Barry Hayles. One of the finest Boro’ players of all time, let’s be honest. And it all started back in 1994, when he came to us from Willesden Hawkeye. It was then-manager Paul Fairclough who caught sight of the precocious talent, and the signing proved to be quite the masterstroke. Arriving at Broadhall Way, Hayles embarked on a prolific, three-year goalscoring spree. On average, the lad was banging in a goal every two starts.
It made him, therefore, a key part of the 1995-6 Conference title-winning side. And he was regularly topping the scoring charts at the top end of the non-league tree. It is no surprise that he went on to bigger and better things, mainly because Boro’ were told in no uncertain terms there’d be no Football League promotion in 1996. That verdict was to have serious ramifications for Boro’; Hayles moving on and up to Bristol Rovers.
Barry Hayles: After Boro’
One year later, and Fulham came calling. It wasn’t long before the striker found himself at the top level; a Premier League player thanks to the Cottagers’ own rise up the divisions. After six years with the Craven Cottage club, it was time once again for Barry Hayles to move on again in 2004.
Not that it ended his League career. First was a switch to Sheffield United, then came a move to Millwall. And there was Plymouth Argyle too; two years in the South West and still finding the net at Championship level. It was enough to get Leicester City interested too.
With the best of his career arguably behind him, Hayles stepped down to Cheltenham in his next career move before his release in 2010. There were rumours of a romantic return to Boro’, but that has (so far) failed to materialise. And we say so far because he was still going strong in 2017, five separate clubs later.
Apart from his club career, meanwhile, Hayles was no stranger to the England C setup. He received his first cap in 1994 against Scottish counterparts, before appearing again just before his move to Bristol Rovers. It was a side that also included Lee Hughes, as it goes.