How Dover Athletic boss Martin Hayes could have become a Huddersfield Town player
Nov 30 2010 by Dougie Thomson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
MARTIN HAYES will bring his Dover Athletic side to Huddersfield in the third round of the FA Cup recalling how he could easily have become a Town player.
The Conference South club’s manager was on the fringes of the first team at Arsenal when recently-installed boss George Graham accepted Town’s £25,000 offer in September 1986.
Midfielder Hayes, then 20, headed to Leeds Road for talks with Mick Buxton, only to turn down the move.
“Arsenal are the only club I want to play for,” he explained. “I had 14 games last season and thought that was the foundation for this campaign.
“But then there was a change of manager, and while I know Perry Groves has just been signed, I really don’t feel George Graham has seen me at my best.”
Graham was certainly made to change his view – after Hayes returned to Leeds Road for a League Cup tie soon after and came of the bench to score in a 2-0 Gunners win.
Londoner Hayes ended up scoring 34 goals in 132 appearances for Arsenal before spells at Celtic and Swansea.
He helped the Welsh side beat Town on penalties in the 1994 Autoglass Trophy final at Wembley, and later had a short spell at Dover as a player.
He was appointed manager in the summer after spells in charge of Bishop’s Stortford and Wingate and Finchley.
Dover are sixth in their table and having eliminated Erith, Cambridge City and Farnborough in the FA Cup qualifying stages, hit the headlines by knocking League II duo Gillingham in the first round and Aldershot in Saturday’s second round clash.
Former Arsenal striker Adam Birchall scored both goals for the home side, taking his FA Cup tally to 11 and total season’s haul to 22.
After stints at Barnet and Mansfield, the 25-year-old says he’s more than happy at the Kent club, explaining: “Since leaving Arsenal I haven’t loved a club the way I love Dover.
“Right from the top down, people feel just as I do about the club.
“It’s nice to play for a team, even though we’re lower down, with people who want it to go somewhere.”
The third-round tie, Dover’s first at this stage of the competition, will take place on the weekend of January 8/9.