Haywards Sports

The firm of Haywards Brothers were a well established firm in the Borough district of South London dating back to 1783. They started by producing glassware before expanding into iron goods, such as coal hole covers and spiral staircases, but were best known for the invention of prismatic pavement lights in 1871. Seeking a new location with better access to the North, they moved into the Borough of Enfield in 1920 and built a new factory in Lincoln Road. The company were interested in the welfare of their staff away from the work environment and in addition to constructing the buildings, the adjoining area was laid out into what was described as “one of the most beautiful sports grounds in the district”. The facilities were initially used by Bush Hill Park F.C. who played home matches here for eighteen months from late 1921, but after they moved into a ground of their own, and having noticed a group of employees amongst the 500 strong workforce taking part in impromptu lunch hour games, the decision was made to form a works team called Haywards Sports.

 

From humble beginnings of little more than an iron shed, within twelve months the club had paid off a loan made by the company, transformed the shed into a comfortable club room and had money in hand for future improvements.  A canvas screen was erected on the Lincoln Road side of the pitch prior to each match to prevent a free spectacle for onlookers and duckboards encircled the pitch, which was bounded by a wire fence.

 

The club was entered into the Tottenham & District League Division 1 for the 1924-25 season where they finished third, a feat they repeated the following year. In 1926 they joined the Northern Suburban Intermediate League, finishing runners up in their only season in the league. The Waltham Hospital Cup was won and they were runners-up in the Tottenham Charity Cup.

 

In 1927 the club were elevated to the ranks of senior football when they joined the Spartan League. Their facilities were upgraded when a 120 seat stand was erected on site, the structure having been made in the company’s own workshops. It was opened for the match against Colney Hatch Mental Hospital on 26th February 1927. The club were also able to participate in the F.A.and Amateur Cups for the first time, though the club never progressed beyond the early qualifying rounds of either competition. After two seasons consolidating their position at the higher standard of football, they won the Division 1 title in 1930, scoring 105 goals and gaining 46 out of a possible 52 points, and earning promotion to the Premier Division. They also reached the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup where they managed to draw 2-2 with Wealdstone before losing 3-1 in a replay. In what proved to be their final season in amateur football, they went one step further and won the Spartan League Premier Division title, this time amassing 44 points (out of 52) and registering 130 goals. The record attendance of 2,000 was set on 23rd April 1931 when a team from Tottenham Hotspur met a local amateur select XI in aid of a Haywards’ player, Charlie Briggs, who had been badly injured in a match earlier in the season.

 

Towards the end of the 1930’s, Haywards had been chosen to act as a “nursery” club for Tottenham Hotspur. This enabled Spurs to place any promising youngster with Haywards where they could play football of a reasonable standard until such time as they were taken onto the staff as a professional or released for not making the grade. It also provided the opportunity for the young players to learn a trade at the works in case they failed to make a career in professional football. Haywards now had an influx of very promising young footballers at their disposal. Several future Tottenham players spent time at Haywards, including Fred Channell and Ernie Phypers while Willie Evans, Bill Whatley, Alf Day and Wally Alsford not only played for Spurs, but also gained full international honours, the first three for Wales while Alsford was selected for England. The introduction of some of the finest young talent in the British Isles was largely responsible for the club’s rapid rise through the amateur ranks.

 

At the height of the club’s powers, the story comes to an end. The company sold off some land fronting onto Lincoln Road for housing and included in this area was part of the football ground. The intention was that the club would continue at a different venue, playing friendly matches in the meantime, but with no suitable alternatives on the horizon, the club was forced to close down and the players dispersed to various local amateur teams or back to Tottenham from where they were sent out to one of their other nursery clubs.

 

The company continued producing metal goods, with part of the factory requisitioned by the Air Ministry during the Second World War for aircraft production, as well as constructing Bailey Bridges and parts for the Mulberry Harbour. The factory was handed back to Hayward Brothers after the war but with the increased use of electric lighting and gas central heating, demand for company’s products was declining and the Enfield works eventually closed in the 1970’s.