HOW times change.
Back in the Fifties, strapping centre-half Mark Jones had a penchant for pipe smoking as he carved out a career with Manchester United and potentially England. His team-mates even called him Dan Archer, after the character in hit radio programme The Archers.
But on the field, Jones was poised to become one of the biggest names of the era.
That was until 60 years ago today.
Jones, born in Low Valley in Wombwell in 1933, was one of the eight Busby Babes killed in the Munich Air Disaster when the 'plane carrying players and backroom staff from Old Trafford plus a number of journalists and supporters, crashed in a blizzard on its third attempt to take off from Munich airport.
United were returning from Belgrade where they had just beaten Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup and had stopped off at Munich for re-fuelling. Twenty-three of the 44 passengers on board the aircraft lost their lives.
Jones was only 24 when he was killed. He was the club’s first-choice centre half for much of the 1950s and collected two League Championship winner’s medals.
He had signed for the club as an apprentice on leaving school in 1948 and made his first two appearances in the 1952-53 season — combining his footballing exploits with working as a bricklayer — and by the time of United’s title glory in 1955-56 he was a regular first team player.
Jones missed the 1957 FA Cup Final defeat against Aston Villa because of an eye injury, and looked set for an international call-up which would surely have come his way had he not perished at Munich.
He played a total of 120 first team games for United and scored once.
Jones, buried in Wombwell Cemetery, was survived by his wife, June, and their two-year-old son, Gary.
And in a final sad twist, he never saw his second child — his daughter, Lynne, was born four months after the disaster.
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