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Where are they now? Martin Hayes

Well you are in the right place.

As part of a regular feature, we take a look at what some ex-Swansea City favourites have done since leaving SA1.

This week we catch up with former Swans striker Martin Hayes.

 

Soon after signing for Swansea City from Celtic in January 1993, Martin Hayes endeared himself to the Jack Army by scoring the first of his 15 goals for the club against Cardiff City.

His strike happened to be an extra-time winner for the Swans in a 2-1 victory at Ninian Park in the Football League Trophy in January 1993.

“It was one of those opportunities I couldn’t really miss,” smiles Hayes as he thinks back to his derby winner.

“I think it was Andy Legg or Jason Bowen that had gone around the goalkeeper and they pulled it back across the goal. I was in the right place at the right time to tap it home.

“You are always conscious when you’re playing against your rivals how big a game it is, and that goal gave me something to build on at the start of my Swansea career.”

Hayes failed to score in his 12 league appearances for the Swans during the regular season in 1992-93.

But the striker did net the second goal in their 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion in the first leg of the Second Division play-off semi-final.

“We went on really good run of form in the second part of that season,” he recalls.

“There was a good atmosphere in the dressing room and no big egos in there.

“Frank Burrows was the manager at the time and he had a forward-thinking philosophy in terms of the way he wanted the game to be played.

“He was quite ahead of himself really, playing a different system of 4-3-3 while everyone else in British football was playing 4-4-2.

“Throughout that season, we dominated a lot of games. It’s just such a shame that we didn’t perform in the second leg at West Brom (which the Swans lost 2-0 to go down 3-2 on aggregate).

“We did well at home and perhaps we should have gone out in the second leg looking to be a bit more defensive.”

Hayes, who started his career at Arsenal and also turned out for the likes of Celtic, Coventry City, Wimbledon and Southend United, departed Vetch Field for Northern Irish side Cliftonville in August 1995.

He looks back on his time in SA1 with mixed emotions.

“The club, the players and the fans were fantastic, and I learnt a lot from Frank Burrows at Swansea that I was able to take into my future career as a manager,” says Hayes, who also won three caps for England at under-21 level.

“Unfortunately, I had a number of injuries while I was there that soured my experience.

“I had a fractured cheekbone and two hernias, and I missed out on playing in the Football League Trophy final in 1994 because of an injury, which was bitterly disappointing”.

Hayes retired as a professional in 1995 but carried on playing at non-league level for five years.

“That was when the reality dawned that I needed to get a proper job,” he remembers. “When I was still a non-league player, my first job was at a Ford dealership in North London, very close to Highbury.

“After that, I worked in commercial sales for Ford in Barking and Colchester.”

Hayes took his first football managerial role in 1999 at non-league Bishop’s Stortford, where he spent just under a decade.

The former striker also held managerial positions at Wingate & Finchley, Dover Athletic and Waltham Abbey, before becoming an area sales manager for Close Brothers Motor Finance in 2015.

“We can offer finance on a business-to-business level for anything that’s on wheels, be it cars, vans, trucks, tractors etc,” Hayes explains.

“My office is in Wimbledon but I’m largely field-based, working from home and covering Essex and Hertfordshire.

“It’s quite a demanding job but I really enjoy it. Close Brothers are a fantastic company to work for.

“Although you never say never, I think my work in football management and coaching is now at an end. I certainly couldn’t fit it around my current job.

“I still do a little bit of co-commentary for Arsenal, though, and that keeps my involvement in the game going.”

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