Captain Jones of the Boro
By Rob Nichols
Saturday 18 Feb 2012 10:10:00
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Gordon Jones played for Boro for a post war record 528 games, most of them at left back and was captain for a large part of this amazing total. I met Gordon at the launch of the Boro Back from the Brink exhibition at the Dorman Museum we looked at the exhibits and reminisced and also looked ahead to the England Under 21 game at the Riverside on Wed 29th February.


Fly: What are your impressions of looking round the exhibition? Does it bring back a few memories?

GJ: Yes it certainly does. It’s good to come and have a look. Some of the things that I haven't seen before. I have never seen... I was going to say I had never seen Bernie's balls before (laughs). Its good to see all these things going back there for George Hardwick and Wilf Mannion, through the generations and I think it is absolutely great.


Fly: Gordon you were capped for England Under 23s. It must be a great honour to play for your country and represent at any level?

GJ: Yes it’s a great honour at any level and I got the surprise of my life because I got picked for the Under 23s when a current Middlesbrough player, Mick McNeil was already in the Under 23 side and he got injured down at Leeds and I was called up after him. So it was like two Middlesbrough players for the same position and I got in there. It was a great honour and I finally got 9 caps. I was fortunate to play with Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Fly: You would be in the old Second Division at that stage.

GJ: Yes, the old Second Division.


Fly: Middlesbrough will be hosting an Under 21 game at the end of February. That is an honour for the town isn't it?

GJ: Yes. It’s an honour for the town. Years ago we used to get the England B internationals and Scotland v Football League teams playing here but since they've all more or less ceased to exist we've had very little. Of course in 66 we had the Word Cup and we've had another full international since then. But this is absolutely great for the club and we should support it 100% the supporters.


Mogga ShirtsFly: Absolutely. Going back to the exhibition you hold the most post war appearances for Middlesbrough and were captain for a long, long time and played for several managers.

GJ: Yes a few managers.


Fly: And still very much involved with the football club through the Former Players Association.

GJ: Yes I've just been talking to Gary (Pallister) and Bernie here about that and the great thing about is that former players no matter what age group we come from seem to have this relationship, where you can get on well. We can go to the football club and invite former players back to the club because we have a Former Players Association now at Middlesbrough which Alan Peacock, Jim Platt and myself formed. We get former players back and we got Uwe Fuchs coming over from Germany for the Crystal Palace match. We've had players coming over from Australia and it is brilliant to see these lads. At the end of the day it is all about Middlesbrough Football Club, we played for the club and we love the club and it is just taking it forward from here.

Fly: At this exhibition we have history going back to the 19th century and you played such a big part in all that. Does it make you feel proud?

GJ: Yes. I keep looking back and I think well I joined the club in 58 so I can say that I've got over 50 years experience. Nearly half the time of the club. And one of the questions I keep getting asked is who were the best players? Over the different eras. And I've got to go back and say it is great to see the old medals of George Hardwick and Wilf Mannion and Micky Fenton and George Camsell. I've got to go back to that day, because what those lads had was the old ball and the old boots and heavy strips and everything. If you see old footage of it the television cameras don't do it justice. These lads could play. And each club had local grown lads because in those days the kids were brought up on the streets and they came to the clubs and they played for the clubs and nine times out of ten they stuck with the clubs as I did. You won't get people playing 500 games for a club now because the loyalty to the club is not there it is more about pounds, shillings and pence now. I still go back and say the older players would get my vote as the best set.


Fly: That's interesting. I came across a DVD the other day of one of the many meetings we had in the cup against Man United in your era. And Frank Spraggon marked George Best out of the game.

GJ: That's exactly right. I played against Bestie a few times; we played Manchester United a lot of times. Frank virtually took over the left back position when I left and Frank was originally a left half and they didn't have a left back when I left and they converted Frank. He did a good job for a couple of years. He wasn't a left back Frank but he did a good job.


Fly: I am of the generation where I only really remember him as a left back.

GJ: He came to the club as more or less a sweeper but although he was a biggish lad he wasn't really big enough for there. What really happened was he went for an operation and it affected his eye sight a little bit. I think he was thrust into the left back position when I left the club and as I say he did a job. Good on Frank because he is a smashing lad and he had been at the club for ten or twelve years.


Fly: And you yourself was one of the highlights for you the promotion from the old Third Division?

GJ: Yes, obviously it was in 66. I was captain of the team. Stan Anderson made me captain for that year after the club had gone through a terrible period. We had a terrible start of the season but eventually we found our way and we hardly lost a game at the end of the season. That was probably the highlight for me and possibly for me Stan Anderson goes down as one of the best managers or coaches I've played under. Big Jack came along and won everything and got a lot of credit for it but 90% of those players were Stan Anderson's.


Fly: You can see that from just looking around this exhibition. Over in the corner your autograph is on a ball with more or less the Jack Charlton Championship winning team.

GJ: That's exactly right. Bobby Murdoch made a big difference to the club mind. Bobby was a great, great player and I think he made Graeme Souness as well. Because when Graeme came to the club he was a tippy-tappy I'm a prima donna sort. Graeme will be the first to admit it. In fact I remember his first game I think at Fulham and him and I in the toilets and at each other's throats. He had given me killer balls all through the first half. But I think he saw Bobby and he realised and Big Jack got at him and he turned out to be the great player he was.


Fly: Without a doubt. So, a lot of good memories for you then here.

GJ: Oh. Very happy memories of Middlesbrough Football Club, no doubt about that.


BORO BACK FROM THE BRINK exhibition continues until April at the Dorman Museum and is totally free to visit – the museum is open Tues to Sunday 9.30am-5pm.


England v Belgium Under 21 international – 6pm kick off Riverside – Wed 29th Feb – tickets £10/£5 – Half price season ticket holders for further details

(photos - John Buchan)

Boro Back from the Brink

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