Thomas George Jones
Millennium Giant - 1940-49
The words Thomas George Jones mean little to most Evertonians.
But mention the name T.G. Jones, as the man was more commonly known, and supporters of a certain vintage instantly conjure up images of one of the coolest, classiest and most unruffled of central defenders ever to pull on the Royal Blue jersey.
Regarded as one of the footballing scientists of his day, Everton decided to invest £3,000 in his talents after just six League matches for Wrexham. One of his team-mates, Gordon Watson, was in no doubt it was one of the shrewdest pieces of transfer business the club ever conducted.
"T. G. Jones was the best signing that Everton ever made," he declared. "When the opposition got a corner kick, he used to head the ball back to the goalkeeper, Ted Sagar.
"Nine times out of 10 Ted Sagar would play holy hell with you if you passed the ball back to him. He used to say 'I've got enough to do watching these fellows, as well as passing back from our own players.' But never with T.G."
He won a League Championship medal in only his second full season with the Blues, but a truly outstanding Everton team was prevented from adding to that honour by the Second World War.
"We won the League by Easter," recalled T.G. "We were a great side. They called us 'The School of Science.' Believe me when I tell you there were games I went on the field and didn't break sweat. It was that good."
|Stats and Honours|
|Everton appearances: 178 |
|Everton Goals: 5 |
|Everton Honours: Football League Championship winner 1938/39 |
|War-time internationals: 11 |
|Full international Wales caps: 17 |
The War wiped out five full seasons from his first class record, but when hostilities ceased in 1946, the break had done little to tarnish Jones' style.
Indeed, in 1947 Italian giants Roma made prolonged attempts to lure him to the eternal city in the days when transfers between European clubs were rare. Everton reluctantly accepted a bid of £15,000, and were as relieved as Roma were disappointed when the deal fell through because of foreign exchange issues.
Jones continued to exhibit his individual brand of calm assurance at the heart of Everton's defence, and he was appointed club captain in 1949 in succession to Peter Farrell.
Both opponents and supporters alike were convinced the honour was long overdue.
Jim King, Secretary of the Everton Supporters (Goodison) Club and a member of the Millennium Giants panel, said: "He was known as the "Prince of Centre- halves.'
"He was absolutely brilliant, cool under pressure, good in the air and brilliant on the ground. What always stands out in my opinion of T.G., if he took a free-kick, say from the edge of his own box, he'd just stroll up, no effort at all, perfectly positioned, correct-kicking and all that, and the ball would zoom into the other penalty area. The man was absolute perfection."
Former Liverpool star of the same era, Cyril Done, added: "T. G. was a gentleman off the field, and a gentleman on the field.
"I think he was the only player I ever knew who could dribble a ball on his own six-yard line and come out with it still between his feet. "He was a brilliant footballer. I jumped up to head a ball with him once, and he came down, fell awkwardly and hurt his ankle very badly. I'm not sure if he broke it.
"A lot of people seemed to think that I had injured him. I was very upset at the very idea that I could be considered as injuring the great T. G. Jones." After a 14-year Everton career packed full of memories, T. G. hung up his boots.
One of his most precious memories, however, was an unusual one.
"There are not many people about now who can say they played alongside Dixie Dean," he said from his newsagents office in North Wales. T. G. Jones now ranks alongside his hero as one of Everton's Millennium Giants.