Wayne Jones – Rovers Great
February 6, 2006
Wayne Jones career consisted of 255 games and 36 goals, more games than Bruce Bannister, Alan Warboys or Brian Godfrey played for the club and yet his career will always be remembered for unfulfilled potential. There is no doubt that he possessed skill and application in abundance but injury cut short his career just as it appeared that the future was his.
A product of Rovers prolific South Wales nursery, the baby faced 18 year-old made his first team debut on 25th February in a 4-2 victory over Doncaster Rovers. Having secured his place Wayne went on to record 7 more appearances that season and scored in the last game at Watford’s Vicarage Road. It was a dreadfully disappointing finish for Rovers who had made strong claims for promotion but just two victories in the last thirteen games meant that they missed out.
The following season Wayne made a total of 47 appearances and scored five more goals, but it was to be the 1968/69 season that wrote Wayne Jones’ name into GasHeads memories. Fred Ford had taken over the position of club Manager from Bert Tann at the end of the previous season and Ford was a strong advocate of youth. Other youngsters to establish themselves in the team that season were; Larry Lloyd, Stuart Taylor, Peter Higgins, Bobby Brown, Tommy Stanton and Laurie Taylor.
Whilst Rovers League form was nothing to shout about they advanced to the 5th Round of the FA Cup where they went out 1-0 to Everton at Goodison Park. But it was the 4th Round game where Wayne made his impact. With Rovers losing 1-0 at Burndon Park to a Gareth Williams goal for Second Division Bolton, Lindsay Parsons suffered a second half injury, which resulted in his substitution.
Rovers winger Bobby Jones dropped back to fill Parson’s role and substitute Wayne Jones joined the attack. Amazingly he scored twice to win the tie for Rovers. It was to spawn the inaccurate headline in the Bolton Sports paper “Sub stars as Rovers Wynn”. Pity his forename wasn’t the same as former Bolton hero Wynn Davies. Amazingly they were the last FA Cup goals that Wayne was to score. He finished the season with a total of 8 goals, his best ever tally.
[banner2] When Fred Ford left Rovers on the eve of the following season little did they realise that under new Boss Bill Dodgin they were to enjoy some of the best matches ever seen at Eastville and some of the attacking football for which Rovers were to become well known. Rovers finished the season in third place four points behind second placed Luton Town. Just one win in the last six games cost Rovers dearly that season where young Wayne Jones played 43 times and scored 5 goals. By this time he was making regular appearances in the Wales Under 23 side.
For the 1970/71 season Rovers harboured realistic hopes of a top two finish. Once more Wayne Jones scored 5 goals but this time it was from a ‘mere’ 34 appearances. Despite a strong start to the season a run of eight games without a victory in January and February left Rovers with too much to do. However glory for Rovers was to come in the unlikely form of the League Cup. With Don Megson adding steel to the midfield Rovers were to go on to a run, which took them to a Quarter-Final replay defeat at Villa Park. On the way they disposed of Newcastle, Norwich and Birmingham.
It was at the culmination of the season that Wayne was to earn a cherished full international cap as he represented his country in a 1-0 European Championship victory over Finland in Helsinki.
The 1971/72 season was a case of same again for Rovers as once more they finished 6th and reached the Quarter Finals of the League Cup. Wayne Jones played a remarkable 55 games and added a further six goals to his tally including a League Cup goal against a strong Sunderland side.
As Don Megson took over the Managership of Rovers from Bill Dodgin for the 1972/73 season there was the expectation that Rovers may become a little less cavalier in their approach and add a little defensive nous to their game.
The 1972/73 season was to be the last of Wayne Jones’ short but illustrious career. The season started brilliantly for Rovers as they won the Watney Cup winning 7-6 on penalties (with the first unsuccessful penalty costing First Division Sheffield United the game). During the early part of that season Wayne played in one of Rovers greatest ever victories, a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in a League Cup replay against a Manchester United team that contained nine full internationals including Bobby Charlton and George Best.
It was to be a fateful day on 4th November 1972 that was to see the end of the prodigy’s career. Having already scored in the victory over Brentford the 24 year-old turned on the edge of the area at the Muller Road end to hit a shot on goal. As he fell to the ground clutching his knee everyone feared it was a knee cartilage injury. It turned out to be much worse. Wayne had a dreadful arthritic condition, which had never been diagnosed. His career was over.