Matt Healey continues the series.
In the history of Hereford United there were three Mark Jones’s that played for the club. One was a goalkeeper who performed heroics during the FA Cup run of 1999, the other was a right back who also played for Aston Villa. The one we are featuring is a midfielder who was signed from Walsall in 1989 for a fee of £7,500. Jones was affectionately nicknamed TinTin.
That summer manager Ian Bowyer spent a bit of money. Chris Hemming joined from Stoke City for £25,000. Colin Robinson signed from Birmingham City for £10,000 and Russell Bradley joined from Nottingham Forest for £15,000
Jones told me “I wanted to get first team football. I was in an out of the starting eleven at Walsall. Hereford manager Ian Bowyer got in touch and we signed a deal”
Jones made his debut coming on as a sub in an opening day 2-2 draw with Carlisle United on the 19th August 1989. He was out of team then until the 27th September 1989 and starred in a 3-2 home win against Chesterfield.
Three days later he opened his Hereford United account with a goal in a 2-0 win away at Grimsby Town.
Jones was forming a successful midfield partnership with Jon Narbett. Things would get a bit confusing on Ceefax (Before the internet age this is how you would get the live scores) when a Jones scored a goal for Hereford, as at the time the club had two Mark Jones’s, the other was a right back who was known as Mark A Jones, then there was another midfielder in Richard Jones and things got more confusing with another midfielder who had Jones as a surname but his my first name was Shane.
Jones was getting a reputation of a midfield dynamo who could chip in with a goal. He hit the back of the net in a 2-1 win away at Hartlepool United on 2nd December 1989 and again in a 2-1 home defeat to Scunthorpe United on the 16th December 1989.
Jones’s most famous goal was against his former club Walsall in a FA Cup 3rd tie at Edgar Street on the 6th January 1990. In a dramatic late late show it was Roy of the Rovers stuff as Jones slotted home a penalty on 87 minutes and two minutes later captain Mel Pejic scored to clinch a 2-1 win and the financial windfall of a 4th round home clash with Manchester United.
“I was still living in Walsall at the time, lots of my friends were in the away end, I had a lot banter off them during the week, but I put that at the back of my mind and got on with the job”
It was on to Manchester United in the next round a crowd of 13,777 packed into Edgar Street that Sunday lunchtime.
“There was loads of rain on the days leading up to the game, it was questionable whether it would be on or off, on the day the groundsman was trying to get the water off the pitch, we thought it would be a bit of a leveler as they liked to play football, it was an enjoyable game, but heartbreaking to lose near the end, but it was a great day” Clayton Blackmore’s goal in the 84th minute broke Hereford hearts.
Hereford though were inconsistent in the league but Jones kept scoring regularly. He scored in a brace in a 3-3 draw away at Scunthorpe United on the 21st April 1990. The game is remembered for father and son Ian & Gary Bowyer both appearing for the Hereford time that afternoon.
Hereford though we having a great run in the Welsh Cup. Connahs Quay Nomads, Kidderminster Harriers and Bangor City were defeated in the earlier rounds. It would be 3rd Division Cardiff City who Hereford would face in a two legged semi final.
In a famous win Hereford would defeat the Bluebirds 3-0 in the 1st leg at Ninian Park, Jones opened the scoring.
Hereford won more away games than home that season and the return leg at Edgar Street against Cardiff City wasn’t a foregone conclusion. It was proved right as Hereford scraped through with a 3-1 loss, but went through 4-3 on aggregate.
It was onto the Arms Park in the capital city of Cardiff to face Wrexham in the final on the 13th May 1990.
“We went down on the Saturday and stayed in a hotel, we popped to the ground to have a look around, it was a trick Ian Bowyer got from Brian Clough during their European Cup finals at Nottingham Forest, there was a seven a side rugby match going on, it was an amazing stadium at the time”
Hereford would win the game 2-1 with goals from Colin Robinson and Ian Benbow.
“We dominated the game and were deserved winners”
Hereford had played a whopping 65 league and cup games that season. Jones was the top scorer with nine goals. Bowyer’s youthful squad were playing some great football and things seemed to be on the up, sadly things took a drastic change for the club and Jones.
Ian Bowyer would leave that summer, a dispute over the permanent signing of his son Gary Bowyer to Nottingham Forest meant that both Bowyer’s departed Edgar Street.
Colin Addison returned from the Spanish sunshine and took over as the new manager. Addision had great success as Hereford manager in the 1970’s. He masterminded a famous FA Cup win against Newcastle United and led the club from the Southern League to the old 3rd Division.
Jones suffered an injury in the pre-season “I came on as a sub at Aberystwyth , I took a shot towards goal and then felt a shooting pain down my shin, we were on a training camp down there and when we got back to Hereford I had an X Ray, when we got it back they discovered a fracture. At the time Nigel Vaughan had broken his ankle in a pre-season game so there were two of us out injured. I then did my rehabilitation for the next few months”
Jones continued. “I made my comeback in a reserve game. I played 20 minutes and snapped the cruciate in my knee and that was the end of my Football League career”
Jones would sadly be released at the end of that season.
Jones still would play football part time “I played non league in the midlands for the likes of Hednesford and Walsall Wood, but needed to earn a living, a friend of mine had a transport company, so I went to work for him. I’m still driving now, but have my own lorry”