Royston, Yorkshire born outside left Sam Haden joined Midland League club Castleford Town in 1921 and from there was signed by First Division club Arsenal in the 1923 close season, making his Football League debut at West Ham United that August. He played for The Gunners under both Leslie Knighton and Herbert Chapman, and was a regular in his first season and then from February 1925. However on 3rd February 1926 Haden broke his leg in the home match with Burnley at Highbury which Arsenal lost 2-1. Haden was out of the team for the season.
Haden returned to action the following season but lost his place by the start of the 1927-28 season and was sold to Second Division Notts County for £1,350 in October 1927 after 11 goals in 93 appearances for The Gunners. He spent ten seasons at Meadow Lane missing very occasional matches for the first six of them, when he was an ever present in 1928-29, which saw The Magpies relegated in 1930 but promoted immediately as Third Division (South) Champions in 1931, with Haden scoring 4 goals in 39 League games that season. The following two seasons he missed just one match per season.
He played his last match of 301 for The Magpies, having scored 38 goals, in September 1937 before he joined Midland League club Peterborough United at the end of the season. He then spent ten years as manager of Peterborough United between 1938 and 1948, remaining their manager throughout the Second World War, winning the Midland League with them in 1939-40.