Tributes have been paid to Whaley Bridge’s ‘secret’ football star, Bill Jones, who played in defence for England and Liverpool, including an FA Cup final. He was also a hero in World War II, which so interrupted his football career, winning the Military Medal with the King’s Regiment.
Bill’s daughter, a frequent contributor to the Forum and the history sites of whaleybridge.com, announced her dad’s death at the age of 89 in a Chester hospital on Boxing Day. She thanked local contributors to the history site for their ”immense help in providing subjects for chatting to Dad about all things ‘Whaley’ – I thank everyone for your help with the great variety of chatting subjects.”
One of those local contributors reminded users of the Forum that Bill Jones had replaced Bob Paisley – who went on to become Liverpool’s manager – in the 1950 FA Cup final at Wembley. It was Liverpool’s first appearance in a Wembley final.
Bill made a total of 277 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 17 goals. He helped the Reds win the old Division One title in the first season after the war, scoring twice in the decider against Wolves.
Bill’s grandson Rob Jones also played for Liverpool. Back n the 90s, Bill said of his grandson: “I have to admit he is a better player than I was. He is a lot faster for a start.”
Bill Jones (William Henry Jones) was born in 1921 in Bridge Street, Whaley Bridge, next door to “The Bridge Street Barber”. His father died when Bill was only seven, leaving Mum to raise three young children on her own.
On leaving school, Bill worked in Whaley ‘shed’ and also the wire mill. At 17 he was spotted playing for Hayfield St Matthew football team and recommended to Liverpool FC. He signed as a professional in 1938, but a year later as the war began he was in the Army.
On demob, his interrupted career with Liverpool FC took off. Bill was twice capped for England. Liverpool lost in the 1950 cup final against Arsenal, but still received a fantastic welcome home. Bill’s football career with Liverpool finished in 1953 and he became player-manager with Ellesmere Port. He went on to ‘scout’ for Liverpool FC and recommended the likes of Roger Hunt and Ian Rush to the club.
One local tribute said “Bill was a remarkable and brave man, who has been through much hardship and danger, and who managed to achieve great things.”
Back in the 50s, former Liverpool captain Don MacKinlay called Bill “one of the finest centre halves I have ever seen.”