Remembering the Town's famous goalscoring striker
One hundred years ago today, in the small civil parish of Brimington, near Chesterfield, Joseph Payne was born.
Spotted playing as a centre forward for Bolsover Colliery, Payne signed for the Town in 1934 and made his debut in defence in a 3-3 draw at Southend on 29th December that year. He only made one more appearance that season, in a 3-1 home win over Torquay in 9th February.
The following season, 1936/37, saw Payne start four games in the number four shirt but, after appearing in a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace on 21st September, it wasn’t until early April that he was seen in Luton colours again.
That certain day was 13th April 1936 – a day that would go down in football history, for Payne – playing his first game at centre-forward – scored 10 goals in a 12-0 demolition of Bristol Rovers at Kenilworth Road. It’s a record that still stands today – the most goals scored in a Football League match by a single player.
Payne finished the season scoring a further three goals in the last four games. He finished the club’s top scorer with 13 goals, despite playing just five games as a striker.
With Payne at the top of the Town attack, the team swept all before them the following season as they ran away with the Division 3 (South) title. Payne was at his goalscoring best, scoring a club record 55 goals in 39 league games. In total, Payne scored 58 goals in all competitions. He was called up to the England squad in 1937 and scored twice on his only appearance for the Three Lions in an 8-0 win over Finland.
At the start of the 1937/38 season, and now in Division 2, Payne scored 15 goals in 22 matches and his goalscoring talents had alerted the attentions of bigger clubs. Chelsea snapped him up in 1938. His final game for the Town came in a goalless draw at West Ham on 5th March 1938.
He hit 21 goals in 36 games at Stamford Bridge, but his career was interrupted by the Second World War. In 1946 he spent a short spell at West Ham before retiring.
A plaque commemorating the striker, who died on 22nd April 1975, aged 61, 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. The plaque, dated 2005, was unveiled by Geoff Thompson, the then president of the Football Association, on 13th April 2006, the 70th anniversary of Joe's achievement, attended by two of Joe's nephews.