Another Precious Link With The Glory Years Broken
We at Wolves Heroes wish to add our condolences to the many already expressed following the death of former Molineux full-back Gwyn Jones in North Wales.
The defender, who played a small part in the winning of successive League titles in the late 1950s before captaining Bristol Rovers during a substantial career in the West Country, had the very Welsh-sounding full first name of Gwynfor and was interviewed by us more than once in our earlier years.
We were then contacted in the summer by a reporter writing about him for a Welsh publication and were disappointed we couldn’t subsequently reach him on his home number after learning he was also a talented musician.
It has now transpired that he was suffering from dementia and was admitted about a year ago to Bryn Seioint Newydd Care Home in Caernarfon, where he died aged 85.
Debbie Parry, a senior nurse there, is also an avid Wolves supporter. She informed Molineux officials about his death and has been quoted as saying in other tributes: “We enjoyed long conversations about the club right up until the last few weeks. Last season, I was attending games and watching them on TV and Gwyn was always keen to talk about them. He had a Wolves badge and Bristol Rovers badge on his bedroom door either side of his name. I also have a Wolves lanyard to which my keys are attached. Whenever Gwyn saw it, his face would light up and he’d want to touch it. He was such a lovely, lovely man and we are going to miss him terribly.”
Jones, a former Welsh youth captain, was born in the West Wales county of Gwynned in 1935 and didn’t visualise playing pro football. He had a grammar school teaching job lined up while playing for Caernarfon in his late teens.
But an appearance for a Bangor Select XI in a charity match against Wolves’ first team in April, 1955 impressed director Jim Marshall sufficiently for the club to set about recruiting him.
Jones was doing his National Service at the time and is reported to have signed at Molineux on £15 a week, with a £2 win bonus and £1 for a draw.
His 22 senior games for Wolves were strung out across five years, with two in the 1957-58 campaign – a home win over Chelsea and a 4-0 victory at Manchester United – and three when Stan Cullis’s men retained their crown 12 months later.
His best run in the first team was at the start of 1959-60, when four outings in quick succession in the no 3 shirt normally worn by Gerry Harris included the Charity Shield victory over Nottingham Forest at Molineux.
Senior debut day had been a memorable one – a 3-2 home success over Albion in December, 1955, a few weeks after his arrival in the West Midlands. Other highlights for him were facing foreign opposition under the Molineux lights and going to South Africa on tour in the summer of 1957.
Jones also played five Division One matches in a row early in a miserable 1961-62 campaign for the club when it was becoming clear Bobby Thomson, as well as Harris, was blocking his path to a regular place.
That intense competition was the reason this prematurely bald campaigner moved on in the wake of his final Wolves match – a 4-0 defeat at Everton on March 3, 1962.
Much more about him can be found on this site by putting the name Gwyn Jones into the search engine above right, including evidence amid the bribes scandal in the game in the 1960s of what a strong moral compass he possessed.
That sensational story unfolded while he was at Bristol, for whom he made more than 150 appearances, including an FA Cup tie at Manchester United and a 7-0 slaughter of Shrewsbury. He later played close to his roots for Portmadoc.
We bring this tribute towards a close by saying Gwyn was a fully qualified FA coach, having attended the same course as Bill McGarry. He followed his playing career by working for 22 years in the clerical department of an aluminium smelting company in Anglesey and retired early at 57.
We are reliably informed that he was an accomplished pianist who gained Advanced Honours from the Royal College of Music. It’s a sad irony therefore that there can be no singing at his covid-safe funeral in Anglesey on Monday, when his good friend, Nia Davies-Williams, the musician-in-residence at Bryn Seiont, will be playing the harp.
Gwyn will later be laid to rest with his wife, Margaretta, at St Twrog’s Church in Llandwrog, the village in which he was born.