Looking Back At: Alan Jones

Alan Jones

Date of birth: 21.1.51

Born: Grimethorpe, Yorkshire, Height: 5ft 6in

Position: Right-winger

City appearances: League: 26, goals: 4, FA Cup: 1, Total: 27, goals: 4


Alan Jones began his footballing career as an apprentice with second tier side Huddersfield Town, becoming a professional player in December 1968. With Huddersfield having won the Second Division championship in 1970 his first team debut came in September that year at the age of 19 in a First Division game against West Ham United playing alongside later Imps player Dick Krzywicki. Jones had got his chance due to regular right back Dennis Clarke having to move into central defence to cover for the injured Trevor Cherry. After a run of six games Cherry returned, and it was back to the reserves for Jones until two games deputising for Clarke later in the season. He then finished the season with a few games at left back in place of the injured Geoff Hutt for a total of 12 appearances in the First Division.

The following season saw Huddersfield relegated from the top division, with Jones again occasionally deputising for others but also having his longest run in the first team with eight games in midfield. His total for the season was 11 starts in league and FA Cup games with three substitute appearances.

The 1972/73 season saw Huddersfield suffer further relegation to the third tier as Jones started the season at right back before again being supplanted by Clarke after five games. He continued as a reserve player with only rare first team outings for a total of eight appearances in the season.

After a total of 34 league and cup appearances for Huddersfield Jones was then sold to fellow Third Division side Halifax Town in the summer of 1973 for a fee of £4,500.

He now began to feature as a winger, playing regularly in the first half of the season as Halifax went on to finish one place above Huddersfield. In all, he appeared in a total of 28 league and cup games, scoring four goals.

In the 1974/75 season, Jones missed only one league game as the Shaymen finished in the lower half of the Third Division table, scoring two goals. He also appeared in four cup games, scoring both goals in a 2-1 First Round FA Cup win at Barnsley.

Halifax’s seven-year stay in the third tier then came to an end as they finished 24th in the Third Division at the end of the 1975/76 season. Jones appeared in 36 league games without scoring, plus a total of five cup games, again without scoring.

After five Fourth Division and three League Cup games for Halifax at the start of the 1976/77 season Jones was then transferred to Third Division Chesterfield for a fee of £9,000. He made his debut in a 4-1 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday, scoring Chesterfield’s goal, and his first home game a week later saw a repeat of the score-line with his 35-yard strike being the best goal of the game as Lincoln City were the club to make it successive 4-1 defeats for the Spireites.

Jones made a total of 32 appearances for Chesterfield in the remainder of the season, scoring five goals with three of them having come in his first four games. His form at one time was said to be attracting the attention of scouts from West Ham and Newcastle.

Jones started the 1977/78 season as first choice for Chesterfield including scoring in the first two league games of the season but was then in and out of the side from the end of September and was placed on the transfer list by manager Arthur Cox. Meanwhile, after the departure of Graham Taylor as manager Lincoln City had made a poor start to the season under his successor George Kerr and were currently in the relegation zone. One of the contributing reasons for this was the lack of an out-and-out striker to replace the injury-hit John Ward, and there had been reports of several players being targeted as a much-needed replacement. However, instead of a big centre forward what we got was a 5ft 6ins winger as Alan Jones was bought from Chesterfield for the large-ish fee for the time of £11,500. While this was fine in itself – “I feel Jones is what we need on the right flank”, said Kerr – it didn’t solve the striking problem.

At any rate, after 15 league and cup appearances and two goals in the season so far for Chesterfield Jones went straight into the City side in place of John Fleming for the visit of Chester. As with his previous club he marked his debut with a goal in what proved to be City’s last win during George Kerr’s first spell as manager, heading in a cross from Phil Neale for what the player admitted was only the second or third goal he had ever scored with his head. His next game was not such a pleasant one as City went down to an ignominious 5-0 away defeat to a Ron Atkinson-managed Cambridge United side.

Jones’s next four games produced two draws and two defeats including an FA Cup exit at Preston and with the Imps third from bottom manager George Kerr found himself out of a job. His replacement, Willie Bell, was perhaps influenced by interim manager Bert Loxley’s team selection for a friendly match at Scunthorpe. Loxley had included all the players remaining at the club from the championship season of two years before which meant the return of Fleming wide on the right.

Jones returned to the side after three games when Alan Harding got injured and retained his place to the exclusion of Fleming when Harding returned one match later. He then had his longest run in the side of 18 games, scoring for two games in a row in mid-February, including the only goal of the game against Portsmouth at Sincil Bank. His best moment in an Imps shirt came against Sheffield Wednesday when, with City hanging on to a 2-1 lead and reduced to ten men he hit a spectacular 35-yard volley into the net to seal the win as City pulled away from the danger of relegation.

The run of games came to an end for Jones when he was injured in a game at Hereford at the beginning of April and his place was filled by an up-and-coming winger called Gordon Hobson. The 20-year-old made such an impression on his debut that he retained his place ahead of Jones for the remaining four games of the season. Jones made a total of 23 league and cup appearances in the season for the Imps, scoring four goals.

A hamstring problem kept Jones out of the first team picture at the start of the 1978/79 season and he then aggravated the injury in a reserve match. It was early October before the problem cleared up sufficiently for him to make a comeback in the reserves with meanwhile City having made a dreadful start to the season which saw them rooted to the foot of the Third Division. In fact, a run of just one win in 17 games led shortly afterwards to the sacking of Willie Bell as manager. Jones made his return to the side in the team chosen by caretaker manager Jim McCalliog against Mansfield at the beginning of November, replacing Gordon Hobson. The 1-0 defeat proved to be his last start for the club as new boss Colin Murphy immediately restored Hobson to the side, predicting a great future for the 20-year-old. Jones then was confined to the reserves apart from being named as substitute on a couple of occasions, coming off the bench both times. The second of these was a 6-0 defeat at Swindon which turned out to be his last game in a City shirt.

There was a chance that Jones would move to Fourth Division Scunthorpe United for a fee of £5,000 just prior to the transfer deadline at the end of March but he was unable to agree terms with them. Murphy then succeed in moving him off the books a few weeks later when he left for America to play for Columbus Magic. Accompanying Jones to Ohio was Imps team-mate Phil Hubbard, but although Hubbard returned briefly to Sincil Bank in the autumn Jones did not, instead signing for Fourth Division Bradford City.

He made intermittent appearances for the Valley Parade club until the last two months of the season when after initially deputising for regular right back Cec Podd he played in 13 of the last 14 games of the season as Bradford finished fifth to miss out on promotion on goal difference.

After appearing in a total of 20 league and cup games and scoring one goal in the 1979/80 season for Bradford, Jones, despite playing a part in their end of season fight for promotion which included a run of five wins in seven games was given a free transfer and moved on to Rochdale who had just finished bottom of the league.

Ironically, despite reverting to the full back role of earlier in his career Jones equalled his season’s best goal tally of six, including scoring from the penalty spot in an FA Cup defeat at Mansfield. In all, he appeared in 47 league and cup games throughout the 1980/81 season including a few as substitute. However, this proved to be his last season with a Football League club as at the age of 30 he was then released by Rochdale.

Alan Jones made a total of 269 appearances in the Football League, scoring 22 goals.