What a player Jason Jones was!
The ultimate attacking midfielder in the mould of Bryan Robson or Steven Gerrard.
At his peak, in and around Welsh Alliance level, few could influence a game like Jason could.
A long career included spells at Porthmadog, Bangor City, Bishop Auckland, Llanberis, Caernarfon Town and Pwllheli, but perhaps he is best known for his achievements at Nefyn United, as player-manager.
Born on January 6, 1977, as a schoolboy Jason developed his talents at Crewe Alexandra.
“At the age of 14 I played for Crewe Alex for approximately one year.” he recalled. “They were very exciting times, I had the privilege of staying at Dario Gradi’s house and trained with the first team from time to time.
“Whilst at Crewe, I had trials with Norwich City but nothing materialised from that. It was still enjoyable and I had the privilege of playing on Carrow Road.”
While serving in the military, based in Catterick, he played a few games for Northern Premier League club Bishop Auckland, but a new posting brought that experience to a sudden halt.
Next for Jason was a move to one of North Wales’ very top clubs.
He said: “I then went to Bangor City with my best friend and probably one of the best, toughest, most committed players I have ever known John (Gwynfor) Jones.
“Peter Davenport was the manager at the time; we struggled to get into a very strong team so both of us left to go and play for Porthmadog. With Port we won the Cymru Alliance (2002-03) and were promoted. Viv Williams and Osian Roberts were managing at the time.”
Jason continued: “After that season the good days began at Nefyn United as player-manager.
“We had some fantastic times and exceeded all expectations as we got promoted from the Gwynedd League (2004-05) to the Welsh Alliance and came sixth in our first year, and I won the Welsh Alliance League Player of the Season.
“Playing and managing Nefyn was an honour as we had a fantastic group of guys on the pitch and even better off in the likes of Eifion Parry, Mike Pollitt to name a few.
“On paper we probably weren’t the best footballers, but we had a special bond and never-say-die attitude that made us Nefyn.
“Since retiring I’ve heard so many ex players say that they really didn’t want to play against Nefyn because we could beat anyone on our day and they knew they were in for a tough afternoon.
“I remember one time playing away in Holywell (top of the league then), being 2-0 down with eight minutes remaining, and we scored three goals to win the game 3-2.
“Another game that sticks in my mind was our first ever game in the Welsh Alliance against the previous year’s runners up, Rhydymwyn. We destroyed them 4-0 I think and I scored arguably the best goal of my career. We won quite a few cups with Nefyn over the years.”
John Gwynfor Jones took over as manager at Cae’r Delyn in 2008-09 and it was not too long before there were new adventures in store for Jason.
He said: “I moved to Llanberis to live so started playing for the Darans.
“I really enjoyed my first two years but I was then asked to join the Cofis (Caernarfon Town) in their quest to start climbing up the leagues. I spent two to three seasons here in a very strong squad, and we were definitely going in the right direction. I was a regular centre-mid in this team.”
In 2010/11, Jason played 21 times and made one sub’s appearance for Town, scoring four goals under Steve Smith and Colin Saynor.
He was a member of the Caernarfon side that beat his old club Nefyn 2-1 to lift the Barritt Cup during that season.
Jason remained at The Oval for the 2011/12 season, starting 28 games and making a further 11 apps from the bench, netting four times as the Canaries finished fourth in Welsh Alliance Division One.
Next stop for Jason was a stint as player-manager at Pwllheli (“it was a very up and down season, still enjoyable”) before returning to Llanberis, where he spent another couple of years.
He recalled: “In one of my last ever games a few seasons ago, I played against Pwllheli and my friend John Jones.
“We were 1-0 up and I scored the goal; after about 60 minutes John hacked me and I was on the floor in a bit of pain. John looked over to our manager (Terry Saynor) and said, ‘take him off Terr, the old man’s finished’.
“We all laughed, I got back on my feet, scored another two. I looked over towards Terry and said ‘now you can take me off Terr, mission accomplished’.
“John doesn’t hear the end of this to this day – my first ever hat-trick in senior football and it was against the great John Jones of all people.”
Jason was asked what he felt was his best achievement in football.
“I would have to say the best (maybe not the biggest) accomplishment was winning the league player of the year as there were so many quality players in the Welsh Alliance at the time, You had the likes Dyl Midge (Owen), Sam Jones, David Noel, Paul Lewis, Kevin Roberts, and of course John just to name a few.”
And Jason had one more funny story up his sleeve….
“I was on the bench for Nefyn in a very tough, close match (can’t remember against who) and the score was 4-4 with two minutes to go.
“So on I came, first touch, from the halfway line, lobbed the keeper – 5-4 Nefyn. Second touch, halfway line, lobbed the other keeper (our own) 5-5. Headlines in the paper on Thursday – Jason turns from hero to villain!“
And the final few words form the legend himself….
“I retired two seasons ago as I have two beautiful little daughters, Greta (3) and Ena (1), so now I love spending time with them on the weekends. I really miss the football though as it’s played a massive part in my life and it’s still in my blood.”