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RAY JONES 1944-2007

One of Chester’s most popular players from the 1960s, full back Ray Jones, sadly died recently at the age of 63. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

A locally born player Ray was a fierce tackler, blessed with a quick turn of pace and few wingers got the better of him. He even subdued the legendary George Best when given the task of marking the Irish wizard in the FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Manchester United in 1965. Many older fans will also remember the unfortunate incident on New Years Day 1966 when both Ray and fellow full back Bryn Jones ended up in hospital together after suffering broken legs in the league match against Aldershot. That injury proved to be a major setback in Ray’s career as stories had been circulating of an imminent £18,000 move to Blackpool and it was nearly 12 months before he returned to the side.

Ray first joined the club as a schoolboy at the age of 14, when John Harris was the manager, and enthusiastically played for the schoolboys in the morning and Chester in the afternoon. In those days Chester not only had a reserve team playing in the Cheshire County League but also A and B team and Ray gradually progressed through the ranks until he made his debut in winter 1962 against Hartlepools United at the age of 18. In 1963/64 Ray shared the right back position with veteran John Molyneux but made the shirt his own at the start of the following season. The 1964/65 season will be remembered as the season that Chester scored 119 league goals and the role of the defence is often overlooked in what was a close group of players. Although 81 goals were conceded Peter Hauser’s attacking philosophy was underpinned by a defence where Ray only missed the first three games of the campaign. That season can best be summed up by the League Cup tie against Derby County, arguably the most thrilling game seen at Sealand Road, when Chester won 5-4. Ray himself recalled it as a wonderful game that was fantastic to play in despite the defence conceding four goals.

As the 1960s drew to a close Ken Roberts took over as manager and a change in the playing system saw Ray struggle to retain his place in the side following the arrival of Roy Cheetham and he was released at the end of 1968/69. At the age of 25 he reverted to part-time football while working as an engineer at RAF Sealand and played in the Northern Premier League for Runcorn. After two years at Canal Street Ray moved to Oswestry Town followed by Bethesda and finally Colwyn Bay where he eventually became player-manager. At the end of the 1970s he started the successful youth policy at Rhyl that produced talented players like Andy Holden, Barry Horne, Andy Jones and Carl Dale before taking the manager’s role for five years during which time the Lilywhites were promoted three times. After a three year break from football Ray briefly returned to the game with Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Talking a few years ago about his career at Sealand Road Ray recalled that one of his favourite Chester games was the 6-1 hammering of Wrexham back in February 1965. He remembered that in front of just under 15,000 fans the Chester players spent the last ten minutes crisply rolling the ball around the pitch with the Wrexham players unable to get near the ball. Ray Jones – a true Chester man.

Football League record

October 1962 – June 1969 Chester 169+1 appearances

First Chester game – v Hartlepools United (a) 7 December 1962
Last Chester game – v Exeter City (h) 19 April 1969

Chas Sumner [22/7/07]










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