Keeping up with the Joneses

Posted by nige on January 11, 2004, 04:19:34 AM

Call me strange, but  to my mind Paul  Jones is one  of  the most exciting signings Liverpool FC have made for many years. Don't get me wrong, I hope he's only with us for a few weeks,  because I wish Jerzy and Chris, two World Class keepers, speedy recoveries and returns to first team action.

But Paul's signing is that all-too-rare occurrence, a really inspiring Roy of the Rovers story. There he is, making his debut for the team he loved as a boy and has always followed affectionately, at the age of 36 years .... and three quarters!! I wonder if Liverpool FC have ever had an older debutant?  In the war years, perhaps, when they'd take any old pro who happened to be passing through Liverpool - but that doesn't count! (Editor's note: only one other player has been an older debutant for the Reds - Ted Doig, another keeper, at the age of 37 years 10 months back in 1904)

What's more, this story has happened like the best Boys' Own stories, out of the blue, a final chance for a dream come true, due to a freak series  of events which could not have been predicted even  24 hours before Paul's arrival at Mellwood on Thursday. Great stuff. He was about to sign a longer contract, doubtless more lucrative, with another premiership club when the call came. Or at least that's how he told it on Friday when he signed, but I wonder whether in fact it was Jones who made the first contact with Liverpool, through his agent, as soon as the extent of  Dudek's injury became apparent? Personally I'd like to think so.

I guess Paul's story appeals to me because these days I myself get more and more injuries each season and wonder whether each season, each month, each Sunday of amateur football might be my last .... though I must admit  that I also have a cunning plan to become a brilliant cat-like keeper in my  mid-forties and carry on playing till I'm grey and wrinkly ...

So anyway, wasn't it brilliant that Jones got a great reception from the Kop, communicated well with his defenders (burning Igor's eardrums - deservedly - a few times), commanded his box and made a couple of fine saves ... and kept a very encouraging first clean sheet on his debut... because let's face it, the omens for that weren't great. Let's not forget that Jerzy's debut, which happened almost as suddenly as Jones', was against Villa at  Anfield too, and that Jerzy  conceded 3 on a disastrous day for the Redmen. Another omen you might not be aware of was  that  Paul isn't the first Jones to keep goal for Liverpool! In 1923-4, John Jones made 4 appearances as understudy for the injured Anfield  legend, the great Elisha Scott ... and although in the last of those games he did keep his first clean sheet, he obviously did not  impress enough to stop Liverpool signing South African Arthur Riley  shortly afterwards.

Paul Jones impressed me a lot today, as he has done in the past at Anfield for Southampton before Niemi became Strachan's number one choice. By the way, did you realise that Jones kept a clean sheet for Southampton on 5 of his 9 first team appearances early this season?

But of course  for a trivia-obsessed statto like me, there is another reason why Paul's signing pleases me so much. Indeed, I hope it would please him too, as a Red, to know that according to my research, Paul is the 11th "Jones" in Liverpool's  112 years  to pull on  the Red first team shirt, and thus the "Jones" surname is the first one which has  fielded a  full "team" for Liverpool (according to my research, the "Smith" team, for example, can only field 6 former Reds. These figures, by the way, include only  non-wartime competitive matches, and do include players who have made only substitute appearances for the first team ).

So come on - can you name any of the other Liverpool Joneses, apart from Rob ( right back, 214 appearances and 0 goals 1991-98)  and Joey ( left back, 97 appearances 1975-78  and 3 goals) ??

Some of you who know your LFC history will be well aware that Rob Jones's grandfather Bill Jones was a Liverpool stalwart of the Liddell & Paisley era (278 appearances, 17 goals). Indeed this Jones  famously kept Paisley out of the 1950 Cup Final side, and was, according to Liddell "one of the best utility players I have ever played with, happy to play anywhere on the field [apart from keeper] as long as he got a game". Later on Bill Jones helped  Jeff Twentyman & Shanks discover new Red talent as a scout in the 60s and 70s.

Let's hope that Paul does as well  as  these first 3 Jones Reds in his albeit brief career with us! But  with help from Brian Pead's "Liverpool, a Complete Record", from the Liverweb website, and from my programme collection, here are the other seven less distinguished Jones-the-Reds  that you may not be aware of :

1. Alan Jones (1 appearance in 1959 & 4 in 1963).  Many of you will be familiar with the story of  Shanks' arrival at Anfield. Like many astute new managers before and since, he sensibly did not pick the team the first week, but watched and assessed the team he had inherited. Most of the players who lost 4-0 at home to Cardiff that day were soon  on their way out of Anfield, but young Alan Jones, roasted on his debut by the Cardiff left winger , was kept  to develop in the reserves. He reappeared 3 years  later as a replacement for  the injured Gerry Byrne in for 4 games at the end of  Liverpool's  1st  season back in the top flight ... and again was roasted, time after time (including humiliation at the hands of Jimmy Greaves, who scored 4  in a 7-2 roasting at White Hart Lane whilst Liverpool's minds were on the next week's FA Cup semi-final). He was soon on his way, spending the rest of the decade at Brentford.
2. Barry  Jones - played twice as a sub for the Reds in Europe during the 1991-92 UEFA Cup campaign.

3. Harold Jones- made a single appearance for the Reds during the 1953-54 season which the Reds lost 5-

4. John Jones - as mentioned above, he played just four times for the Reds in the 1924-25 season in place of Elisha Scott.

5.  Lee Jones - Signed by Graeme Souness in 1994 he was a pacy striker with potential. however after a long time in the reserves he never really made the grade and appeared only as a sub on four occasions. He was finally sold to Tranmere in 1997.

6. Mervyn Jones - signed from Bangor in November 1951 he went on to make just five appearances for the Reds over the next two season but never scored.

7.  Ron Jones - signed from Wrexham in March 1938 he managed just five appearances for the Reds and scored one goal.  Even before the war broke out he was only a reserve player.

So that's a full eleven of LFC Joneses, even if 2 of them are goalkeepers!! One thing I can't tell you, I'm afraid, is how many caps they have for Wales between them, but I do know Rob Jones got  8  for England  and Paul has 31 for Wales, despite being English! And I can also tell you that the Smiths may have scored more Liverpool goals between them (Tommy Smith alone scored more than all the 11 Joneses put together, as did Jimmy Smith in the 30s), but a few of the Joneses sure know how to keep them out.

According to one of the most famous football banners of all time, Joey Jones ate the frogs' legs & munched Gladbach  in 1977 ....  but I tell you what Paul Jones will bite Igor's ears off if  he doesn't mark up tightly  in 2004!!

And by the way, isn't it funny that just weeks after hearing that the Pope is a friend of Jerzy's, he gets injured, and the Saints help us out?

(c)  Nigel Shaw  2004

View Comments | Post Comment