Cork, Ireland born dual international right back Billy Hayes moved to England as a youth. He learnt the game playing junior football for St Vincent’s in the Sheffield area before signing amateur terms with Huddersfield in June 1932. The following April he was awarded a professional deal and he made his Football League debut against Derby County in August 1934, still just 18 years old.
Although it took him until 1937 to fully establish himself in The Terriers’ first eleven, by the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 Hayes was first choice right back and recognised penalty taker, and had already developed a reputation for being “as tough as they come”. He had also been capped by the Irish FA, stepping in as a replacement for the legendary Bertie Fulton (with Everton’s Billy Cook switching to Fulton’s left back role) for four internationals between October 1937, when he made his international debut in a defeat to England at Windsor Park, Belfast, and November 1938, playing twice against England and twice against Scotland,
During the War, Hayes initially remained in Yorkshire, playing in wartime football through the 1939-40 and 1940-41 campaigns. He then returned to his native Cork, and won Inter-League honours while playing with Cork United. He also helped the team to dominate the League of Ireland Championship and claim League of Ireland Shield and Munster Cup successes. He also played in two FAI Cup Finals, finishing runner-up on both occasions to Dundalk and Drumcondra in 1942 and 1943.
After the War, Hayes returned to Huddersfield Town, and was honoured by the FAI, winning caps at left back in a 1-0 defeat by England in September 1946 and a 2-0 defeat by Portugal in May 1947, both matches played at Dalymount Park. Ahead of the 1948-49 season Hayes retired, but was back playing again that September. He did eventually leave Leeds Road after fifteen war-interrupted years, all spent in the top flight of English football, having scored 5 goals in 198 appearances, joining Burnley in February 1950, but he made the last of just 12 appearances for The Clarets against Newcastle United in January 1951 before retirement.
Also a gifted golfer, Hayes is recorded as having won the Professional Footballers’ Golf Championship in 1949, having been the runner-up the previous year.