Barrie Jones

Ambassador's Argyle Archives | No. 7: Record Signing

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Argyle's record signing. 

Any football fan would be hard pressed to think of a British transfer record involving a Plymouth Argyle player.

But that was the case when wing wizard Barrie Jones left his native Wales to aid the Pilgrim cause.

Despite his star status, he was a player who suffered on numerous occasions one of the most heartbreaking scenarios for a footballer – being a losing semi-finalist.

He joined Swansea Town as a junior (the club didn’t adopt the name Swansea City until 1969 to reflect the new city status) and found himself in good company. He literally cleaned the boots of some of the biggest names in Welsh football – Terry Medwin, Cliff Jones and the Allchurch brothers, Ivor and Len.

Barrie Jones progressed well and in September 1959, a month short of his eighteenth birthday, signed as a professional.

Winning the Welsh Cup for the first time, he scored in the 1961 final as Bangor were defeated 3-1 at the neutral venue of Cardiff.

A good run in the 1963-64 League Cup saw Swansea meet Bill Shankly’s Liverpool, and cause a quarter-final upset in front of over 52,000 at Anfield.

Although Liverpool included names such as Tommy Lawrence, Ronnie Moran, Ron Yeats, Ian Callaghan, Roger Hunt and Ian St John, The Reds could only muster a consolation goal from Peter Thompson. That was after Jim McLoughlin and Eddie Thomas scored in the space of two minutes.

In the Swansea goal was another player who would later join Argyle, Noel Dwyer.

The resulting semi-final, at Villa Park, was an all Second Division affair against Preston North End.

The Welsh following totalled 30,000, almost half of the capacity crowd, and they were delighted to see McLoughlin give their side a lead. He also, amazingly, hit the bar on no less than three occasions.

But a disputed Preston penalty saw them back into the game which the Lancashire side eventually won 2-1.

After 166 Second Division games, in which Jones scored 23 goals for Swansea. he was transferred to Plymouth Argyle under Malcolm Allison in September, 1964.

Such was the manager’s style in not being afraid to field young players who showed plenty of flair, Allison not only broke the club’s previous monetary high to sign Jones for £45,000, but also set a new British transfer record for a winger.

On his Argyle debut, on 12 September, 1964, a Second Division point was earned against Ipswich Town with Frank Lord netting for The Pilgrims.

Jones claimed his first Argyle goal when he and Lord were on target in a 2-0 win at Bury.

At five feet, eight inches tall, Jones would not be renowned for his goal scoring record, but as a tricky winger who could beat the best of full-backs. He was certainly a creator.

His first season with The Greens was also noted for the League Cup exploits which took the club to the last four when they faced Leicester City.

Although missing the first meeting at Filbert Street, which City won 3-2, through injury, he did appear in the return leg. However, the gap in class was too much and City headed for Wembley after the 4-2 aggregate win.

His international career saw him represent his country at full level just a couple of times during his stay at Home Park.

He won a total of 15 caps as well as representing Wales eight times at under-23 level and, indeed, there was a crossover period between that and the step up to the senior side.

Playing in the British Home Internationals during the 1962-63 season, the 4-0 defeat to England at Wembley Stadium in November 1962 reveals another Plymouth Argyle link.

England cruised to a 4-0 win, with goals by John Connelly and Jimmy Greaves scored either side of a brace from Alan Peacock, playing in one of his six internationals. Then of Middlesbrough, Peacock would sign for Argyle seven months after Jones had left.

Jones also played in two European Championship qualifiers, both against Hungary. They resulted in a 3-1 defeat in Budapest followed by a 1-1 draw at Ninian Park.

Although the majority of his appearances for Wales came in the British Championships, in 1969 Jones played in World Cup qualifying defeats against Italy and East Germany.

One other match of note was also played in that year in Cardiff when Wales faced a ‘Rest Of The UK’ team that included Gordon Banks, George Best, The Charlton brothers, Billy Bremner, Francis Lee and John Greig. The special fixture was organised to commemorate the investiture of The Prince of Wales.

The two goals Jones scored for his country came in a defeat against Scotland and in a very creditable 1-1 draw at Frankfurt in a friendly against West Germany.

Back on the domestic front, his time at Home Park concluded in March 1967 after 110 appearances League and cup appearances with 12 goals. Failing to continue to be an automatic selection under Derek Ufton, who succeeded Allison, he returned to Wales on a £25,000 transfer to Cardiff City.

Turned into a more of a central midfield player, he won the Welsh Cup on three further occasions, but in another competition, there was more semi-final disappointment, this time in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. With each round played over two legs, City progressed after victories over Shamrock Rovers, Dutch side NAC Breda and Torpedo Moscow before being paired with Hamburg.

Things seemed promising after a 1-1 draw at the Volksparkstadion, but a 3-2 success for the Germans, with the winner scored four minutes from time, saw them take on eventual winners AC Milan in the final.

From the moment he joined Cardiff City, he was immediately in the starting 11. From that point, Jones made all of his 107 League appearances consecutively, just seven short of the club record. He also contributed 18 goals, but that run came to a cruel end when he suffered a broken leg in October 1969 in a match against Blackpool.

Several comebacks at reserve team level didn’t see him return to the standard of fitness required in the Football League. Jones then moved into non-League football, playing in successive years from 1971 for Yeovil Town, Worcester City and Merthyr Tydfil. 

Following his playing days, Jones became a sports master at two prep schools.

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