Skip to main content

England 6, Switzerland 0 – an epic game of football with the help of a man from Wickhamford

Confused by the score?  If you were glued to the television on Saturday evening watching the tense game between England and Switzerland in the 2024 the UEFA European Football Championship, you may be thinking this score was a mistake – and how come a man from Wickhamford was a part of the team.  But no, this article is not about that game!  Instead, this is a tale of a match which took place between England and Switzerland 76 years ago and it was Jack Haines of Wickhamford who scored two of the six goals.  Here is his story.

* * * * *

Jack HainesJohn Thomas William Haines, known as Jack, was born at Wickhamford in 1920, the third child of Norris Haines (who worked for the Lees-Milne family at Wickhamford Manor) and his wife, Florence.  A detailed article about Jack’s early life and career may be found in the article by Tom Locke, Jack Haines, England football player.

Jack had turned to professional football in 1937 and was playing for West Bromwich Albion for the 1948-49 season, when he learned that he was to be capped for England and was to play against Switzerland at Highbury on 1st December 1948.  According to an article in The Evesham Standard of 27th November 1948:

No one was more surprised than Haines himself when he stepped off the train at Bradford with his team mates last Friday night and read in a newspaper that he had been selected.  “I wonder what my village team at Wickhamford will have to say about this?” was one of his first comments.

The Mayor of Evesham, Councillor F J Masters, promptly sent the following telegram to Jack:

Hearty congratulations on your selection or the England team against Switzerland from the inhabitants of the Borough of Evesham.

Another telegram was despatched to Jack from his native village which read:

Hearty congratulations, Wickhamford Football Club.

Although his selection seems to have occasioned some surprise, it was known that Walter Winterbottom, the England team manager, was impressed by the recent form shown by Haines in club matches.

* * * * *

The Match

Jack Haines. along with four other new-comers, lined up alongside famous England names, such as Stanley Matthews, Alf Ramsey, Billy Wright and Jackie Milburn.

Jack Haines
A page from the England versus Switzerland match with the signatures of the England team, including Haines at inside left.

The match at Highbury on Wednesday 1st December was reported in newspapers throughout the country.  Jack Haines acquitted himself well, scoring goals in the 5th and 26th minutes of the game.  The following is a selection of comments about his performance:

Haines made a wonderful start to his international career by heading the first English goal after five minutes from a centre by Milburn.  In 24 minutes Hancocks gets the second from Matthews’ pass, and two minutes later Haines headed the third from Hancocks’ corner kick.  
[Irish Independent, 3rd December 1948]

The curious, oblique Swiss defensive formation puzzled England’s forwards for exactly five minutes.  Then new boy Haines, playing in his first International game, headed a Milburn cross past Corrodi and the barrier began to sway and finally crumble.  That first blow was vital …  By half-time, England had three tucked in the bag.  Hancocks, another first-timer, whipped in a crashing right-foot volley from a Matthews pass.  This was at 25 minutes.  Before the 26th minute had ticked off, Haines headed No 3 from Hancock’s corner-kick.
[Daily Herald, 3rd December 1948]

The scratch, experimental England side, for whom the critics had their excuses ready, cantered home to an easy 6-0 victory at Highbury yesterday over Switzerland, their sole post-war conquerors among Continental sides.  Of the six goals, four came from the new left wing of Haines and Hancocks and the equally untried defence came through with a well-deserved clean slate.  So well did the five new caps blend with the old-stagers, in fact, that the score might easily have reached double figures, and the only difficulty facing the selectors is who to leave out when Scott, Mortensen and Finney are fit.  With their wing halves marking our wingers, the Swiss defensive scheme allowed England’s inside pair yards of room to collect and deliver the loose ball and Rowley and Haines, both newcomers, responded by opening out the game in fine style…..  When, within four minutes, Ramsay had headed off the line, the crowd had been given no warning of the superiority that England were soon to assert.  Then two minutes later Milburn took advantage of the failure of a Swiss defender to clear promptly and Haines headed No 1.  Bewildered by the frequent Milburn-Rowley switches, the Swiss conceded two more goals in 25 and 27 minutes, Hancocks hitting home a terrific drive from a Matthews centre, and Haines easily nodding in a perfectly-taken corner kick by the left-winger.
[Nottingham Journal, 3rd December 1948]

The Evesham Standard, on 4th December 1948, also had a brief report of Jack Haines’ success in the match:

Well Done, Haines!

Jack Haines, the former Evesham Town and Wickhamford footballer, exceeded all expectations by scoring two of England’s six goals against Switzerland at Arsenal Stadium on Thursday.  He headed England’s first goal in the fifth minute and was on the target with another header for his side’s third goal.

It appears, however, that Jack sustained a knee injury, as a report in The Nottingham Journal of 4th December 1948 reveals that he was unable to play in a forthcoming match for West Bromwich Albion at Barnsley.  He was back in business the following week, however, and was able to play in a match against Grimsby Town.

But this was Jack’s one and only time to play for England.  He continued to play professional football for a number of years after this before ultimately retiring to Wickhamford, where he died in 1987, aged 66.

Maureen Spinks, July 2024

See also

Jack Haines, England football player
Jack Haines of Wickhamford capped for England