Dragons Wings: Cliff Jones
The next player to feature in this series is Cliff Jones of Tottenham Hotspur and Wales fame.
You may have seen Cliff Jones this week in his role at Tottenham Hotspur saying farewell to White Hart Lane, and if you saw a video on Twitter of Cliff this week singing a song and looking very sprightly you would have seen a man in fine form enjoying life, smiling and laughing and looking in great shape. He looked weight wise very little different to the man who terrified many a full-back during his playing career.
Cliff Jones was born in Swansea in 1935, the left-sided player made his debut for his hometown club in 1952, and after only 25 games for his club, he made his international debut for Wales in 1954.
In 1955, Jones scored the winning goal in a 2–1 victory against England at Ninian Park, a goal Jones himself has said as the best goal he has ever scored. The British Home Championship that season was the only occasion in its history where all four team finished on the same number of points, and as goal difference at that point, had not been introduced into tournament football, all four teams shared the trophy for three months each.
In 1958, Jones went to Sweden representing Wales for the World Cup Finals, Jones was a star in the tournament tormenting right full-backs with his left wing wizardry, with Jones on one side and fellow Swansea-born, Terry Medwin on the other, Wales were a handful for any side in the tournament, and fans around the world could not fail to be impressed. Jones played in all five of the matches Wales took part in, coming home to Swansea with a number of top clubs looking to get his signature to a contract. He had been at Swansea, for 6 years, making 168 appearances, scoring 47 goals, and the time was right for him to move onto bigger and better things to further his career, his stock was very high after that successful World Cup.
The club that got his services was Tottenham Hotspur, who he joined in 1958, the club paying £35,000 for the Welshman. On the day of his debut for the club, Jones travelled by public transport, getting to the ground with the club’s football fans, soon he would be adored by the club for his footballing ability and even to this day, the name of Cliff Jones is held in very high esteem, indeed being inducted into the club’s Hall Of Fame.
The highlights of his career were no doubt winning the League and Cup double in 1960–61 season, winning the FA Cup in 1962 and also winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963. Jones played a huge part of their success during this period. The player was rated at his footballing heights as the best-left winger in the world. Juventus the Italian giants made a bid for the player of £100,000 which legendary manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Bill Nicholson, rejected immediately, stating the player was “priceless”.
After 10 years at the club, Cliff Jones left Tottenham Hotspur in 1968, after playing 370 games in all competitions and scoring 159 goals, joining fellow London club, Fulham. Jones played 2 years at the club, playing 25 times and scoring 2 goals, Jones went onto his end his playing career at the non-league club, Kings Lynn.
Internationally, Jones played for Wales for 15 years between 1954 and 1969, he was a major star for his country during this period in teams that sometimes struggled, Jones always shone as a major star and deserved to play as many Welsh players have over the years, in major international tournaments a number of times. People rightly rave about wingers of that period such as Brazilians, Garrincha, Jairzinho and Spaniard, Francisco Gento as all-time greats, but in my view, if Cliff Jones had the exposure those players had internationally he would be talked about as much as those names I have listed. He was a phenomenal player, great skills, incredible balance with always a great end product, players such as Derek Tapscott, Trevor Ford and John Charles all flourished as centre-forwards with the delivery Jones possessed, giving them goal scoring opportunities galore and many international goals on their resumes. Jones played for Wales, 59 times, scoring 16 goals.
Meredith, Medwin and Jones, join me soon for the next Welsh winger in this series of the Dragons Wings, I hope you have enjoyed reading this article half as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Please keep an eye out for the next article in this series.