Bennett - Blizzard
Hayes has had no shortage of brothers, often in the same team. The Bennings, however, did not overlap. Paul was the first, playing 25+2 games in 1988-9. He played in Australia for Gosnells City, before returning to England with Peterborough United, and joining Hayes in 1988. At the end of the 1988-9 season he moved to Chesham United, and then went to Aylesbury United and Hungerford Town. Terry, a fireplace builder, joined as a 28-year-old in 1990, having previously played for St Albans, Chesham and Hendon, after being an apprentice at Brentford. He played 72+17 games for Hayes in three seasons, before following Harry Manoe to Harrow Borough. Later he became assistant manager to another former Hayes player, Steve Emmanuel, at Northwood, and even scored against his old team in a surprise Middlesex Senior Cup win in 1997.
T ‘Jock’ Benson was a real character in the 1920s; he was a committee member in 1922-8, secretary in 1923-4, and team manager in 1925-8, although his was only one vote among five in team selection matters. He even found time to start a supporters’ club in 1925. He lived at 19 Longmead Avenue and, as the photograph shows, wore an eye-patch with distinction, but I have been unable to find if this was an affectation or a war wound. My suspicion is that it was the latter, as he also had a wooden leg. When a photograph was taken at the end of the 1922-3 season to show off the two Middlesex trophies which Botwell Mission had won, he posed his son Ben with them. He was a caretaker at Townfield School and narrowly missed a bomb, which fell in the school playground in September 1940, killing former Botwell Mission stalwart William Deamer and his wife. The last record which I have found of him was in March 1957, when he sent a good luck telegram to Hayes before the Amateur Cup semi-final at Newcastle.
At this distance in time it can be difficult to distinguish between players with a similar name playing at the same time: the two Richardsons in 1936-7, JE and JF Gregory in 1947-8, the two Ron Gadsdens in 1948-9, the two Betts (or were they one?) in 1945-7. So it is with the Bentleys in the mid-1930s. First of all, an A Bentley was reported as joining Hayes in August 1936 from Park Royal and Southall; he was then called T Bentley in the first public trial; then G or C Bentley made two appearances at inside-right during the season; finally, SC Bentley made one appearance at right-half against Romford on August 28 1937. Unfortunately, he was taken ill in March 1938 and died on 19 March. His death was observed by a one-minute silence before the match with Enfield on the following Saturday. His is not the only death which will be reported in this column, but serves as a reminder that footballers, even at their young age, are not immune to the ultimate red card.
There is no mistake about the identity of Reg Bickley, who played 71 times, mainly at outside-right, scoring twelve goals over the years 1948-52. A diminutive player, he arrived from Heston in 1948. Competition with Eric Lovell and Derek Neate for a wing place meant that he had to move to inside-forward quite often, and he then followed Alan King to Hounslow in the Corinthian League in November 1950, came back to Hayes in the summer of 1951, and then went back permanently to Hounslow Town in 1952 and regularly played against Hayes until 1957. He was selected for the Corinthian League team which defeated the Athenian League at Hayes in September 1954. In later years he was often a spectator at Church Road.
Troy Birch was a left-sided midfielder, who came to Hayes from Uxbridge in 1994 with a reputation to match his name - he had been Players’ Player of the Year for 1993-4 and had scored 16 goals. But at Hayes he suffered from injuries and made only 5+1 appearances.
Of the three players by the name of Bird to have represented, two were goalkeepers. First of all, G Bird (predictably known as ‘Dickie’) was goalkeeper from 1912 to 1914 and came from Yiewsley. He appears in the Botwell Mission team photograph for 1913-14 aside, and in the 1946 electoral register, living at 26 Manor Road, Hayes. J Bird was also a goalkeeper (did it run in the blood?). He joined from QPR, where he had played regularly during the last war-time season, including in the 1944 Middlesex Red Cross Cup final at Wembley, and made 21 appearances in 1945-6.
Rob Bixby was a bulky centre-back who progressed through the ranks, made his debut in 2003 and went on to make 45+5 appearances over three seasons, scoring twice, before moving to Maidenhead United.
When Freddie Knight was dropped for poor form in September 1926 and subsequently left, his replacement was Danny Blackwell, who had joined Botwell Mission from Hanwell. It could not have been easy to walk in the great man’s shoes, but he managed 13 goals in 18 matches.
Finally, Johnny Blizzard came to Hayes from Aylesbury United and Southall with a reputation as a fast, dangerous outside-right in 1955. He had been on Brentford’s books as an amateur, and went on Hayes’ Whitsun tour to Switzerland as a guest and started the new season as one of Hayes’ great hopes. But after only seven games and one goal, he asked to be dropped because he was not satisfied with his form, and then joined Sutton United and, then, Hitchin Town. In 1957 he played for Tooting & Mitcham against Hayes. Obviously there was more to the matter than reached the press, and the Hayes News called him the ‘come-and-go boy of local football’.
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