A match for Wales against England stands out for Cliff Jones among all his many other appearances for his country and Football League clubs, Swansea, Tottenham and Fulham.


‘For me, being a Welshman, putting on the Wales shirt was my biggest honour,’ Cliff Jones says. ‘It still stays with me.

‘My first game was against Austria in Vienna in 1954. I was 19. I struggled in that game a bit. We got beaten 2-0. So I didn’t get picked again for more than a year.’

He was brought back for the British Championship match against a powerful England side – Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Billy Wright – in Cardiff. ‘It was 1955 and I was 20 years of age,’ he says, ‘and the funny thing was I’d forgotten my boots.’

In a panic he rang his wife, Joan – they were still newly-weds – to ask her to deliver the boots to him at Ninian Park as quickly as possible. ‘It’s just before the game,’ Jones says, ‘and I’m sort of darting about waiting for my wife and the manager’s looking at me.’

‘What’s up, Cliff? Don’t worry about tickets,’ the manager said. It was now about an hour before kick-off. ‘Just give the tickets to the bloke on the door and he’ll let your wife and family have the tickets.’

‘It’s not the tickets,’ Jones said.

‘Well what is it?’

‘I’ve forgotten my boots.’

‘What, you forgot your fuckin’ boots. We’re playing against England, Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, and you forgot your fuckin’ boots.’

‘He went off on one, didn’t he,’ Jones says.

The upshot was that the boots arrived in time and Wales won 2-1, their first victory over England in 17 years, with Jones scoring the winning goal.

He details how he did it as exactly as if telling me what he had just had for breakfast. ‘I cut in from the left and Roy Paul, a brilliant wing half, slanted a ball over. I could see it coming and I came across Billy Wright, the England centre half, got up and went bang with my head.

‘It went straight in at the far post. Great goal. Billy Wright had no chance. I was carried off shoulder high at the end. Amazing. One of my great moments in football.’


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.