Mark Jones: A Busby Babe remembered


Academy Regular
My Fellow Reds

My name is John White and I am the Branch Secretary of Carryduff Manchester United Supporters’ Club in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Sam at The Peoples Person suggested I post the article, see below, which I wrote for our Branch Facebook page yesterday.

I post an “ON THIS DAY” entry daily on our Branch Facebook page

You can see today’s “ON THIS DAY” entry by visiting our Branch Facebook page.

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On 7 October 1950, Mark Jones made his debut for Manchester United. Jones, signed for United as an apprentice after leaving school aged 15 in the summer of 1948. He quickly established himself as a versatile centre half in the MUJAC side. In the late 1930s Louis Rocca was appointed as the first Chief Scout of the Manchester United Junior Athletic Club (MUJAC), and, through his connections to the Manchester Catholic Sportsman’s Club, he appointed a network of scouts from the Catholic Church. The two names that Rocca’s scouting system is best known for discovering are Stan Pearson and Johnny Carey. MUJAC was the forerunner to the Manchester United Academy which was established in 1998.

In season 1950-51, Matt Busby’s first choice centre half alongside club captain Johnny Carey was Allenby Chilton but Chilton was unavailable for the English First Division game versus Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford on Saturday 7 October 1950. So, Busby took the advice of his right hand man, Jimmy Murphy who was in charge of United’s Youth Team, and handed Jones his debut in a 3-1 win (scorers: John Downie, Harry McShane & Jack Rowley who was celebrating his 30th birthday). Chilton, aged 32, was called up by England and won the first of his two international caps in a 4-1 win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast the very same day in a British Home International Championship match. His United teammate, John Aton Snr also played in the game whilst England were managed at the time by a former United player, Walter Winterbottom. Jones played three more times for United in the League in season 1950-51. Despite impressing in the Youth Team, Jones could not secure a regular starting place ahead of the ageing, but immensely reliable, Chilton. Over the course of the following three seasons, Jones only managed 18 first team appearances, whilst Chilton was named club captain for season 1953-54 following Carey’s retirement from the game at the end of the 1952-53 season. However, early into the 1954-55 season, having missed only 13 games in 9 seasons at United, and with 175 consecutive appearances to his name, Chilton, aged 37, approached Busby and asked to be rested from first team action. His place in the team was taken by Jones who quickly asserted himself in the side and played in 13 of United’s League games. When Chilton left Old Trafford in the summer of 1955, Jones aged just 22 at the time, was, along with the magnificent Duncan Edwards (aged only 18) Busby’s first choice centre half partnership (their fellow Busby Babe Roger Byrne, aged 26, was appointed captain). They proved to be a highly dynamic duo, Jones playing all 42 of United’s League games scoring once (versus Birmingham City in a 2-1 League win at Old Trafford on 17 December 1955), Edwards played in 33 and scored 3 times to help United win the English First Division Championship. In season 1956-57, Jones played in 29 League games to help United retain their First Division crown.

On 12 September 1956, Manchester United became the first English side to play a competitive game in Europe, a Preliminary First Round Leg versus RSC Anderlecht. United won the tie 2-0 (scorers: Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor) at Stade Émile Versé Stadium, Anderlecht, Brussels, Belgium. The team that made history that evening lined-up as follows: Ray Wood, Bill Foulkes, Roger Byrne (captain), Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, Jackie Blanchflower, Johnny Berry, Liam Whelan, David Pegg, Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor.


Branch Secretary
Carryduff Manchester United Supporters’ Club
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