Interview with Allyson Latta

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Hometown Boy

I remember the day my dad Graham Leggat called to tell me that Johnny Haynes had died in a car crash. It was October 18th, 2005. I met Mr Haynes as a very young girl when my dad was still a professional footballer in England. He's one of those people from my past that always felt like family and he was a big part of our family. As was Fulham Football Club. My Mum and Dad loved Johnny, in the same way I've gathered that everyone who knew him personally, played with or against him or as a fan does. My dad played alongside him at Fulham and says, "Johnny was a wonderful all-round player and a captain that led from the front." When I ask what he was like as a friend Dad says, "loyal and concerned." He also added that he was a 'one club man' from game one. My mum Marilyn Leggat says that Johnny was greatly loved."He was prized and a big part of English football history, very special." She recalls, and it brings her to tears, an incident after a game at Craven Cottage that she had attended when she received a call that my brother, 4 yrs old at the time, had been struck by a car. Johnny immediately went to my mum's side to ask what was wrong and what could he do. Mum says, "He was so concerned that day. He was always so lovely and such a great player. He was low-key, not flashy. Those were the days! When men were men and football was football. And Craven Cottage always had such a great atmosphere. It was all about the club; the fans, the players and Johnny - Fulham was Johnny and Johnny was Fulham."

For those of you who don't know much about #10 Johnny Haynes, Fulham's greatest inside left, or midfielder as they call them today, he began as a young seventeen year old and became their gallant captain and the captain of England. His career spanned from 1954-1970, when he left Fulham for South Africa for a while. My Dad was his supportive colleague at Fulham but the very opposite when it came to their international meetings. My Dad remembers the 1956 England versus Scotland game at Hampden, it was his very first international cap. "I scored the opening goal for Scotland," he says. "Then in the last 3 minutes of overtime Johnny tied it up for England! It was devastating for the Scottish fans and for me."


When we heard that Fulham fans want to erect a statue for Johnny at Craven Cottage we were all for it. This would be a fitting tribute to 'The Maestro'. So jump on the band wagon you Cottagers and lets help do it!! There's a link to Fulham F.C. on this site. Drop them a line in support of this wonderful project.


That day, almost three years ago, when I heard that Johnny Haynes had died, I wept and dug through my precious chest of football treasures for the silver beer stein that was given to my Dad then passed onto me. I filled it with a cold brew and drank to one of the greatest players ever - engraved on its front it says, With Thanks from Johnny Haynes 28-4-1969.

8 comments:

LBNo11 said...

...Alexandra, it was I who spoke to you Dad Graham and mum Marilyn about the statue to 'The Maestro'that we are trying to get raised at Craven Cottage. Your lovely comments I have printed and will show at our next meeting on Tuesday 26th Feb, I hope that 'Tosh' will attend too. I will keep you and your lovely family updated best I can, thank you for helping spread the word...

LBNo11

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BB@TiFF said...

Appreciate your great words about your dad and 'the Maestro'.... a timely remind of what Fulham was about.... Now all that is needed are two re-incarnations, to get us out of the mess FFC are embroiled in...

Come and visit us here...

The Independent Fulham Forum (TiFF)

http://www.voy.com/13865/

or find me here, I'm LOST!!!

www.lost.eu/50ca3

Anonymous said...

Alexandra. Lovely to read your blog. Your father was my hero when I was a young child and my dad used to take me down to the Cottage to watch Fulham in the 'sixties. He was a wonderful player, one of the Fulham all-time greats and my memories of him are still extremely vivid. Very best wishes to you and the rest of your family. Please tell your Dad that he is still thought of fondly by London football supporters.

Tony Watts

Nick said...

Alexandra, a fantastic piece! For those of us who wasn't around at that time or as myself only resides in the UK off and on I love to read stuff like this.

Well done!

Nick The Swede [FFC Sweden]

Anonymous said...

Wonderful stuff, my dear. So lovely to hear about Mr. Leggat, one of the most elegant players ever. A book on these matters would be superb! Cheers and good luck to you!

TOOFIF Dave said...

Hello Alexandra,
Lovely post - would you mind if I used it in the Fulham fanzine (There's Only One F in Fulham), please?
If it's a 'yes', I'll gladly send you a copy of the new issue.
Would you mind responding by email please. Thank you.
David

Anonymous said...

I have only just seen this; just about a week after seeing the statue unveiled! Many thanks for such a lovely piece Alexandra. I remember watching your dad with great pleasure. God bless you.