Football has been lifelong love for record breaker Lee
THERE can't be many brides who would allow a football to be brought to their wedding.
And there are fewer still who would enjoy a keepy-uppy session with their newly-wedded husband just 30 minutes after you've said 'I do'.
But for Lee Hayward it was a perfectly normal thing to do, admitting it had been a 'joint decision' with her husband Barry to take the football along to their special day.
So with that in mind it is no surprise that, in the 2011-12 season of the Devon Women's League, Lee created her own unique piece of history.
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In the dying embers of Brixham Villa Ladies' final league match at home to Seaton Town – while comfortably winning 3-0 – Hayward came on as a substitute.
In doing so, she featured in the 16th successive season of the DWL since its creation, becoming the only player to feature in each and every season of the competition.
And for Lee it could've been even more special.
"They put me up front where I could do the least amount of damage," she says, laughing.
"I took a couple of throw-ins and almost scored a goal – which would've been really funny actually, as the only goals I score are own goals."
Lee is 57-years-old – or '23 in my 34th year' as she likes to see it – and has played football for more than two thirds of her life.
It all began back in 1966 with a certain tournament held in the summer of that year that sparked her involvement in the sport.
"I suppose the World Cup when it was in England. I was 11 at the time and I hated football.
"And then there was really naff all else to watch on the telly and that's where I got to thinking 'actually I quite like this game'," she says.
At the time, playing football was virtually impossible for women, with no team's or leagues in Devon.
So aged 20, Lee had to settle with refereeing, which she describes as 'a joke that got out of hand'.
"There was a thing that came round the office at work, I was working at the town hall at the time, and it was an evening class at the South Devon tech when it was at Torquay to qualify as a referee," she says.
"There were two or three of us that were like 'ha ha, yeah we will do that' – and I was the only idiot who rocked up at the first lesson.
"So I thought 'well, while I'm here I'll qualify' – and I did.
"But I wasn't allowed to ref any of the men's matches because it was before the Equal Opportunities Act. So as soon as that came into being they had to let me. So I did the grand total of three South Devon league games."
The premature end to her new found career was that in 1976, the first-ever women's league was to be set up, which Lee had a hand in.
"There was a guy called Dave Denley who lived in Tiverton and he needed a few people to help him (set up the league) and he also wanted teams.
"There was a small band of us who almost knew what we were doing and we were very keen.
"So we helped set up a team from scratch which we knew nothing about with no experience."
Her newly created Torbay United side was Lee's first team, and playing across the back four, it was where she found the most success, winning league and cup doubles regularly from the mid- to late seventies, as well as reaching the fourth round of the Women's FA Cup during that time.
"We lost to Walburton. And they had the England centre-forward in the team at the time.
"But she didn't score that day – I remember that much.
"They beat us 3-0 or 4-0 something like that, it was quite decisive, but to get that far was absolutely brilliant."
There is no surprise that Lee acknowledges that was the best team she has played in, saying it was 'the most skilful team and that 'the sum total was far better than the individuals'.
From then on Hayward has never wavered from women's football in the county playing for as many club's as she has featured in positions on the field.
When the current women's league was created in 1996, Lee was with Exeter Rangers.
Since then, in the 16 years the league has been around, her teams have included Stoke Gabriel Ladies (1997-2000), Paignton Town (2000-2001), Galmpton United Ladies (2001-2008) and her current team Brixham Villa.
Over the last four years, Lee has struggled to play due to hip problems, the final straw being when she slid down a slope at White Rock 18 months ago, severely injuring her hip which had to be replaced.
It's something she is comfortable to make light of, saying her hearing, her sight and her memory are also going, and that she only remembers the year of her marriage as it coincides with the year that Norwich City won the League Cup: 1985.
Yet she is convinced she will be ready for action come August.
"Yeah I'm hoping to [be available next season] – I think they are trying to leave me behind I am pushing pensioner status," says Hayward.
"But I still want to be playing because that's my ambition to collect my pension and play football."
But Lee adds that longevity is something which runs in the family.
"I'm lucky with my genes I suppose, because my mum is 93 and she's living on her own," says Lee.
"I think I am my mum in a lot of ways so I'm hopeful that I can keep going. But I don't think I want to be playing football when I'm 93 – I don't think it will actually be possible."
And life after her playing career draws to a close?
"I'll just be there on the touch line with the bucket and washing the kit.
"Actually we don't even have a bucket anymore, you're not allowed due to health and safety," she jokes.
"Or I'll probably still be watching from a far thinking 'darn it I wish I was playing'.
"But I've enjoyed it and I hope that I can continue to enjoy it."