One of the veterans on the umpire circuit, Kennedy has umpired five AFL Grand Finals since debuting in the late 1980s.
Kennedy was a very promising junior footballer with St Christophers Football Club in the Oak Park Junior Football League, a club which also produced AFL legends Simon and Justin Madden. Kennedy completed his secondary schooling at St Bernard's College Essendon where he now currently teaches as a Physical Education teacher.
In the 1995 AFL season, Kennedy umpired in all 21 weeks of Home and Away games, and a further 4 weeks of finals. He was the first umpire to achieve this in 38 years, and the 11th field umpire to do so.
He umpired his first AFL Grand Final in 1995. The game, involving Carlton and Geelong, was shared with boundary umpire Allan Cook. Both Kennedy and Cook had been field umpires together on the cadet squad at the beginnings of their careers and both reached the pinnacle of achievement on the same day having followed very different paths.
Kennedy continued his dominance at the top of the AFL umpiring ranks, umpiring Grand Finals in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003 as well as taking part in every finals series. Kennedy has also obtained many other prestige appointments and honours including three State of Origin appointments and being named All Australian Umpire in 1997. He attained Life Membership of the AFL Umpires’ Association in 1993.
After reaching the milestone of 300 games in 2002, he qualified for a life membership with the AFL. At that stage he had umpired 294 premiership season games, as well as 22 pre-season matches and 3 State of Origin games.
In 2006 he umpired the controversial match between St. Kilda and Fremantle, along with Matthew Nicholls and Michael Vozzo. He umpired his 400th match on June 8, 2007 between Essendon versus West Coast at Telstra Dome. and was quickly catching Rowan Sawers in the umpiring record books.
He finally surpassed his former colleague on September 8, 2007 when he umpired in the first elimination final between Hawthorn and Adelaide at the Telstra Dome to break the 410 game record held by Sawers.
Hayden is married to wife Maree and resides in Essendon with their 3 children.