An exclusive interview with Valiant legend Andy Jones. He talks about playing for Wales, leaving the Vale and of course that famous haircut.
I saw an old Evening Sentinel article that mentioned you used to play drums in a band with Julian Lennon. How’s the drumming going?
Unfortunately I no longer play the drums. I had a kit in the garage for a while but due to lack of use (although my daughters often made a racket on them) I sold them. I sometimes wish I’d kept them to vent some of the daily frustrations out on.
Tell us about when you were approached by Vale. Were any other clubs interested in you and why did you chose Vale?
At the time there were a number of other clubs, most notably Arsenal looking at me. I was aware that Port Vale were very keen and after one of our games I met John Rudge in the boardroom and it took him five minutes to convince me to sign.
There was one slight hiccup. Arsenal made contact with me and asked me to go down for a two week trial. John got wind of this and hot footed to my house in North Wales accompanied by Alan Oakes and contract. We chatted for quite some time and I signed. The rest is history.
You’re still mentioned frequently when Vale fans draw up their favourite Vale line-ups. Is it nice to be remembered by the fans over ten years after you last played for Vale?
I’m quite surprised how much is still written. It really is a nice feeling to see how much I was appreciated and makes me feel very proud of my involvement.
Do you still keep an eye out for how the Vale are getting on?
Yes, I always look for the result and hope they’ve won.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your former Vale teammates?
I’ve had contact with a few, but it’s very difficult keeping track of what everybody’s doing. I’ve played golf with Richard O’Kelly a few times, but that got boring, beating him all the time.
Richard if you see this don’t deny it…
I guess it would be good to have a get together some time. Trouble is somebody needs to organise it. Any volunteers?
I was also one of the many Vale fans who travelled to Wrexham for your International debut. What was it like scoring on your International debut and did scoring it in front of so many travelling Vale fans make a difference?
That night is still very fresh in the memory for many reasons.
I was actually told by Wrexham as a schoolboy that I was not good enough to play professionally, so there was something to prove there.
When we came out for the warm-up Mark Hughes pointed out the Vale banners. I just couldn’t believe you had all come, it was a great feeling knowing Vale supporters were there just for me.
Scoring really put the icing on the cake, particularly that late in the game. It’s a moment I’m very proud of.
You came onto the pitch to say your goodbyes after you moved to Charlton. Was that an emotional time, were you moved by the reaction of the fans to you and… where on earth did you get that silver/gray jacket from?
Nobody likes to see a grown man cry but I must admit after my walk round the pitch a certain amount of tears were shed. The jacket I don’t remember that well and no I haven’t still got it.
You came back to Vale on loan in 1989 and scored versus Aldershot. Were you pleased to be back and playing your part in a Vale promotion season?
At the time I was having a torrid time with injuries and felt pretty low so it was good to come back to somewhere I felt needed. I think the physio at the time was Martin who got me back to something like full fitness which was a real big help as the physio at Charlton was cr*p.
Do you think the Andy Jones “80’s spikey haircut” will ever make a comeback on the terraces?
I hope so, I’ve got the patent on that one
You’ve visited the site. What your thoughts on it and was the Andy Jones tribute article accurate?
I think the site is brilliant. Obviously a lot of time and effort has gone into it, keep it up. It’s another great way of keeping old soccer hero’s memories alive!!!
The tribute is great. My girls have spent quite some time reading it and are now taking the mickey out of me.
What are you doing now after finishing your football career?
I now work for BT as a Network specialist for their major customers like Body Shop in the South.
How important was that great relationship you had with the Vale fans? Did it spur you on during matches?
It was vital, especially early on in my Vale career. To be encouraged as I was really did help.
You quite often get the fans getting on a players back after they’ve made a few mistakes, but that never seemed to happen.
I even remember one supporter telling me how unlucky I was when I missed a penalty at Darlington. If that supporter is reading this it was very kind of you but I know that was one of the worst penalties I ever took. It went so high and wide it’s probably still in orbit to this day.
Any message for the the Vale fans on the Internet?
Yes: A big, big thank you for those great years and all your support and if anybody organises any golf days I’d love to play.”
Rob Fielding would like to thank Andy Jones for taking the time to answer these questions. He would also like to thank Daniel Long for his help and assistance.