Brimington Common, Chesterfield born centre forward Joe Payne started his football career with Bolsover Colliery in 1932 and was spotted and signed by Third Division Luton Town in June 1934, making his Football League debut at Southend United in December 1934, having been loaned to Biggleswade Town for a brief spell. Originally a wing half, due to injuries to other team members, Payne, who had played 4 games at wing half already earlier in the season, was played at centre forward on 13th April 1936 in a match against Bristol Rovers at Kenilworth Road, and scored 10 goals in a 12-0 Luton win, still a Football League record. Originally, Payne, was credited with nine goals, but after the match, the referee said that Luton’s sixth goal, which had been given to George Martin, belonged to Payne, as the ball was already over the line when Martin charged the goalkeeper.
He scored 3 goals in the remaining 4 matches of the season but had established himself as The Hatters’ first choice centre forward in the most sensational style. In 1936-37, Payne then terrorised Third Division defences, scoring an astonishing 58 goals in 43 appearances as Luton won the Third Division (South) Championship, including 4 goals against Cardiff City and Gillingham, and 5 other hat-tricks. He was called into England squad for their summer tour to Scandinavia, being a non playing reserve against Norway and Sweden before winning his only England cap in a 8-0 victory over Finland in Helsinki, a match in which Payne scored twice.
While 1938-39 was nowhere near as productive at the higher level, he still got 15 goals for Luton before he joined Chelsea in March 1938 for a large fee after 86 goals in 77 appearances. His career at Chelsea was severely interrupted by the Second World War, by when he had scored 23 goals in 43 appearances, and after the War he played in 5 more FA Cup ties in the 1946 competition before joining West Ham United in December 1946. He scored 6 goals in 11 appearances for The Hammers and joined Millwall in the 1947 close season, however he never made The Lions’ first team, joining non league Worcester City in 1948 where he finished his career.
A plaque commemorating Joe Payne is affixed to the outside of the Miner’s Arms public house in Brimington Common, adjacent to the site of the house, now demolished, where he used to live. A lounge at Kenilworth Road is also named in his honour.