Matt Healey continues the series.
Richard Jones was born in Usk on the 26 April 1969. He started his career at Newport County and moved to Hereford United in the summer of 1988. He didn’t have far to travel to sign for the Bulls.
Jones told me “I was at Newport and they were struggling financially, cheques were bouncing and it was a dire state. I nearly signed for Wimbledon for £85,000, but that fell through, out of the blue Ian Bowyer (Hereford Manager) contacted me and invited me up. Ian was one of my heroes when he played for Nottingham Forest, he didnt have to sell it to me, Hereford was a well run family club”
I asked Jones if the Wimbledon move falling through had a negative effect on him. The Crazy Gang had just won the FA Cup and were at their peak with the likes of John Fashanu and Vinnie Jones playing for them “Bobby Gould (Wimbledon Manager) watched me at Newport. I played in a reserve game for Wimbledon, we just couldn’t agree terms and it all got a bit messy and the deal fell through. Both clubs blamed each other. I went back to Newport, but due to legal reasons I couldn’t train for them. I just wanted to play football and when Ian Bowyer offered me a deal it would be a fresh start for me”
Jones made his debut for the Bulls in a 3-1 opening day defeat away at Scunthorpe United on the 27th August 1988. The season started late in those days and Jones made his first Hereford start alongside former soldier Mick Campbell who also lined up for the whites.
The 1988/1989 season saw Phil Stant score 33 league and cup goals. Jones had plenty of admiration for his former colleague.
“Stanty was brilliant, from midfield you could stick the ball over to him and he was very good inside the box, he was very tricky and had a bit of everything”
Jones was fantastic in midfield alongside Jon Narbett and Paul Maddy and was the 1988/1989 player of the year, making 38 league appearances that campaign for Hereford.
The 1989/1990 season saw Hereford reach the 4th round of the FA Cup facing top flight Manchester United and also win the Welsh Cup with a 2-1 victory over Wrexham. Sadly Jones didn’t play a part in any of those games and had a frustrating time with injuries.
“It was disappointing to miss out on those occasions, but that’s football for you. Not playing against Manchester United hurt, but later on I played for Barry Town in Europe and that made up for it”
Jones though regained fitness and had another fantastic season for Hereford during the 1990/1991 campaign. Colin Addison had returned as manager and Jones scored in the opening day 2-1 defeat against Northampton Town. Jones was building up a good understanding in midfield with Jon Narbett. Hereford though struggled to put the ball in the net. The goals from Phil Stant hadn’t been replaced and the team struggled to hit the back of the net.
Disaster struck in the summer of 1991 when Jones was hospitalized for three weeks. “I trained pre-season but was struggling. I had just signed a two year contract and we had a new manager in John Sillett, I was just getting tired, but kept trying to impress and I then started to go downhill. I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever, but I think I was also burnt out from too much football. I didn’t play a game until the February”
Jones returned to the side and made 14 league starts. He was on the scoresheet in a 3-1 loss away at Rochdale on the 21st March 1992.
Sillett would depart as manager and Player Coach Greg Downs would take over the Hereford hotseat. The budget had been slashed and the club was financially struggling on gates of under 2,000.
Jones was one of 4 Hereford players sent off in a infamous 1-1 draw against Northampton Town on the 6th September 1992. Alongside Andy Theodosiou, Greg Downs and David Titterton. Jones received his marching orders from controversial referee Brian Coddington. Jones remembers the match which was an uneventful boring 0-0 with 20 minutes to go.
“To be honest the referee made some strange decisions that day, he had a name for doing that, it seemed every couple of minutes players were being sent off, we were having to cover extra ground due to our lack of players, my red card foul was mis-timed at the end, it was one of those bizarre days, Greg (Downs) said nobody would be fined for being sent off, the referee had a nightmare, I’ve watched the footage back on YouTube and Coddington lost control”
Jones was on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over Colchester United on the 28th November 1992.
Jones played the majority of matches during the 1992/1993 season, but with Jon Narbett now at Oxford United, he shared midfield duties with Derek Hall who was the club captain.
Jones would sadly leave the club that season. His last Hereford appearance was a 1-0 win away at Halifax Town on the 8th May 1993.
“Me and Greg Downs got on ok, but I got released the end of the season. I enjoyed every minute of my five seasons at the club. I ended up signing for Swansea City who were a league above Hereford at the time, at the Vetch I started getting problems with my knee, so after my contract was up I linked up with Barry Town in the Welsh league.
The Barry team were a formidable outfit in the mid 1990’s and dominated welsh football. Jones linked up with former Hereford players Chris Pike and Chris Fry”
“We worked hard and were full time, there was a lot of travelling on awful roads, especially to places up north like Conwy and Bangor, we learnt from the big European teams that we played against, we spent a lot of money on the pitch so we could play decent football.
Jones retired from the full time game at 32 and was the Assistant Manager at Merthyr and Havefordwest. “My knee was giving me serious problems and it will need to be replaced at some point, I loved getting involved in the training, but my knee wouldn’t let me. I’ve left football now and play a lot of golf, but I would like to possibly get involved in the game again in the future”
*Photos supplied by Ron Parrott and the MH Archive