londoners. Not that we’d be catapulted to the title on this occasion. Another story for another day, eh?

Continuing Conference chums…

Hayes ended their first-ever Conference campaign in 15th, which isn’t that great. But it clearly wasn’t risky territory. Either way, there was no cause for Boro’ to fear their arrival at Broadhall Way at the start of September 1997. How wrong we were. In an ominous sign of how a golden period was at an end for Boro’, the Missioners romped to a 5-1 win under our lights; the young Jason Roberts inspiring one of our worst-ever home defeats.

We picked ourselves up to claim a 3-1 win at their place later on that season, but it still hurts.

The 1998-9 season would be the pinnacle of Hayes’ existence. It sounds dramatic, but the club ended the campaign in third position in the Conference; finishing up a mere SIX points behind eventual champions Cheltenham Town. The four points we took off them that season makes a real dent into that gap. But they can’t pin that one on us. They had other opportunities to find those six points. For the record, they finished six points ahead of us. So, we weren’t far behind.

After that, the Missioners started to sink down the table. Both 1999-00 meetings finished in our favour, while the 2000-1 campaign saw us land them as our festive double-header; winning 1-0 down at theirs on Boxing Day, before returning home on New Year’s Day for a 3-3 draw – where Rob Trott was sent off. They only escaped relegation by three points at the end of the season.

Hayes: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 18 — W 12 — D 4 — L 2 — F 36 — A 21 — Pts 36 — WR 67%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 1-1 Hayes, 15 December 2001

What happened to them?

The Missioners’ luck ran out at the end of the 2001-2 season. Boro’ took another four points off them as they finished four points adrift of safety. Again, you can’t pin that one on us.

So, they fell back into the Isthmian League – and just couldn’t get close to the teams queuing up for their own crack at the Conference. After two unsuccessful bids to get back to the top flight of non-league football, 2004 saw the Missioners become founder members of the new Conference South division; a move that failed to reignite their waning fortunes. Twice they finished just one place above a return to the Isthmian League (2006 and 2007). It wasn’t looking good.

In summer 2007, the curtain fell on Hayes Football Club as a standalone entity. In order to “pool resources” and establish “one super club” that could maybe one day reach the Football League, the Missioners merged with neighbours Yeading Football Club. It had the desired effect. Within two seasons, the new club were ‘back’ in the Blue Square Premier. The Football League? That’s an ambition that is far from being achieved, however. Of course, you can never say never…

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Hayes club profile

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...

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