Exeter/Longford, Centre Half Back/Ruckman, 1954-66
- 210 games for Longford, 1956-66
- Longford captain/coach, 1961-64
- Longford NTFA premierships 1957, 1958
- Longford Best and Fairest 1958
- 11 representative matches for Tasmania, 1960-64
- Tasmanian National Carnival representative 1961 (Brisbane)
- Lefroy Medal, 1962 (Best Tasmanian player)
- Numerous representative games for NTFA
- W. Orchard Trophy, 1964 (Best NTFA representative player)
- Longford Team of the Century (Centre Half Back, Vice-Captain)
A powerful key position player and inspirational leader, Ivan Hayes was an integral player for Longford in the club’s golden era of the 1950s and 60s, playing in two premierships and six Grand Finals in the space of seven seasons.
Known to everyone as ‘Ike’, Hayes grew up in the northern Tasmanian town of Exeter, and began his football career with the local club. In 1954, he was a member of the Exeter side that defeated Bridgenorth to claim the West Tamar Football Association premiership, while also winning the award as the Association’s leading goal-kicker. Two years later, Hayes made the step up to NTFA football when he joined Longford, who had claimed their maiden NTFA premiership the previous season. Hayes quickly established himself as a key player in the great Tigers teams under legendary captain/coach Fred ‘Mulga’ Davies, playing in the club’s back to-back premiership triumphs in 1957-58. A tall strong man with a famously safe pair of hands, Hayes played primarily in the centre half back position, however he was also able to play in the ruck should the need arise. Such was his influence in the Longford teams of this era that in 1958 he was the only man to wrest the Longford Best and Fairest award away from the grasp of champion centreman John Fitzallen, who won the award five times between 1956 and 1961.
The halcyon days of Hayes’ career came in the early 1960’s. In 1960, he was selected for the first of his 11 interstate matches for Tasmania, and the following season was chosen in the Tasmanian squad for the National Carnival in Brisbane, acquitting himself admirably against some of the best big men in the country. Arguably his greatest achievement however came in 1962, when he was awarded the Lefroy Medal as Tasmania’s best player in interstate matches, following two stand-out performances in losses against Victoria and the VFA. He was also a regular member of NTFA combined teams, and was awarded the A. W. Orchard Trophy as the Association’s best representative player in 1964.
During this period, Hayes had taken over the role of captain/coach of Longford after the tragically early passing of ‘Mulga’ Davies at the age of 39. Hayes proceeded to guide the Tigers to the Grand Final in each of his first three years at the helm, though unfortunately they would emerge as the vanquished on each occasion. In the first of these matches in 1961, Hayes was a central figure in arguably the most controversial finish in NTFA history: with Longford in the lead by five points in the dying stages of the match, the ball was sent into North Launceston’s forward line. Hayes settled himself under the ball and appeared to have taken the match-saving mark, however his opposite number Bob Withers leapt over the top from behind, appeared to snatch the ball out of Hayes’ hands and claimed the mark. The umpire contentiously awarded the mark to Withers, from which he kicked a long goal which ultimately saw North Launceston victorious by one point, breaking Longford hearts. Hayes and Longford were again pipped by Withers and North Launceston two years later, this time by just two points.
After 210 games and a record as one of Longford’s greatest ever servants, Hayes retired at the end of the 1966 season. He has been honoured numerous times by the club in the following decades, including receiving life membership and being named in the club’s official Team of the Century, where he was named at Centre Half Back, as well as vice-captain.