RELATIVES of tragic Busby Babe Mark Jones stand proudly by a plaque unveiled in his home village — 62 years on from the air disaster in which he died.
Mark was aged just 24 when he was among 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, killed as their aeroplane crashed during take off at Munich on February 6, 1958.
The Weekender has previously told how his daughter Lynn Hargreaves and son Gary Jones wished to see a permanent tribute to the central defender in his home village of Wombwell.
Now their hope has become a reality, thanks to the kindness of Gary’s friend, Jack Swift.
The plaque is outside the changing rooms at Wombwell Main Cricket Club, where Mark played football and cricket as a youngster.
Gary died last year aged 53 after suffering kidney disease and Jack pledged in his memory to honour his dad Mark.
Gary’s wife, Susan Jones, said: “Jack had said before Gary died that he was going to raise some money for a plaque but it was only when I went up to see it and asked him about it that he said he’d paid for it himself.
“It was really good of him.
“People in Wombwell know Mark’s name and what he did, especially the older ones.”
Gary was only two when Mark (pictured, above right), an England schoolboy international, was killed and never got to see him play.
But Susan added: “I know Gary was proud of him. From what I’ve heard, he really seems to be have been a gentle giant.
“I’m very proud to see the plaque and glad it’s come about — a lot of people are going to see it as it’s by the changing rooms where the players pass by.”
Jack, of Copeland Road, Wombwell, said: “In another 20 years, people may have forgotten about the Busby Babes but this plaque will be here for everyone to see.
“I knew Gary for more than 40 years and he often talked about his dad, he was really proud.”
Jack (69) refused to reveal what the red-and-white plaque had cost him, adding: “I don’t want any praise for it. It’s for my mate Gary — I made him a promise. I’m just sad he never got to see it.”
Mark’s daughter Lynn said she had asked Barnsley Council about installing a statue for him in the centre of Wombwell but had been told it would cost £150,000.
She said she was grateful to Jack for being the driving force behind the cricket club plaque, saying it was “about time” her dad was formally remembered.
“It’s lovely,” she added. “It’s a really nice gesture.”
Susan, of Hough Lane, Wombwell, said relatives of the 11 from Manchester United killed in the crash, including three club officials, were invited annually to Old Trafford around the time of the anniversary.
Survivors of the disaster include Sir Bobby Charlton, now a club director, who attended this year’s gathering at last Saturday’s game against Wolves, before which a service was held at the stadium’s Munich memorial.
“It was nice to see everyone,” said Susan. “Sir Alex Ferguson was there and Alex Stepney (United’s European Cup winning goalkeeper) gave a speech. “It was quite emotional.”