Foxes Flashback - Haydon Smith

Today marks the birthday for former-Leicestershire bowler Haydon Smith (29/3/1901).

For much of the 1930s, Haydon Smith was the fast-medium bowler who held the Leicestershire attack together. On five occasions, he took over 100 wickets in a season, and no other Leicestershire fast-bowler has come close to securing the 150 wickets he took in 1935.

Born in Groby on 29th March, 1901, the son of an engine driver, his youngest sister Ena was the mother of Terry Spencer, the only other fast-bowler to take more than his 1,076 wickets for the county.

His best bowling figures 12 for 69, were against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in 1938, one of three 12 wicket hauls against that county, which is probably why he chose them for his benefit match in 1939. Perhaps his most memorable achievement was his spell of 6 for 39 against Yorkshire in 1934 which brought the first victory over Yorkshire for 23 years.

He scored just one century, 100 not out against Worcestershire at Worcester in 1937, which included a 120-run partnership with W.E Astill in 105 minutes. He was also a safe catcher, taking 257 in his Leicestershire career.

On the occasion of his benefit match, the Leicester Daily Mercury described Smith as being ‘one of the most loyal and deservedly popular players who ever turned out for the Hunting Shire’, and remarkably, Leicestershire were the only first-class team he ever played for. His benefit, raised £600, extremely good considering that by September the country was at war, and in the context that the great George Geary had received just £10 from his 2nd benefit in 1936.

When the county was building a team to resume playing after World War II, Haydon Smith was one of the nine ‘first grade’ players that the county wanted to recruit. However, terms could not be agreed, he wanted £450 for the season when the going rate was £300, and so he became groundsman/coach at Ashby GS instead.

He died suddenly on 7th August 1948, aged only 47.